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Can't even make it past the tutorial

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Martyn van Buren:
I haven't played an RTS in years, and I never was very good at them, so I'm playing the tutorial campaign hoping it'll help me figure out what to do.  I've been following the directions pretty closely, which gives me a fleet of Mark I and II ships in the 500s, and it suggests making a "gate raid" on the high-level planet that borders your home planet in this map.  So I go through with a little fleet and take out the warp gate, carefully avoiding the guard posts and the command center, and I wind up with 700 or so Mark IV ships on threat which come through and wipe up my home world after about ten minutes no matter how many turrets and minefields I build.  I've run through this four or five times now, and I can't figure out where I'm going wrong----am I handling the raid incorrectly, or am I supposed to be badass enough to take down 700 Mark IVs with half as many Mark I and IIs and fixed fortifications?  I'm sure I should be able to figure it out, but it's got me stumped and I'd appreciate someone experienced showing some mercy on a real noob.

TBH I don't really gate raid usually - but one note.

When you are going to that gate - are your ships shooting at AI ones from other guard posts and kind of "waking them up" or the AI ships decide to go after you only later?

I don't know if there is any special retaliation for attacking the warp gate - and that counterattack looks quite drastic for tutorial.

If you have knowledge try fortresses and mass them on one planet. Add to that as many anti-bomber ships and hope for the best :D
Also missile turrets are very long range and have anti-bomber role. And you should have Mk I unlocked.. unless tutorial has some special rules.

The difficulty of this was toned down in the more recent betas, you might try updating to them to have an easier go of it.  It's definitely possible to win that part of the tutorial, but you have to have a lot of turrets and tractor beams on your home planet to deal with the wave of AI ships.  You'll want to make sure, as was already mentioned, to just shoot at the actual AI guards around the warp gate, not the ones at other guard posts, which means using transports to get right next to the gate that your're going to destroy.  You can also put a starship in low-power mode ("pause" it with the onscreen button so that it won't shoot and looks dark), and then run that up to the gate, bringing it back online with guns blazing right as it gets there.  It would have to be a higher-level starship for that to work, though.

You could probably also put a siege starship in low-power mode in a transport, then take that out to the middle of nowhere on the AI planet, then unload it and have it shoot at JUST the gate before putting it back in the transport and taking it home.  That would still stir up the AI ships around the gate, but no others, and your entire fleet would be healthy and waiting with your turrets on your home planet.

It's definitely something that can be won in many different ways, but it's a TON more challenging than you would normally encounter on a lower difficulty level, and moreso than we meant to have in the tutorial.  That part was my bad, I didn't mean to make it that hard.  I hope it's not too discouraging, normally it's not that bad at all. ;)

Martyn van Buren:
Thanks for the advice!  I had to make two more tries, bringing in starships with transports and pretty much unloading them on top of the gate.  The first one, I wound up with about 500 ships on my tail, and got most of them on the homeworld but not enough to stop them getting the command center, and then the next one somehow I only wound up with about 100 and turrets took care of them fine.  On reflection, I think what I was doing wrong must have been trying to evacuate the starships without putting them back on the transport, so they started fighting more ships on the way out.

One more question---I'm thinking of going back to practice that sort of hopeless-defense situation, and I wonder if there's much you can do with tactics there, or whether it's mostly a matter of building all you can and hoping for the best?

Nice work!  Glad to hear you made it through that. :)

There's a lot of things you can do for that sort of defense, which really isn't that hopeless actually:

1. Minefields strategically in fans out from the wormholes on your planet.

2. Lots of turrets and tractor beams paired with them.

3. Force fields over your important stuff, with turrets OUTSIDE those force fields to help on defending them.

4. A big standing fleet obviously helps.

5. If you are TRULY overwhelmed and it's worth it to spend a few AI Progress points just to survive, you can build some lightning warheads at the missile silo, and have those ready.  When the AI is getting ready to come into your planet, they'll gather around the wormhole on their side first for maximum impact.  With some well-placed lightning warheads through to them, you can take out huge chunks at them (but at an AIP cost).

6. You can also do clever things with EMP warheads on their side, nukes if you REALLY had to, etc.

7. You can also use your light starships and/or flagships to boost the munitions of your turret balls, or of some mobile ships on defense.

8. You could also use a mobile repair station or similar to help out, and you can set your space docks on loop while producing ships straight into Free Roaming Defender mode (V+right-click) at a certain spot on the planet, so as your defenders die new ones come right in.

And there's other stuff, too, but those are the main ones I can think of and that I use.  This sort of defense is actually something you'll be able to routinely deal with as you get more expert with the game, if you're interested in taking things to that level.  Not that you'll HAVE to do that all the time, but that you'll be able to in a conscious fashion if it seems strategically advantageous to do so.  Often if you want to cap a high-level planet early in the game, that's the sort of thing you'd want to consider doing.


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