Author Topic: The more homeplanets the merrier?  (Read 4367 times)

Offline Haagenti II

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The more homeplanets the merrier?
« on: November 03, 2009, 02:55:15 PM »
In the new expansion I have been playing with multiple home planets, and I have to say that life seems much easier:
- you start with 8 planets, which means you have to destroy 7 less orbitals and warp gates, which means 140 less AI than normal. This is a HUGE advantage over single player
- the homeplanets cover each other, easier to create a defensible cluster at start
- you get 14K extra research much quicker than normal, allowing you to start with better units
- 16 engineers will ensure that you chuck out units at start at a ferocious rate: you have a good chance of taking a few planets thus making your cluster even more defensible
- you need less expansion: each planet is loaded with resources and can easily support a II, III and 2 I Energy, giving you a LOT of energy
- The raids are not 8 times as big, but there are now 8 raids. A crucial difference since they now no longer arrive at your defenses at the same time and are subject to defeat in detail.

After 30 minutes, I have a defensible 12 planet cluster, have patiently started what will eventually be a 3000 turret killing zone and am ready to start knowledge raiding and Data Center destroying with a few 1000 ships.

The AI is at less than 100 and has hardly had the chance to reinforce its planets. Unless something starts happening its Game Over.
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Offline x4000

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2009, 02:58:41 PM »
Well -- the AI does get 16 raids at a time against you instead of the normal 8.  And if they should happen to slip through and take out any one of those planets of yours, you're history.  Often those multi-planet starts can end sooner than you'd think just from that.  And the AI will also be correspondingly larger in general, even with a lower AI Progress.
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Offline laxrulz777

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2009, 05:08:49 PM »
I think whether or not this makes things easier or harder depends on whether or not you play on simple hub or complex realistic... I tend to play on larger, complex, realistic maps because, well, I'm a masochist apparently. The thought of having to gear up for the 30-40 wormholes I'd have to cover across 8 starting systems is a bit intimidating (although now you've prompted me to go home and try)...

Does this give you access to 8 different bonus ships?

Offline x4000

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2009, 05:10:29 PM »
I think whether or not this makes things easier or harder depends on whether or not you play on simple hub or complex realistic... I tend to play on larger, complex, realistic maps because, well, I'm a masochist apparently. The thought of having to gear up for the 30-40 wormholes I'd have to cover across 8 starting systems is a bit intimidating (although now you've prompted me to go home and try)...

This is true, I think this is a big factor.  If you had so many hostile incoming wormholes, it would be all but impossible to defend.

Does this give you access to 8 different bonus ships?

Yep, sure does!
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Offline Haagenti II

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2009, 05:38:20 PM »
If you take a map where your starting planets all over the universe, you are dead meat. But if they are close together, they cover each other. If they are close to each other and in a corner it's even better.

With the combined power of 8 home worlds, you can assemble 3 strike forces in the first 10 minutes to take out three planets. Then you need to stop the raids (but they'll be at AI 70 or so...not so bad), in the next 15 minutes you can kill the other neighbours (except one), and then you know exactly where the next raids will be landing.

And among your 8 starting specials, there are bound to be some good ones: Raiders, Deflector Drones etc.  Some other specials become much better, as the increased unit cap makes them much more useful: Munitions, Snipers, the new Long-Distance guns etc.
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Offline Nibelung44

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2009, 03:14:51 AM »
why the unit cap is not linearly proportional to the number of simulated players though? I can see I get 24 flagships as expected, but only 10 force shields (iirc) instead of 5... work as designed or bug?

Offline Haagenti

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2009, 05:07:24 AM »
I think it is work as designed.

Note that you get 8 specials at start, and that gives you an increased unit cap on that side.
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Offline darke

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2009, 08:02:37 AM »
Somewhat rambling post since I'm half asleep. :)

The unit cap is set to match up with multiplayer as everyone has somewhat smaller amounts of ships allocated to them in multiplayer games compared to a single player game. So the total number of each type of ship will usually be somewhat less then eight times the maximum number of ships if you're playing an eight player game.

N-player start worlds are a bit easier to begin with, depending upon the AI, I haven't played them extensively on anything less then 8.3. The issue with them is they get progressively harder as the game goes by, by a significant amount. Since the balance is assumed that for an 8-player world, you've got 8-humans trying to wipe the AI out, however in 8-start-world games you've got one player trying to micro a significant amount of ships.

Then there's the increased size of attack waves, I'm used to getting around 4000+ ships every 20 minutes by the 2 hour mark in my AI10 games. Plus the significantly increased amount of ships reinforcing adjacent AI worlds.

Then of course there's the problem that with you trying to move around a 3000+ attack fleet, and the AI moving around a 2000+ mobile attack force, that basically your machine slows to a crawl as well. :)

Generally I wouldn't recommend playing at more then 4-start-worlds. It'll mean less hurt in the long run, you'll actually get something out of the advanced science labs (since the maximum number of special ships is 8 ), and you probably won't end up ever using more then a couple of your special ships anyway since you simply won't have enough knowledge to get the higher tiers, nor the resource in the long run to maintain such a huge fleet.

One thing that doesn't scale is that you don't get more energy. In an 8 player game, each player can place a single MkI/II/III reactor on each of each other's worlds without it loosing power, however since you're only a single player, you can still only put a single MkI/II/III reactor per world, and with this you've got to try and sustain a massive army. As a result I usually completely skip the MkI series of ships since you simply can't afford to spare the resource to power the powerplants to support them. :)

As X mentioned, you have to protect 8 home command centres, rather then just one. This can get surprisingly difficult at times when I've had a bunch of AI ships (usually some form of teleporter or cloaked ship) slip past my main defenses and somehow manage to get to assault one of my considerably less defended planets. Usually it means I need to load the game a few seconds after I notice the warning message. :(

I can't seem to find it at the moment, but there should be a longish thread started by myself discussing all this with His X-ness back when he first introduced the game mode. I recall the summary of the discussion was that it's a little differently balanced, but it was supposed to play as a "variant" so it wasn't supposed to match perfectly up with either the normal single player or normal multiplayer gameplay. :)

Offline Haagenti

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2009, 08:32:58 AM »
N-player start worlds are a bit easier to begin with, depending upon the AI, I haven't played them extensively on anything less then 8.3. The issue with them is they get progressively harder as the game goes by, by a significant amount.

Great. Just what I have been looking for :) Though I'm still playing on the lowly vanilla 8.

Since the balance is assumed that for an 8-player world, you've got 8-humans trying to wipe the AI out, however in 8-start-world games you've got one player trying to micro a significant amount of ships.

The only micromanagement I *used* to do was with wormhole entrances to get rid of Lightning Turrets. It looks like Bombs are going to help there.

Then there's the increased size of attack waves, I'm used to getting around 4000+ ships every 20 minutes by the 2 hour mark in my AI10 games. Plus the significantly increased amount of ships reinforcing adjacent AI worlds.

My philosophy is that if you have 1 III turret for every 2 AI ships these waves tend to resolve themselves with minimal player interaction.

Generally I wouldn't recommend playing at more then 4-start-worlds. It'll mean less hurt in the long run, you'll actually get something out of the advanced science labs (since the maximum number of special ships is 8 ), and you probably won't end up ever using more then a couple of your special ships anyway since you simply won't have enough knowledge to get the higher tiers, nor the resource in the long run to maintain such a huge fleet. I usually completely skip the MkI series of ships since you simply can't afford to spare the resource to power the powerplants to support them.

That is what I already gathered. Also good to ease the load on my CPU.

One thing that doesn't scale is that you don't get more energy. In an 8 player game, each player can place a single MkI/II/III reactor on each of each other's worlds without it loosing power, however since you're only a single player, you can still only put a single MkI/II/III reactor per world, and with this you've got to try and sustain a massive army.

But it does allow you (as you have much more resources per planet) to easily sustain a III, and possibly a 2nd II and I on each planet.

It was supposed to play as a "variant" so it wasn't supposed to match perfectly up with either the normal single player or normal multiplayer gameplay. :)

True. But I'll still annoy X with balance reports.
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Offline x4000

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2009, 10:17:43 AM »
It doesn't annoy me at all -- I think it's a valid line of inquiry.  At this stage, based on all the testing that darke has done (and the general amount of play in multiplayer, which is admittedly variously different in balance from the multi-planet starts), it's just going to take more than a small bit of data to get me to rebalance this.  All data is good, and I thank you for providing it, but I just need to accumulate more (either from multiple plays of your own, or a longer game in general, or from other players in general).  There's also a possibility that your particular playstyle might simply aggravate some balance issues with the multi-planet starts, and that will have to be evaluated carefully.

Main thing I'm trying to avoid is flailing, because the multi-planet starts are fairly mature(ish) at this stage in a design sense, even if they are a much less-played game mode.  But this doesn't mean that in any way I don't want feedback, because I would like to get them very well balanced even if that balance is, in the end, different from that of the main game and multiplayer.  So keep it coming!
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Offline Haagenti

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2009, 11:39:17 AM »
Of course more data is needed preferably in the form of an unbeatable strategy.

My early report was just meant to elicit other experiences. I have no clue how strong the AI will become later on. I will report further with more experience.

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Offline x4000

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2009, 11:43:16 AM »
Of course more data is needed preferably in the form of an unbeatable strategy.

Now THAT sounds like you. ;)

My early report was just meant to elicit other experiences. I have no clue how strong the AI will become later on. I will report further with more experience.

All good with me! I was just explaining why I'm not doing anything yet, but also why the reports don't "annoy" me. :)
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Offline laxrulz777

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2009, 01:12:20 PM »
I'd be interested to see how some of the different build styles identified here (http://arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,1953.0.html) are impacted by this playstyle. My thought is that turtling (especially in a low AI progress game) becomes the right strategy with the huge increase in resource income and jump start in knowledge (essentially starting with 26k knowledge rather than 12k). A few key warp gate raids might help to cut the frontier down quick...

If you're capped at 8 special ships then there's probably some strong logic in only starting with 3-5 planets to maximize your long term strength relative to the AIs volume

I still think that this largely depends on your map style. I tested a bunch of Complex/Realistic maps last night and the number of connections was between generally between 7-12 external connections with a minimum of 5 (a very unusual map) and a maximum of 22 (two of the starting worlds were on long hops out of the "cluster" and so exposed 6 new connections each).

Offline laxrulz777

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2009, 08:57:30 AM »
Okay, having started several games (and finished one 40 planet map) playing this way, I have to say the balance is all kinds of f'd up (which is probably intentional/ok).

Teleport Stations, which I view as somewhat weak in the one planet version, are ridiculous when  you can get a stack of 100 together. They can wipe out ANY guard post easily in the early game (usually losing only one or two ships) and in the late game they can teleport close to draw off ships then jump back to kill off the guard post and jump a third time to kill the ships in space (basically, splitting the guard post in two). I found that this worked all the way until the end.

I found that starting with 3 planets was perhaps the "easiest" way to play while starting with 8 was a micro management nightmare and the spawn of waves was very, very difficult to handle because that first wave of 400-500 ships is tough to kill unless you manage to get a board that has you completely in a corner with only one outlet. Judicious use of the pause key was critical to stay alive and it became very close to a TBS (not necessarily a bad thing).

Your research strategy is completely different early game. Not only do you have 8 times the cap but you have 8 times the income rate for the first 16k knowledge. This makes a huge difference and I would encourage anyone who does this to completely turtle until you get at or near your starting 26k knowledge.

Simple maps are the easiest with Complex/Hub being the hardest (again, unless you get a map seed that puts all of your starting planets in a very small cluster).

It's a fun version but very different.

Offline Haagenti

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Re: The more homeplanets the merrier?
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2009, 09:04:15 AM »
Spoke maps are even easier, as you often get all your planets in one "wheel", and can quickly reduce this to something with one or two connections.
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