Author Topic: What do you want in a general strategy guide?  (Read 1724 times)

Offline Chris_Stalis

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What do you want in a general strategy guide?
« on: May 14, 2015, 08:23:29 PM »
In order to improve my own understanding of the game, I have decided to begin writing a strategy guide for new comers or players who have been out of the loop for a while. The goal is less to claim "do this and win" and more to say "so, here's a mini-objective a lot of people set for themselves, this is why they do it". I'll be writing this up in word and publishing it on the forums in a dedicated thread when I have something I'd like people to start reviewing.

That said, I'm looking for feedback from people on what topics they would want to see in a general strategy guide for a game like this. I will be including a section on game interface and more concretely formulating what the 3 phases of the game are (see the pinned chess article in this thread for reference), but what game concepts did you as a player find really useful to realize? What did you learn to manage that let you increase from difficulty 6/6 to 7/7? or 7/7 to 8/8?

This guide will be geared to helping players beat 8/8 easier AI types. The first version of the guide will not touch on minor factions, ai plots or champions, though I'll be considering all expansions to be unlocked and included. The two non-standard caveats I'll be including in my demo games will be complex ship types & no auto AIP increase over time. I'll include an appendix later on down the road that will discuss how changing these two game settings also affects them game.

Anyway, back to my main topic: what would you want to see in a guide like this? If you are a new player - what gives you difficulty and keeps you from cranking the AI up? If you're an experienced new player - what did you figure out that helped you feel confident enough to call yourself "experienced"?

Offline Radiant Phoenix

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Re: What do you want in a general strategy guide?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2015, 09:56:37 PM »
I'm not sure exactly what I figured out, but I decided I was "somewhat experienced" once I started consistently winning 7/7. (My next game will be 8/8 unless I'm playing with some new players, or I drop out for a while.)

Oh, I guess: learning that I should pause. Pause. Pause. Pause and think things over. Pause. Give orders while paused, so I can do several things at once. Pause. Don't give the AI any more seconds than I absolutely have to.

I guess I'll give a game plan. Worst case, someone corrects it all and I learn some



My first major objective is to cover every entrance to my homeworld with milcom-3s under glass:
  • For each system adjacent to my homeworld
  • Put a Mk3 forcefield in that system covering the wormhole to my homeworld
  • Put a Mk3 military command station under that same forcefield, right next to the wormhole
  • Build defenses in that system arranged under the assumption that the AI will by trying to run through the wormhole.
  • This system = done
This is represented by the glowing pink phalanx.

My second major objective is to enclose a moderate-sized chunk of systems using a small number of choke points, so I can set up an economy there with minimal defensive effort. Ideally, my homeworld will be inside this cluster. The green phalanxes are the chokes, and the corn represents the fact that the area is basically going to be full of Econ Command Stations.

My third objective is to establish and use the logistics chain necessary to scout the entire mape and capture the important things, like CSGs, ARS, broken superweapons, etc.. Also, to clear out the threat fleet. The systems captured in this endeavor are represented by the little camps.

Once I've done that, I guess the next step is to go for the homeworlds.
  • Know what you're going to face
  • Take out the OMDs on the homeworld and whichever core worlds you plan to go through.
  • Clear a path through the Tachyon Sentinels such that you can drive a cloaked transport up to the AI homeworld.
  • Gather your fleet completely.
  • Blow up the homeworld guard posts until they are dead.
  • Blow up the AI Home Command station
  • Tank the reprisal
  • Clear out threat fleet again
  • Repeat for AIHW2

Offline Toranth

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Re: What do you want in a general strategy guide?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2015, 10:30:02 PM »
That said, I'm looking for feedback from people on what topics they would want to see in a general strategy guide for a game like this. I will be including a section on game interface and more concretely formulating what the 3 phases of the game are (see the pinned chess article in this thread for reference), but what game concepts did you as a player find really useful to realize? What did you learn to manage that let you increase from difficulty 6/6 to 7/7? or 7/7 to 8/8?
If you don't want to write a "How to Win" guide, I guess what's left is the "how to think about the game" guide.

I'd say the two topics that helped my game improve are the concept of "Less is More", and long-term planning.  These two go together, actually.
Because AI War is different that most RTS games, in that you cannot afford to just go hog-wild with conquering everything, you need to pick the important things.  That means learning to form effective fleets using only what is necessary, rather than everything available.  This helps the player get strong while the AI stays weak - "Less is More".
Closely associated with that is long-term planning.  Picking out all the systems you need to take, and figuring out how to take them, whether to keep or abandon them, and how to do it - that's the planning.  And the goal of the planning is to get as much as possible for as little cost as possible.

Radiant Phoenix has given an example in his post - Even before the game has started, he's already plotted out where he intends to place his stations, where he'll defend, where he'll expand to, and how he will approach and attack the AI Homeworlds.
A fully explained example game might be useful - Detailing exactly why each system should, should not, or might be captured.  If some other players are willing, we could all do an in-depth discussion of the same game - but that probably belongs in a different thread.  In the mean time, many of the AARs of high-difficulty games will show examples of successful strategies, and most players will explain at least some of their decision making process.

Of course, this (the low-to-ultra-low AIP style) isn't the only way to play.  But as you move up in difficulty, it becomes more essential.  At 10/10, you won't last long playing inefficiently.  Of course, you usually won't playing optimally either, but that's just AI War.


Also, Kahuna's turret placement guide is a MUST to reference for how to defend your planets.  Without learning the important techniques there, you can do everything else right and still get killed because of an unlucky wave.

Offline Chris_Stalis

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Re: What do you want in a general strategy guide?
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2015, 03:23:19 AM »
Thank you both. I'll make sure to stretch out the "opening phase" analysis section to better highlight these planning techniques. I was already doing that kind of reflexively (as I'm sure many others do), but being more cognizant and explicity about it in the analysis sounds like it would be more helpful than glossing past some of it.

However, I do want to nitpick one comment:
Also, Kahuna's turret placement guide is a MUST to reference for how to defend your planets.  Without learning the important techniques there, you can do everything else right and still get killed because of an unlucky wave.
While putting this guide together, I'm going to be very reflexively wary of the word "must". At all points in this guide, I will be striving to be dispassionate in describing strategies. I'll try to be funny when I can, but I don't want this guide to nudge the readers to adopt any one particular play style. I'm largely working to catalogue what the different play styles and thought processes are, so that the readers can decide if they want to give those approaches a try.

I'll probably start making more sense when I actually have a few sections to publish. Keep an eye out for a post on Sunday with the interface. I'll be looking for feedback on tone and style while I continue compiling the later sections. Some of the ToC should also be outlined by then.

Offline Chris_Stalis

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Re: What do you want in a general strategy guide?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2015, 08:48:16 PM »
I've started writing the guide and have a first draft I'd like folks to look over. It is nowhere near done, but I need some feedback on tone, depth of detail, and presentation style. I'll be happy to take notes on specific content that might be useful, but please keep in mind my earlier caution against the word "must" in the document.

Goals of the document at this stage are: be approachable, be entertaining to read, contain information useful to the audience.

I also need to know: Should I break off the "tutorial" section into a seperate doc and keep this to just strategy, or is this overview a good level to include in a strategy article?

If anyone wants to participate in helping me with this, send me a private note with what you'd be interested in doing. I'll figure out how we can collaborate based on your interest.

NOTE: PLEASE let me know if I should package in a format other than pdf. It's the most universal one I can think of, but if there's a better one, I'd love to hear it.

Offline Tolc

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Re: What do you want in a general strategy guide?
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2015, 08:02:00 PM »
Just had a short (not in depth) look at it. I like the humour so far and the presentation style is nice as well (maybe you can establish the star trek guy as a short "tips" section that appears every now and then when applicable...Sorry to all Star Trek fans, I keep forgetting his name).

information useful to the audience: check. I just learned that you can choose your home planet? I didn't know that one...(Granted I'm still a noob myself and in my second game).

The tutorial section is fine as it is, I think. You can always add a short disclaimer for experienced players to skip it, if they don't want to read it in my opinion.

PDF is the best format for this I think. But as long as you're not distributing it as .docx files, it shouldn't matter too much.

Offline Radiant Phoenix

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Re: What do you want in a general strategy guide?
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2015, 11:16:36 AM »
His name is Picard, and he is well known for his facepalm.

I would be interested in something along the lines of "good expansion material for new players to use", such as:
  • FC: Human Resistance: Allied forces that show up sometimes when there's a fight
  • ZR: Broken Golems (Easy): Big, powerful ships you can find
  • CoN: Neinzul Roaming Enclaves, at least until they get nerfed: at least a thousand extra Mk3 ships when you really need them.
  • LotS: Spirecraft (Easy): More big, powerful ships you can find.
  • AS: Normal+Champion mode with Alt Champion Progress and no Alt Champion Nemesis (or whatever they're actually called): Get yourself a respawning big powerful ship
  • VotM: ???
  • DoW: ???
The basic idea is, "things you can enable to make your life easier with minimal required additional learning"

Then, once you've gotten used to those things, you can start turning up the difficulty dials by enabling the exo-wave responses and such, or turning down the strength of your support.

And, yes, humor is good.

Offline Chris_Stalis

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Re: What do you want in a general strategy guide?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2015, 01:22:47 PM »
Thank you for the feedback so far. Sorry for the slow reply, I've been busy with school and finishing my Master's degree >.>

Anywho, the star trek aside is, presently, just intended to be a one off gag. If I do reuse it, I've got an artist friend who will be working up some icons to use. However, if you like little asides like that, I can certainly make them a bit more common and actually useful in the main article.

Radiant: After some consideration, I think I will include a discussion of the minor factions and note which ones can make life easier on the player vs which ones just make it harder. It might get separated out into its own guide later, though.

I'll be finishing up the interface overview and adding in the section on minor factions sometime this weekend. Please keep an eye out for another post by MondayJune 4th or 5th. Once that's done, please spend a bit of time considering playstyles that you've seen and what generally you've noticed players doing. The list I've got for including thus far is (and in no particular order):

My Little Colony Ship (territory management, such as archipeligo empires vs defined battle line / chokepointed empires)
Turret Stratagems (defensive building usage/placement strategies)
Three K for the Human Worlds in the Open Space (Knowledge management)
Something, Something, Hacking Points (HaP management)
A Treatise on Poking Computers In the Eye (AIP management)
Meditations on a Furball (pros & cons of choosing to focus on fleet ships vs star ships)
A Theory on Rubber Band Boomonomics (elastic vs inelastic defense considerations)
It's Pronounced Nu-cu-lar (Warhead management)
Being the Very Model of a Modern Micro General (finding the right level of micromanagement for your playstyle)

"Turret Strategems" will contain a description of the Kahuna turret placement style (pending approval for inclusion from Kahuna huzzah for approval!). Are there any other general playstyle considerations I'm currently missing? This section would, in a chess instruction book, be the one that spends time discussing proper use and power of each piece type (pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen & king) independent of any specific game. As it relates to AI war, the goal is to discuss the management of broad classes of resources in the game. I don't think I've overlooked any non-minor faction related ones... have I?
« Last Edit: May 27, 2015, 05:40:12 PM by Chris_Stalis »

Offline Traveller

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Re: What do you want in a general strategy guide?
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2015, 04:59:52 PM »
AIP Management is the thing I'd be most interested about in the guide.  I know how to do it, but I don't know much about the tradeoffs or how to make informed, strategic decisions.  What's the actual, practical cost in going from 300 AIP to 320 AIP?  How do I know when a given experimental ship is worth +20 AIP (or some HaP)?  What should cause me to think about changing from a low-AIP to a high-AIP strategy in the middle of a game?  What are particularly dangerous AIP levels that I should try to avoid crossing?  (Mk2 waves don't bother me, but there are other dangers.) 

Offline Kahuna

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Re: What do you want in a general strategy guide?
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2015, 10:23:47 AM »
(pending approval for inclusion from Kahuna).
Sure go ahead. I'd be honored.
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 Chris_Stalis

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Re: What do you want in a general strategy guide?
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2015, 05:38:34 PM »
Thanks for the permission, Kahuna :)

There's been a delay on the update due to my finals schedule. Next update is being pushed back to either June 4th or June 5th. Sorry to anyone who was keeping an eye on this.