Author Topic: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game  (Read 7382 times)

Offline Wordsmith

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The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« on: November 30, 2012, 02:53:12 PM »
So I'm fairly new to AI War, but I am greatly enjoying what I've experienced so far - to the point of picking up all the expansion packs, even. And this is the story of my first solo game.

It will likely end in catastrophic failure, because I have no idea what I'm actually doing, but hey, that's half the fun.

This thread will be updated whenever I get a chance to play, just so you can watch a newbie bumbling through his first attempt at saving humanity. So let's see where things stand at the moment, shall we?



First off, I don't actually remember what I have enabled on this game. I know that I specifically went without any AI gambits, because I didn't want to have to deal with the craziness that is Astro Trains during my first-ever run-through, and I don't have a Champion. I also think Golems are disabled, but I'm not sure about that.

What I do remember is this: I'm playing against a 5/5 team, just to get my feet wet, and both AIs are Random Easier. I don't think I've got enough information yet to figure out exactly which they are.

I also started on the Laser Gatling planet, because having soft, expendable bodies to soak up bullets is never a bad thing. I am a big believer in the value of meatshields.

Anyway. I've logged forty-five minutes in this session so far, and things currently stand as follows:

 - AI Progress: 74
 - Planets Held: 4
 - Ship Types Captured: I was fortunate enough that a planet just two hops from my home planet had an Advanced Research Station for me to capture. As such, I have access to Zenith Electric Bombers, Mark II, as well as the Laser Gatlings I got from my home planet.
 - Tech Unlocked: All Mark II fleet ships, including Laser Gatling and Scouts. Heavy Bomber Starship Mark II. Metal Harvester Mark II. Advanced Warp Sensors.
 - Ships In Service: Currently, almost all fleet ships are at cap. My home planet Space Dock is currently pumping out Zenith Electric Bombers as fast as possible.
 - Planets: Terra is my home planet, and is currently quite well-fortified, with several Tractor Beam turrets on each outgoing wormhole, a forcefield on the Command Center, multiple damage-dealing turrets by each Wormhole, and some Sniper Turrets around the edges for good measure. My other three planets - Hyperion, Rowsdower, and Kevin - are much less securely held, and building them up is currently my priority. As it is, Rowsdower is currently looking like prime whipping boy material, as it borders three enemy planets. Even if it doesn't end up as a whipping boy, getting it heavily defended is vital, as it's right next to Terra.
 - Targets: Kevin currently borders a Mark II AI planet, but losing Kevin is unlikely and wouldn't be a death blow in any case; I only really took it because it had the ARS on it, and now I'm just holding it as a sort of buffer for the rest. Rowsdower borders three AI planets, two of which are Mark III and one of which is unscouted (though hopefully not for much longer). My prime target is the single planet bordering Hyperion, which I have designated "Cabot". Cabot is a Mark III planet, and is extremely heavily defended (at least compared to the rest), with its main threat being its Ion Cannon, as well as several heavily-force-fielded missile guard posts. This will be my first attempt to deal with one of them. It is, however, imperative that I take it, as not only is it quite close to Terra but it possesses a huge wealth in both Metal and Crystal, as well as being bordered by only one AI planet. It's an easily-defendable source of resources that I desperately need. Currently, my plan of attack is to make use of that Bomber Starship Mark II I just unlocked, wipe out the Ion Cannon, and then follow up with my fleet ships, using the new Zenith Bombers to crush the force fields.
 - Current Priority: Securing currently-held planets, building up military in preparation for an assault on Cabot. Scouting.



I'm probably taking this slower than I need to (with the number of fleet ships I have, I could probably steamroller Cabot without any trouble, Ion Cannon be damned), but I'd prefer for everything to not just collapse around my ears because of a newbie mistake.
"Sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness."
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2012, 03:12:03 PM »
Welcome to the forums and to the game :)

Quote
It will likely end in catastrophic failure, because I have no idea what I'm actually doing, but hey, that's half the fun.
I suspect you'll fit right in ;)
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Offline Wordsmith

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2012, 03:33:15 PM »
Heh. Thanks for the welcome.

And yeah. I played Dwarf Fortress and enjoyed it greatly. I'm starting to suspect that I have a masochistic streak of some sort.  ;D



Cabot starts dispatching waves of Zenith Viral Shredders and Bombers to attack Hyperion. Fortunately, Hyperion is, by now, rather heavily fortified, and between the Tractor Beam and Flak turrets, along with the Laser Gatlings and Fighters dispatched from the main fleet, both waves are made short work of.

Meanwhile, construction and knowledge-harvesting proceeds unabated across all human systems. Turrets and forcefields go up on all planets to ward off attackers, and production on both a Mark II Bomber Starship and Mark I Plasma Siege Starship begins on Terra, to provide some heavy punch to my fleet. Even with the Zenith Electric Bombers, a little extra firepower can't hurt. At least one of these AIs is rather Force Field happy. These things are everywhere.

Hm... after browsing the wiki, it seems likely that I'm up against a Turtle on one side and possibly a Zenith Descendant. Not sure on that one, though. I can't remember if I've seen any other Zenith ships deployed. It's possible I've just run up against a different AI entirely which just happens to have Viral Shredders due to planet unlocks.

Mark II Scout Drones manage to make it past the Tachyon Guard Posts on Cabot and get me a report on Melusmoat, the only AI planet directly bordering it. Holy shit is this place armed. Orbital Mass Driver, Zenith Regeneration Chamber, two Command Shield Guard Posts, two Special Forces Guard posts, two Missile Guard Posts, a Fortress, and forcefields everywhere. Yeeaaaaaah I think I'll just leave that alone, since there's nothing there worth -

- ah, crap, it's got a Core Force Field Generator. I'm gonna have to take it.

That's gonna be fun. But one step at a time, I guess. I keep fortifying the planets I already have and exploit my massive resource cache to get a second Dock up and running on Hyperion, so I can still pump out Laser Gatlings and other (comparatively) quick-building ships while Terra continues to manufacture Zenith Bombers for heavy firepower. Once my Starships are up and running, I'll be ready to try an assault on Cabot.

But that's going to have to wait for my next post, unfortunately, as real life is interfering. Blah. I was getting into that.
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2012, 03:42:12 PM »
Dwarf Fortress
Yep, right in.  A bunch of us around here are DF fans and "losing is fun" is almost as true of AIW in terms of attitude as it is of DF.

Quote
Hm... after browsing the wiki, it seems likely that I'm up against a Turtle on one side and possibly a Zenith Descendant.
If you got a ZD this could get ugly particularly if you have the Ancient Shadows expansion enabled.  But it's not sounding like a ZD.  The other could be a Shield Ninny: turtle-like with a particular penchant for forcefields.

Quote
- ah, crap, it's got a Core Force Field Generator. I'm gonna have to take it.
Core FF Gen, or Core Shield Gen?  I hadn't realized til just now how easily those two could be confused.  Anyway, a Core FF is annoying if you want to kill anything under it but isn't a critical unit on the grand scale.  A CSG, on the other hand, has to be killed before you can take on the AI homeworlds.
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Offline Kahuna

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2012, 03:54:04 PM »
Heyy welcome to the forums. Always good to see new people.

It will likely end in catastrophic failure, because I have no idea what I'm actually doing, but hey, that's half the fun.
For me the best way to learn was to just try stuff and get my ass whooped over and over again! LOL

EDIT:
NEW VERSIONS:
Kahuna's Guide To AI War - Find Your Inner Super Cat!
http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,13369.msg151816.html#msg151816

If you haven't already might wanna read these :)
Going for my first game of AI War: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11837.msg125730.html#msg125730
Some overall strategies and tech unlocks: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11937.msg128188.html#msg128188
Neutering: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,12037.msg129629.html#msg129629
Ship combos: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11996.msg129236.html#msg129236
Beachheading: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11391.msg129159.html#msg129159
Bindings and In-Game Controls: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,13292.0.html


- AI Progress: 74
Not bad. Just try to keep it under 200.

- Tech Unlocked: All Mark II fleet ships
End game when the waves get bigger you might wanna consider unlocking some turrets. Heavy Beam Cannons, Spider and Missile Turrets ftw.

multiple damage-dealing turrets by each Wormhole
Ah I've noticed a lot of players do this. In my opinion it's better to place the turrets in front of the Command Station (between the CS and the Wormholes).

If there's 2 Wormholes on a planet: A and B. Half of the turrets are next to Wormhole A and others next to the B Wormhole. When a wave comes from either of the Wormholes half of the defenses wont be able to shoot. They can't do anything.

If you place them like this:

When a wave comes all turrets will be able to shoot and no turret is wasted. All the firepower is in one place so you will be able to stop the waves with fewer casualties. End game when the waves get big rebuilding 80% of the turrets after every wave will kill even the strongest economy. It's usually this economic attrition that will kill you in high difficulty levels.

several Tractor Beam turrets on each outgoing wormhole
This is good. It will prevent some of the AI ships from getting away. They will also stop wandering threat ships etc.

- Targets
Good. It seems like you know what you're doing and have goals. It's good to have a (flexible) plan before you start a game.

I only really took it because it had the ARS on it, and now I'm just holding it as a sort of buffer for the rest.
That kind of expendable buffer/beachhead planets are useful some times. Just build some Area Minefields, Gravitational, Tractor and Spider Turrets to slow down the AI. It will be easier to stop the wave after it has been weakened in the beachhead planet. Don't be afraid to lose (beachhead or distant not so important) planets. Also even if you capture an ARS it doesn't mean you have to hold the planet. If the ARS is like 8 hops away from your homeworld you wont be able to hold that planet unless you're using a Warp Jammer CS. You can just capture the planet and then abandon it.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 09:09:47 AM by Kahuna »
set /A diff=10
if %diff%==max (
   set /A me=:)
) else (
   set /A me=SadPanda
)
echo Check out my AI War strategy guide and find your inner Super Cat!
echo 2592 hours of AI War and counting!
echo Kahuna matata!

Offline Wordsmith

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2012, 04:48:51 PM »
If you got a ZD this could get ugly particularly if you have the Ancient Shadows expansion enabled.  But it's not sounding like a ZD.  The other could be a Shield Ninny: turtle-like with a particular penchant for forcefields.

That's very probably it, then. I didn't see any reference to a "Shield Ninny" type on the wiki, or I would have picked up on it.

Core FF Gen, or Core Shield Gen?  I hadn't realized til just now how easily those two could be confused.  Anyway, a Core FF is annoying if you want to kill anything under it but isn't a critical unit on the grand scale.  A CSG, on the other hand, has to be killed before you can take on the AI homeworlds.

I'm pretty sure it's a Shield Generator, as I remember it having an 'E' somewhere in its name. That indicates to me that it's one of the five networks. But I don't have the game running at the moment, so I'm not entirely sure. If it's not a CSG, I'll probably just end up neutering the place instead of taking it. Not much in the way of resources to be had, and I really just want Cabot for the resources, not as a path to launch attacks from.

(Also, yes, I am naming these planets, save Hyperion and Terra, for MST3K movie characters)

If you haven't already might wanna read these :)
Going for my first game of AI War: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11837.msg125730.html#msg125730
Some overall strategies and tech unlocks: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11937.msg128188.html#msg128188
Neutering: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,12037.msg129629.html#msg129629
Ship combos: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11996.msg129236.html#msg129236
Beachheading: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11391.msg129159.html#msg129159

I'm pretty sure I've read all of those. I've lurked around the forums and read a lot of the wiki articles, even though this is my first time sitting down and trying to play through a full game. So I know most of the theory. It's just putting it into practice now. But thanks for the links!

Not bad. Just try to keep it under 200.

Yeah, I figure I'm getting near to the end of the early game, and the AI progress shouldn't be much over 100 (if it even breaks that at all) by the time I'm done. I really just need to take Cabot, and possibly one other resource-heavy planet (one of the ones bordering Rowsdower is 4/3 for Metal and Crystal, IIRC), and I should have enough resources incoming to fund the rest of the war.

After that, I pretty much plan to just neuter and/or gate raid as necessary until I can clear a path to the homeworlds. I'm not a particularly completionist player. I'd rather have a small amount of territory that I can reliably defend than try to rush things. As it is, I'm only planning to take other planets if I absolutely have to control a point for strategic weapons (or temporarily capture it for its ARS, of course).

End game when the waves get bigger you might wanna consider unlocking some turrets. Heavy Beam Cannons, Spider and Missile Turrets ftw.

Oh yeah. When I crank up the difficulty (I plan to move to 7/7 after this game is over, win or lose, as this is basically just me learning the mechanics), I'm definitely going to invest more in turrets. But as of now, all I'm dealing with is waves of 40-70 Viral Shredders or Bombers, none of them higher than Mark II. Flak turrets absolutely murder Shredders, and the Sniper turrets I've got parked by my CCs make sure that stragglers never make it far enough to be an actual threat.

Ah I've noticed a lot of players do this. In my opinion it's better to place the turrets in front of the Command Station (between the CS and the Wormholes).

I actually do have this, though I neglected to mention it. I only have three planets that need defending at the moment (Terra has quite a few turrets as well, but that's beside the point): Rowsdower, which borders several AI worlds, Kevin, which is low-priority and borders only one, and Hyperion, which borders Cabot and is the target of all the incoming waves thus far.

Kevin is only lightly defended, as the AI planet it borders is only Mark II and has only a handful of ships in any case. There's not going to be any real threat from there, I think, and even if there is, Kevin isn't a critical position to hold. Rowsdower and Hyperion, on the other hand, have around... thirty turrets each, I think. At least five Tractors per wormhole (including the ones leading to Kevin, in case it falls), five Basics paired with the Tractors, five Sniper turrets back by the CC, and various other turrets spaced as appropriate (Flak turrets on Hyperion's wormholes, for example, with a few Missile turrets placed midway between the wormholes and the CC on both planets).

For now, though, most of my turrets are parked pretty close to the wormholes, even though I do have light backfield defenses. This is because this AI has sent multiple waves of Viral Shredders at me, and Flak turrets - an extremely efficient way of dealing with them, at least so far - are very close-range, so I have a large concentration of them by Hyperion's wormhole.

That kind of expendable buffer/beachhead planets are useful some times. Just build some Area Minefields, Gravitational, Tractor and Spider Turrets to slow down the AI. It will be easier to stop the wave after it has been weakened in the beachhead planet.

Oh, I will be eventually. For the moment, though, I have bigger concerns - namely, Cabot. As mentioned, all waves thus far have come from there. For now, Kevin is going to have to deal with having only light defenses. I have better places to put them.

Also even if you capture an ARS it doesn't mean you have to hold the planet. If the ARS is like 8 hops away from your homeworld you wont be able to hold that planet unless you're using a Warp Jammer CS. You can just capture the planet and then abandon it.

I know. But Kevin is very close - only two hops - from my homeworld, and borders both Hyperion and Rowsdower. I'm keeping it because there's no real point in sacrificing it now; the planet it borders is low-level, has only a handful of ships on it, and doesn't pose much of a threat, and at least as long as I hold Kevin I can get the resources from it.

Thanks for all the advice!

EDIT: Oh. Also. Something I learned this game.

YOU WILL USE LASER GATLINGS. YOU WILL LOVE LASER GATLINGS.

They're basically this game's equivalent of Imperial Guard Conscripts from Warhammer 40,000. They have crappy stats, but they cost basically nothing, and you can manufacture them so fast that losing them doesn't really hurt you. Thus, the enemy is presented with a Catch-22 problem: if they target the Laser Gatlings, they're wasting time killing little things that will probably be replaced before the battle's over, but if they target the stuff that actually matters, the Laser Gatlings are going to crush them under sheer weight of numbers.

I love these guys.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 04:53:23 PM by Wordsmith »
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2012, 05:08:30 PM »
EDIT: Oh. Also. Something I learned this game.

YOU WILL USE LASER GATLINGS. YOU WILL LOVE LASER GATLINGS.

They're basically this game's equivalent of Imperial Guard Conscripts from Warhammer 40,000.
I think you'll like the neinzul youngling types :)

But yea, impy-goo.
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Offline TechSY730

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2012, 05:30:06 PM »
EDIT: Oh. Also. Something I learned this game.

YOU WILL USE LASER GATLINGS. YOU WILL LOVE LASER GATLINGS.

They're basically this game's equivalent of Imperial Guard Conscripts from Warhammer 40,000.
I think you'll like the neinzul youngling types :)

But yea, impy-goo.

High cap ships generally get a bad-rep around here.
And I can sort of see that. Most of the time, their kill-to-death ratio is rather poor.

However, I think the bad reputation is mostly undeserved. Most of the high cap ships (there are a few that don't fit this, but there are a few, like infiltrators) are cheap. This, combined with their number, gives them great utility that doesn't directly show up in DPS and kills and other directly measurable things but still can have great impact on military. (Like being "stall material" for low ROF ships)

One fun tactic is to loop build a space dock with a cheap, high cap ship (or neinzul ship) and have that space dock FRD move or attack-move (which sets a rally point to do that move) to another planet.
Great for cheaply wearing down threat balls or guards on the other side of a wormhole. (Yes, it does it slowly, but it is usually so cheap, you can continue your main operations with that in the background) Easy, low micro harassment. ;)


Plus, laser gattlings do make a nifty anti-bomber unit.


Could many of the high cap ships use a bit of a buff? Yes. But they are not as bad players like to think they are.

Offline LaughingThesaurus

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2012, 07:15:40 PM »
Low cap cheap ships are also great for, say, getting spec forces in a permanent loop. We had a space dock on an adjacent planet to an ARS we were hacking. LordSloth just rallied his vorticular cutlasses to another planet with something valuable and spec forces camped there and just killed them one after another.

Offline Oralordos

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2012, 09:21:26 PM »
So you like low cap ships too? I like either Neinzul low cap ships with Neinzul enclaves or the new Zenith Medic with starships. Perhaps we should play a game together sometime.

Offline Hearteater

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2012, 10:15:30 PM »
The biggest problem that isn't really accounted for in high cap ships is in a given fight, they die faster than low cap ships, which means their DPS drops quicker.  So when comparing a low cap ship to a high cap ship, the high cap ship needs better effective DPS.  This often comes somewhat in the form of lower individual damage values which results in less overkill.  Let's compare Space Planes and Zenith Reprocessors.  At high caps, they are 344 vs 16 respectively.  Let's look at the damage they do with no bonus, and against optimal targets: Heavy armor.

Space Planes
DPS: 273,671.1 (no bonus), 875,747.5 (vs Heavy x3.2)

Zenith Reprocessors
DPS: 179,200.0 (no bonus), 1,433,600 (vs Heavy x8)

So Planes are +52.7% DPS with no bonus, but Reprocessors are +63.7% DPS against bonus targets.  Note also that Planes cost more than twice the Energy per cap, take twice as long to build a cap, and cost 61% more resources per cap.

This comparison is somewhat flawed because Space Planes have Radar Dampening, but I wanted to compare a high and low cap ship against the same armor type, and both of these have cloaking so that's a wash.  But if it weren't for Radar Dampening, the Planes would suffer much faster lose of DPS due to attrition than the Reprocessors (they have 15.7% the health individually, and 33.8% the cap health).

Hmm, Micro Fighters are probably a better example as they are straight inferior to Reprocessors.  Amazingly, high cap ships have really hefty cap build times.  It takes more than x4.24 as long to rebuild Micro Fighters as Reprocessors.  Anti-Armors take x5.76 as long!

I haven't really crunched all the numbers, but I'm pretty certain Micro Fighters and Ether Jets need a DPS boost.  Several others too, but I really need to examine them better.

Offline Wordsmith

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2012, 07:11:50 PM »
The biggest problem that isn't really accounted for in high cap ships is in a given fight, they die faster than low cap ships, which means their DPS drops quicker.  So when comparing a low cap ship to a high cap ship, the high cap ship needs better effective DPS.  This often comes somewhat in the form of lower individual damage values which results in less overkill.  Let's compare Space Planes and Zenith Reprocessors.  At high caps, they are 344 vs 16 respectively.  Let's look at the damage they do with no bonus, and against optimal targets: Heavy armor.

Space Planes
DPS: 273,671.1 (no bonus), 875,747.5 (vs Heavy x3.2)

Zenith Reprocessors
DPS: 179,200.0 (no bonus), 1,433,600 (vs Heavy x8)

So Planes are +52.7% DPS with no bonus, but Reprocessors are +63.7% DPS against bonus targets.  Note also that Planes cost more than twice the Energy per cap, take twice as long to build a cap, and cost 61% more resources per cap.

This comparison is somewhat flawed because Space Planes have Radar Dampening, but I wanted to compare a high and low cap ship against the same armor type, and both of these have cloaking so that's a wash.  But if it weren't for Radar Dampening, the Planes would suffer much faster lose of DPS due to attrition than the Reprocessors (they have 15.7% the health individually, and 33.8% the cap health).

Hmm, Micro Fighters are probably a better example as they are straight inferior to Reprocessors.  Amazingly, high cap ships have really hefty cap build times.  It takes more than x4.24 as long to rebuild Micro Fighters as Reprocessors.  Anti-Armors take x5.76 as long!

I haven't really crunched all the numbers, but I'm pretty certain Micro Fighters and Ether Jets need a DPS boost.  Several others too, but I really need to examine them better.

No offense, but I think you're missing the point here.

I may be a newbie when it comes to AI War, but I'm not new when it comes to strategy games as a whole, and this analysis of high-cap versus low-cap units is very, very shallow, and doesn't actually cover the reasons why someone would want to use one over the other.

No one who supports the use of high-cap ships (or, to widen the category slightly, cheap, spammable units in any game) is going to argue that they're going to be more powerful than a group of high-level, expensive units. The only case in which low-level units are going to be able to keep up with high-level ones in terms of DPS is if they can be well and truly spammed, to the point where they outnumber the enemy five to one or so (see: Zerg rush).

Let's go back to my original analogy: that high-cap units are analogous to the Imperial Guard Conscripts in Warhammer 40,000. For those who don't play the game, the Imperial Guard is the "standard human" army in 40k. It has two main things that it can use to its advantage: cheap, spammable infantry, individually weak but which can be brought to bear in crushing numbers, and awesome, awesome tanks.

So Guard armies usually fall into one of two categories: infantry armies, which might have some light mechanized support but which rely on numbers to win, or tank armies, which have few infantry (and thus have trouble holding objectives) but can bury their opponents under massive waves of firepower.

Infantry armies in the Imperial Guard actually have three types of basic infantry to choose from: Guardsmen, Veterans, and Conscripts. Standard Guardsmen are as flimsy as wet paper, miss half the time, and have a 50% chance, if they come under stress, to break and run. Veterans are more powerful in all respects, but are more expensive.

And then you have Conscripts. Conscripts are possibly the only unit in 40k easier to kill in melee than standard Guardsmen (except maybe Tau Fire Warriors, but that's beside the point). Come to that, they're possibly the easiest-to-kill unit in the game period. Beyond that, they're practically guaranteed to break and run if they come under fire, miss a full two-thirds of all shots they take, and... well, you get the point. Basically they suck at everything, forever, compared to everything else in the game.

And yet there are still top-level Guard players who will swear by the Conscripts and run huge blobs of them in all their Guard foot armies. Why? Because the amount of damage-dealing potential they have isn't the thing that makes Conscripts worth taking.

Even standard Guardsmen are highly spammable, costing only 5 points apiece (and games of 40k usually consist of 1500 or more points per army). Conscripts cost even less, and come in squads of twenty rather than ten. They can't shoot worth a damn, they won't hold their ground against even the lightest attacks, and they fold like wet paper if anybody even looks at them wrong. But there are a hell of a lot of them, and they can still stand on the objective point and say "YAY, WE'RE CONTRIBUTING" while your more powerful units get the real work done. Your opponent still has to go through them if he has to win.

Which wouldn't really be a problem, because, y'know, Conscripts aren't exactly durable. Except... well, every shot directed at a blob of Conscripts is a shot that's not hitting something that can actually hurt you. And if you ignore the Conscripts entirely, they actually can do some damage, or get dug into a fortified position in a critical area. Examine their stats and they suck. Use them on the tabletop, and there's no end to the utility they offer, whether it's cheap bodies to sit on a backfield objective just so you can say you have it under your control at game end or acting as a meatshield for your more important units.

Beyond that, a special Guard unit called Commander Chenkov can be used to make Conscripts respawn, so even if your opponent guns them down at one point, he's never going to be able to keep them off the table entirely. They'll always be there, gumming up the works with cheap, expendable bodies.

That's what high-cap, low-cost, fast-building ships are good for. They cost you next to nothing, both in time and resources, and they still manage to make your opponent's life hell. And if they die? They'll be back just a few seconds later.

You don't use them for DPS. You use them for their flexibility and expendability.
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Offline Winge

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2012, 07:55:12 PM »
You don't use them for DPS. You use them for their flexibility and expendability.

Sounds like you'll really love Neinzul + Enclave.  Once you have the energy to support a few Enclaces, you can really use them to stir up some trouble.

On a marginally related note, Space Planes are not the typical low-cap ship.  They have a Radar Dampening Range that is shorter than their attack range--to my knowledge, they are the only mobile ship that has that bonus.  Oh, and Cloaking, Mine Immunity, and Tractor Immunity.  With enough micro, they are downright overpowered against everything that doesn't have Radar Dampening Immunity.  I've even used them to kill a Superfortress on a Mark IV world without support--I lost about 20 Planes after I killed the Ion Cannons (note:  old Superfort, haven't played a full game in a bit, so I don't know what the new one is like).
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2012, 09:22:01 PM »
On the low-cap vs high-cap thing, yes there's a lot of utility in just having a good solid spammable type (fighters actually do this fairly well in a pinch) to soak up enemy fire.  But the difference from the 40k situations I think you're describing is that when a heavy enemy attack comes in in AIW your main challenge is generally not keeping your defense force alive (though that can be hard), it's killing the enemy invaders before they kill something important.  Conscript-like units have a hard time really contributing in a case like that (largely due to how armor works, which was part of the point of why armor was made that way, even though that's probably going to change).

Another mechanical difference is that it's a lot more common in AIW (iirc) to find heavy enemy units with a high rate of fire.  Sure, those individual shots are getting soaked up, but it gets a whole lot of shots "per turn" and can afford to eat a few caps of your minnows.  Also, in general when you're defending a serious attack you're substantially outnumbered.

All that said, I love the spammables too :)
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Offline Hearteater

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Re: The First Words - A Newbie's First Game
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2012, 09:31:59 PM »
That's what high-cap, low-cost, fast-building ships are good for. They cost you next to nothing, both in time and resources, and they still manage to make your opponent's life hell. And if they die? They'll be back just a few seconds later.

You don't use them for DPS. You use them for their flexibility and expendability.
So basically, you didn't read what I wrote?  Did you notice that high cap ships take LONGER to replace than low cap ships?  Your 40k analogy isn't particularly useful in the context of AI Wars, for a list of reasons based on 40k mechanics and victory conditions that I don't feel it is necessary to go in to.  But I've played 40k since Rogue Trader, which is more than 20 years ago, so I'm pretty familiar with how it works.

But the biggest issue is younglings are so much stronger than any other high cap spam unit they just make non-younglings obsolete.  So high caps really do need to be competitive DPS-wise, unless they have a special role (which Space Planes actually do).  But in no way are Micro Fighters, for example, better than any of the youngling options.