Author Topic: The Strategic Merits of Astro Trains  (Read 1540 times)

Offline Jotto

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The Strategic Merits of Astro Trains
« on: January 15, 2016, 01:22:43 PM »
Summary: I find the gameplay value of astro trains questionable, and wonder if it's worth having them enabled.

After being away from this game for quite some time, my preferred game settings have changed a lot in the last couple weeks.  One of the major shifts is that, although I have always played with astro trains enabled 4/10, I have recently realized that I don't like them at any level.

I never systematically go after train stations - too much AIP cost, and I only ever blow up train stations on my own planets.  Nor do I go after the trains themselves, though some of my defenses do automatically.  Overall, there is very little strategic depth being added by their presence.  Mostly they just pose an annoyance, on the odd occasion that they tractor-beam a cluster of my army, show up on well-defended planets or slow down my transports.  My mind resorts to pretty shallow "just avoid them" behavior in dealing with them, and it never got more interesting than that.

Perhaps I am missing some significant strategies that someone else could offer.  But in my experience, astro trains are mostly just annoying, and I am seriously considering disabling them on all my future games.
I came to prefer 120 planet maps, alt champ, no automatic AIP or astro trains, and hybrids enabled.

Offline Kahuna

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Re: The Strategic Merits of Astro Trains
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2016, 06:35:26 PM »
Yep. I and others pointed this out some time ago. The changes made to the Astro Trains made them really annoying. The problem is the combination of being unable to reroute them, them being basically indestructible and their power. They do bring challenge if that's what you want. But sometimes their annoyance outweights the fun they bring. I'd probably enable them if I was able to reroute them by destroying the stations. But they will gladly go to the train station 6 hops away instead of the one 2 hops away.

Radar jammer and gravitational trains are annoying. Widow and tractor trains are infuriating. Supply inhibitor and emp trains can cost you the game and can not be destroyed, rerouted nor countered in any way.

Not to mention that the antimatter turret or whatever it was is now completely useless. It was useless even before the astro train change but now it has literally no use.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 06:45:53 PM by Kahuna »
set /A diff=10
if %diff%==max (
   set /A me=:)
) else (
   set /A me=SadPanda
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Offline Toranth

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Re: The Strategic Merits of Astro Trains
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2016, 07:38:55 PM »
Yeah, the old Astrotrains were really boring - they had zero effect on the game aside from annoying alerts and targeting mixups.
The new trains are too powerful, too annoying, and too uncontrollable.  The cargo train 'Special Projects' are just as bad, dropping Golems and Superforts everywhere.

There's so much potential there, but somehow we swing from extreme to extreme with those poor trains...

Offline Kahuna

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Re: The Strategic Merits of Astro Trains
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2016, 07:06:58 AM »
we swing from extreme to extreme with those poor trains...
That reminds me of the frustration a year or a couple of years back when some of the changes went overboard. I had that exact thought when I looked at some of the changes. Astro trains weren't the only thing that went a bit overboard although it's the only thing I can remember at the moment. Pretty sure the other ones got ironed out, that's what betas are for.

EDIT: Actually some of the bonus ships that come with the Ancient Shadows expansion pretty much ruin the game for me.

Another example is the Hive Golem. Before it was able to destroy AI homeworlds alone and now the AI homeworlds have those inhibitor things that automatically destroy the Wasps so it literally doesn't do anything. It feels way too artificial. It's not even a building on the planet, it's just a pop up message that says "x, y and z". There were a lot of good changes too.

For the most part AI War seems pretty balanced to me.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2016, 07:32:58 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 Jotto

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Re: The Strategic Merits of Astro Trains
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2016, 02:32:44 PM »
EDIT: Actually some of the bonus ships that come with the Ancient Shadows expansion pretty much ruin the game for me.

I see.  Which ships do you refer to, out of curiosity? I've only ever played with all ship types enabled, and would be interested in re-evaluating all the common settings I've been using.
I came to prefer 120 planet maps, alt champ, no automatic AIP or astro trains, and hybrids enabled.

Offline Kahuna

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Re: The Strategic Merits of Astro Trains
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2016, 04:43:49 PM »
EDIT: Actually some of the bonus ships that come with the Ancient Shadows expansion pretty much ruin the game for me.

I see.  Which ships do you refer to, out of curiosity? I've only ever played with all ship types enabled, and would be interested in re-evaluating all the common settings I've been using.
Zenith Siege Engines. I really don't like them and I think I've raged about them a couple of times before. When the AI sends 100 of them in addition to other ships you can't do shit except use a Lightning Warhead or let your Command Station be destroyed. That's because of their ability to damage everything under Force Fields (despite the force fields). So basically Zenith Siege Engines are a fleet ship version of Plasma Siege Starship.

If you want to have Ancient Shadows enabled but don't want to deal with Zenith Siege Engines you can manually edit the .sav files to remove the unlock from the AIs as a workaround. Yes it works for AIs too. To do that you will have to go to the settings in game: ESC-->Settings-->Advanced Settings--> and enable "Don't Compress Savegames". Then open the .sav file in a text editor (I use Notepad++) and look for AI 1 and/or 2 and then for the part that starts with "04". For example "|04239:33|" means the AI has unlocked ships 239 (Lightning Frigate) and 33 (Infiltrator). If you wanted to remove the Lightning Frigate unlock you would delete "239:" so it would look like this: "|0433|" (the ":" separates different ships). Note that the AIs can reunlock these ships as long as you have hacked the appropriate backup server in-game. I guess you could make that happen by editing the .sav file too but I haven't been arsed to figure out how. Although it would be quite simple. Save before and after the hack and the compare the .sav files.

I don't remember which expansion Lightning Torpedo Frigates are from but those in addition to Spire Blade Spawners make me disable "Fast Drones" ship types. Shield bearers are also a pain in the butt not in such a bad way. They're more of a challenge rather than an annoyance. Well them protecting other ships from my Tractor beams is quite annoying but that's ok. Spire Railclusters may be a bit too powerful too but they're still ok.

So in short:
Zenith Siege Engine: A reason to disable an expansion or edit a .sav file.
Lightning Torpedo Frigate: I guess it's just that I don't like playing against these.
Spire Blade Spawners: Same as Lightning Torpedo Frigates.
Shield Bearers: May be a bit too powerful.
Spire Railclusters: Ok I guess.

As you may have noticed all low ship cap ships seem more powerful in AI's hands than in player's hands. While you can only get 24 Shield Bearers per Mark lvl the AI can get hundreds.. infinite amounts in fact.

It seems to me that low ships cap ships provide more bang for buck than high ship cap ships even if their cap stats were the same. That's because high ship cap ships aka swarmers, ultra-light and light ships have lower health so they get destroyed much faster. And every time a ship is destroyed the cap dps drops. Whereas it takes much longer for a high health (low ship cap ship) to be destroyed so they can maintain their full dps much longer. That's why Starfleet Commander and Starship Fanatic AIs are so scary.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2016, 04:46:55 PM 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 carldong

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Re: The Strategic Merits of Astro Trains
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2016, 05:26:09 PM »
EDIT: Actually some of the bonus ships that come with the Ancient Shadows expansion pretty much ruin the game for me.

I see.  Which ships do you refer to, out of curiosity? I've only ever played with all ship types enabled, and would be interested in re-evaluating all the common settings I've been using.
Zenith Siege Engines. I really don't like them and I think I've raged about them a couple of times before. When the AI sends 100 of them in addition to other ships you can't do shit except use a Lightning Warhead or let your Command Station be destroyed. That's because of their ability to damage everything under Force Fields (despite the force fields). So basically Zenith Siege Engines are a fleet ship version of Plasma Siege Starship.

If you want to have Ancient Shadows enabled but don't want to deal with Zenith Siege Engines you can manually edit the .sav files to remove the unlock from the AIs as a workaround. Yes it works for AIs too. To do that you will have to go to the settings in game: ESC-->Settings-->Advanced Settings--> and enable "Don't Compress Savegames". Then open the .sav file in a text editor (I use Notepad++) and look for AI 1 and/or 2 and then for the part that starts with "04". For example "|04239:33|" means the AI has unlocked ships 239 (Lightning Frigate) and 33 (Infiltrator). If you wanted to remove the Lightning Frigate unlock you would delete "239:" so it would look like this: "|0433|" (the ":" separates different ships). Note that the AIs can reunlock these ships as long as you have hacked the appropriate backup server in-game. I guess you could make that happen by editing the .sav file too but I haven't been arsed to figure out how. Although it would be quite simple. Save before and after the hack and the compare the .sav files.

I don't remember which expansion Lightning Torpedo Frigates are from but those in addition to Spire Blade Spawners make me disable "Fast Drones" ship types. Shield bearers are also a pain in the butt not in such a bad way. They're more of a challenge rather than an annoyance. Well them protecting other ships from my Tractor beams is quite annoying but that's ok. Spire Railclusters may be a bit too powerful too but they're still ok.

So in short:
Zenith Siege Engine: A reason to disable an expansion or edit a .sav file.
Lightning Torpedo Frigate: I guess it's just that I don't like playing against these.
Spire Blade Spawners: Same as Lightning Torpedo Frigates.
Shield Bearers: May be a bit too powerful.
Spire Railclusters: Ok I guess.

As you may have noticed all low ship cap ships seem more powerful in AI's hands than in player's hands. While you can only get 24 Shield Bearers per Mark lvl the AI can get hundreds.. infinite amounts in fact.

It seems to me that low ships cap ships provide more bang for buck than high ship cap ships even if their cap stats were the same. That's because high ship cap ships aka swarmers, ultra-light and light ships have lower health so they get destroyed much faster. And every time a ship is destroyed the cap dps drops. Whereas it takes much longer for a high health (low ship cap ship) to be destroyed so they can maintain their full dps much longer. That's why Starfleet Commander and Starship Fanatic AIs are so scary.

Aren't Lightning Torpedo Frigate human-only?

Offline Mánagarmr

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Re: The Strategic Merits of Astro Trains
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2016, 10:02:08 PM »
There used to be a time where you couldn't disable them. Those were the days. Also, as others have pointed out, I've never understood the point of the trains. They're just annoying. In some dark past they might've had a valid game function, but I just don't get it and never had. I know Chris explained them some time but I've since forgotten what it was.
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Offline Bognor

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Re: The Strategic Merits of Astro Trains
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2016, 08:59:37 AM »
Radar jammer and gravitational trains are annoying. Widow and tractor trains are infuriating. Supply inhibitor and emp trains can cost you the game and can not be destroyed, rerouted nor countered in any way.
I'm amazed you didn't mention the Tachyon trains.  Their planet-wide beams encourage repetitive micro to replace the single Scout I leave on every planet adjacent to my own.  This could easily be eliminated by limiting the range of their beams. 

Not to mention that the antimatter turret or whatever it was is now completely useless.
Do you mean the Counter Dark Matter Turrets?  I can't remember using them but I'd imagine they'd be a godsend if the AI was using Infiltrator Guardians.
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Offline Jotto

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Re: The Strategic Merits of Astro Trains
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2016, 01:29:28 PM »
I'm amazed you didn't mention the Tachyon trains.  Their planet-wide beams encourage repetitive micro to replace the single Scout I leave on every planet adjacent to my own.  This could easily be eliminated by limiting the range of their beams.

Good point.  Tachyon trains cause endless hassle.

The replies to this thread have helped me crystallize my dislike for astro trains.  I am disabling them on all future games of AIW.
I came to prefer 120 planet maps, alt champ, no automatic AIP or astro trains, and hybrids enabled.