Author Topic: Guide - Tactical Offense  (Read 3229 times)

Offline MondSemmel

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Guide - Tactical Offense
« on: September 03, 2014, 09:47:45 AM »
This is the companion guide to this one, and the same disclaimers hold true.

The guide is current as of v8.004, with all expansions but Destroyer of Worlds.

So! You've identified a strategically relevant system you want to capture or neuter. What do you do now?

Firstly, here are some ways to reach it:
  • Send a superweapon (Champion/Golem/whatever) directly to the target.
  • Sufficiently neuter all planets on the way to the target, then simply send the fleet there.
  • Load your fleet into transports, then send them directly to the target.
  • Destroy all Tachyon Sentinels on the way, then send the cloaked Assault Transports or other cloaked ships directly to the targets.

Now that you've reached it, how can you capture or neuter an arbitrary system? By having a formidable offense in general, and by countering specific AI defenses.

General options for offense:
  • Champion (especially Mk III-V): can crush weak Mk I-II systems by itself (except for force fields)
  • Raid Starships: ultra-fast, ignores force fields, fragile
  • Superweapons: Golems, Martyrs, etc.
  • Hit-and-run: Use normal or Assault Transports or SC Jumpships to ferry (parts of) your fleet close to strategic targets (like Ion Cannons)
  • Offensive beachhead (requires supply): Use high range turrets (Sniper, Spider, Missile) and unlocked turrets whose radar dampening range is below their attack range. These can destroy pretty much all stationary AI defenses.
  • Destroy the AI Command Station (e.g. via force field immune ships). This frees all ships on the planet. Wait until they leave the system, then build your own command station, and finally clear up the remaining AI structures via fleet & turrets. OR first setup a beachhead, THEN destroy the AI Command Station.
  • Sabotage Hack: Takes out one arbitrary annoying AI structure for a low HaP cost. Main benefit: Sabotaging a structure which would normally increase AIP, doesn't. These structures include: Black Hole Machines, Inter-Planetary Munitions Boosters, Raid Engines, Alarm Posts, Radar Jammers, Gravity Drills, Troop Accelerators.
  • Brute force: Having a nigh-unstoppable fleet ball. (To minimize losses, only attack guard posts with ships to which they have no damage bonuses.)

How to set up a beachhead on an AI planet with supply:
  • Send a Transport full of Mobile Builders and Engineers into the system (to survive mines).
  • Build a Force Field, and put Engineers, Mobile Builders, lots of Remains Rebuilders, Flak & Lightning Turrets and a Counter-Sniper Turret inside. Place other turrets around it. On a planet to be neutered, the AI Command Station (and therefore the AI reinforcements) should be in turret range. On a planet designated for capture, it's ideal to build the beachhead at the spot where normal defenses should be.
  • Place Mines if there are good locations for them.
  • Optional: Put a Space Dock or Missile Silo or Intra-Galactic Warp Gates there, too.

Counters to specific AI defenses:
Force Fields:
  • Ships with ultra-high DPS and/or bonus damage to Force Fields: Artillery Golem, Implosion Artillery, SC Ram, Bombers, certain starships ...
  • Ships which can damage targets inside Force Fields: Raid Starships, SC Penetrators, melee ships (e.g. Vampire Claws), Plasma Siege Starship; note that many AI defenses are immune to some of these
  • Remove supply by destroying the AI Command Station on this and all adjacent systems, or via a Nuke
  • EMP Warhead I-III: Paralyses friendly & hostile fleet ships below Mk V on the planet, uncloaks everything and disables force fields for 30-120s.

Ion Cannons: each insta-kills one ship per second. Ships of a higher Mark but without insta-kill immunity still take heavy engine damage.
  • Champion
  • ships immune to being insta-killed, incl. all starships
  • cloaked ships
  • Raid Starships
  • SC Penetrator

  • Only ships with Polycrystal hulls can survive their damage: Bombers, Bomber Starships
  • Ships with ultra-high DPS: Artillery Golem, SC Ram (require something to soak damage), SC Implosion Artillery (even Mk I outranges AI Forts), Armored Warhead, ...
  • Remove supply by destroying the Command Station on this and all adjacent systems, or via a Nuke
  • Beachhead: use turrets with radar dampening range < attack range.

Orbital Mass Driver: these hard-counter golems and starships, and even ignore force fields.
  • Rush with fleet ships.
  • Attack with cloaked ships (e.g. SC Penetrator)
  • Do not bring Champion, starships or Artillery Golem until these are down.

Dire Guardian Lair:
  • don't alert this or neighboring systems to keep it from spawning Dire Guardians.
  • destroy w/ Artillery Golem

Mines: Tachyon coverage (e.g. via Scout Starships) to see these, Cleanup Drones to clean them up.

  • Use a tiny fleet so you don't wake the Eye. Use no spawners (like Neinzul Enclave Starships).
  • Destroy all AI Guard Posts.
  • If possible, use only ships immune to the specific Eye (Ion Eyes <-> immune to Being Insta-Killed; Parasite Eyes <-> immune to reclamation)
  • Sabotage hack.

Raid Engines & Counterattack Guard Posts: Counterattack Waves are 4x as large as normal waves, and use the tech level of the triggering planet if it's higher than the AI tech level.
  • Attack while AIP is as low as possible.
  • Never trigger multiple counterattack waves at once.

Snipers & Sniper Guardians: Scout Starships provide Counter-Sniper Coverage.

AI superweapons: See "Responding to AI superweapons" in my other guide.

Wormhole Guard Posts (if you want to neuter everything): Implosion Artillery, Artillery Golem

Neutering AI homeworlds: Depending on the Core Guard Posts, one can sometimes attack an AI homeworld before the Core Shield Generators (CSGs) are down. This triggers neither the 10-min-to-exo-wave timer, nor the huge strategic reserve, so it can be worthwhile. On the downside, this temporarily alerts the homeworld.
  • The CPA Guard Post makes this strategy undesirable. Others, like the Wrath Lance, can be ignored by e.g. bringing only AoE-immune ships (like Missile Frigates or Space Planes). The Core Grav Reactor Post can be destroyed before all CSGs are down, but increases both AIP and the AIP Floor.
  • Things one can neuter: Hybrid facilities, Orbital Mass Driver, Ion Cannons, Force Fields, Fortresses, Dire Guardian Lair, Core Warhead Interceptor, Special Forces Guard Post. Also all present guardians and ships (incl. the barracks), though this seems undesirable - the AI can reinforce the system while one attacks it, after all.

AI homeworlds: Destroying both of these is one way to beat the game. So there are some additional factors to consider once all CSGs are down:
  • Use SC Scouts to have permanent Scout Intel despite the permanent planet-wide tachyon coverage. Move them far out of the way so they don't get destroyed for weird reasons.
  • Only attack the first homeworld once you've cleared paths to both homeworlds.
  • Destroying the first AI homeworld increases AIP by ~30 and the AIP Floor by ~80. So don't attack one while a CPA or exo wave is imminent, since this AIP increase would make the wave much more dangerous.
  • After attacking an AI homeworld, its command station must be destroyed within 10 min, or an exo wave is triggered. This is completely doable.
  • Destroying the first AI homeworld basically gains you nothing by itself; it doesn't even stop that AI from sending waves.
  • Destroying AI homeworlds is easier than one might expect. Once you have enough resources to destroy the homeworld in 10 min and survive the next wave or two, you are ready to win the game.

Destroying AI homeworlds:
  • Once the Orbital Mass Driver is down, destroying homeworlds is pretty trivial with a few Martyrs, the Champion, and even a tiny fleet ball. One well-placed Martyr Mk IV or Lightning Warhead can destroy an entire strategic reserve, plus Core Guard Posts within range.
  • AI homeworlds are about the only thing that could possibly warrant the use of (Mk I) Nukes. This destroys everything except Mk V ships and starships, and removes supply (which disables Force Fields and Fortresses).
  • Champion + SC Jumpship are insane vs. AI homeworlds: Since the AI has planet-wide tachyon coverage, one must keep the jumpships alive by putting a force field on the wormhole used to exit the system. Then one can trivially and instantly deposit one's ships wherever one likes, e.g. next to Ion Cannons and Core Guard Posts.

I hope this will help someone. Feedback is welcome.

Offline Alex Heartnet

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Re: Guide - Tactical Offense
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2014, 09:13:53 PM »
Could you add a section for dealing with the Subcommanders from Vengeance of the Machine?

Offline MondSemmel

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Re: Guide - Tactical Offense
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2014, 03:46:06 AM »
I've played lots of campaigns, but I feel oddly unequipped to write about those. There's no full list of Subcommanders on the wiki, and I can't even recall ever seeing a clear indication in-game whether a planet has a subcommander or not.

From what little descriptions there are on the wiki, I do remember frequently fighting the Paranoid type (system full of Shield Guard Posts; since these don't really fight back, and I rarely want to snipe a command station anyway, I typically consider these boons), and the one who bunches up everything in the system in a single giant blob of doom and force fields (challenging; some counters to this include Artillery Golem, SC Penetrators, SC Implosion Artillery, or maybe even a Lightning or EMP Warhead).

Offline Toranth

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Re: Guide - Tactical Offense
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2014, 02:48:01 PM »
I've played lots of campaigns, but I feel oddly unequipped to write about those. There's no full list of Subcommanders on the wiki, and I can't even recall ever seeing a clear indication in-game whether a planet has a subcommander or not.
Every planet with a subcommander has a special Command Station, and vice versa.  So you can always identify if there is a Subcommander present.

Which Subcommander can be difficult to tell, however - Subcommander type is not linked to Command Station type.
Sometimes it can be easy.

Bunkerer  -  Command Station and all guardposts (except Wormhole) way off to the side of a system, away from wormholes.  Lots of Spire Shield and combat GPs.
Lobber  -  Focuses on long-range Guardposts.  Sniper, Implosion, and Plasma usually.
Obstructionist  -  Puts Spire Shield GPs over the wormholes - You can get it, but not out.
Rude Gesture  -  Uses Spire Shield and a large number of Counterattack posts in a cluster around the Command Station.
Knife Fighter  -  Puts all the guardposts within attack range of the wormholes, leading to instant combat.  Can be very brutal.
Paranoid  -  Uses lots (6-12) Command Station Shield Guard Posts, scattered in a circle around the outside of a system.

Then special Command Stations:
Photon Lance
Troop Accelerator
Munitions Booster
Rail Cannon

I think that's the complete list.

Offline Lord Of Nothing

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Re: Guide - Tactical Offense
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2014, 05:21:06 PM »
Just a quick note: If you want to see what subcommander type a planet is, the F3 key switches on an info-mode which, among other things, gives the subcommander type at the bottom of the new window in the top center of the screen.

Offline Kahuna

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Re: Guide - Tactical Offense
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2014, 10:32:09 PM »
Which Subcommander can be difficult to tell
In-game press F3 to see which one it is.
set /A diff=10
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