Author Topic: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups  (Read 2240 times)

Offline winkrometer

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« on: February 25, 2014, 01:43:14 AM »
So, total newb to the game, near the end of my first game (difficulty 5, 80 planets, all ship types on, both AIs vanilla).

The situation:
I'm starting to stage an attack on my first home world, when I see my planets-being-attacked go from 0 to 1, but with only about a dozen ships.  I pause and take a look (like I always do) to see what's going on.  I find it's getting attacked by 3 starships - Plasma Siege Mark III, Leech Mark III, and Beam Starship, and a few minor ships which were immediately caught in tractors and aren't relevant to my question.  I'm at 15 planets and AI Progress is at only 118 [1].

My response:
I send my entire staged combat fleet with >1000 ships, including 5 or so starships of my own, on its 6 assault transports, to the planet, which is only 2 hops from where I'm staging.  It's completely a mix of ship types - almost every type of fleet ship I can build up to this point (all ARS's in galaxy captured) - 9 types of mark I, 4 mark II, 2 mark III, 2 mark IV, with the mark III and mark IV ships maxed out.  The command station is nearly as far from the wormhole they come in by as it could get on any planet (nearly opposite sides of the green circle).  I get my 6 assault transports on top of them when they're about halfway to my command station (i.e. close to the middle of the green circle), and drop my entire fleet on them.

The result:
I manage to kill ONE of them before I lose the forcefield, the command station, the Ion Cannon, and the core fab on the planet.  The other two die without escaping, but it's obviously too late for me to save the two irreplaceable structures.

Now, I'm betting they got activated as "threat" when I took out a couple tachyon stations nearby, so the attack itself made me go "yikes", but didn't result in a question by itself.  However, my question is...how exactly do I defend against this type of enemy attack?  I literally threw just about everything I had at them and still lost the planet...

Offline Kahuna

  • Core Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,210
  • Kahuna Matata!
Re: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2014, 04:48:59 AM »
Your first post^^ Welcome!


Build something like this between your Command Station and the hostile wormhole. Just add Gravitational Turrets under the Force Field (Next to the Tractor, Lightning and Flak Turrets). Also you obviously need more Force Fields and to look at the enemy ship Hull types and then check which Turrets/Ships have damage multiplier vs that Hull type (AKA which Turrets/Ships counter that enemy ship (it's hull type))

Plasma Sieges Starships have "Artillery" Hull which is countered by Needler Turrets..
Leech Starships have "Heavy" Hull which is countered by Needler and Laser Turrets..
and Spire Beam Starships have "Medium" Hull which is countered by Missile Turrets.
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 winkrometer

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2014, 01:04:05 AM »
Thanks for the welcome.  :)

Ok, so:
1. That means capturing several additional planets (at least 3) to get L5 turrets OR spend half the research I've acquired this game on turrets OR both.
2. I don't know what they're going to attack with until it's way too late to build those turrets at runtime, so I would have to build them in advance.
3. Even then, that literally can defend 3 planets, because 30 turrets of each defensive type means I hit my cap.  If I don't know where they're going to attack, how exactly does this setup help?  I must be missing something major, here...
« Last Edit: February 27, 2014, 01:06:58 AM by winkrometer »

Offline Kahuna

  • Core Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,210
  • Kahuna Matata!
Re: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2014, 04:57:53 AM »
Ok, so:
1. That means capturing several additional planets (at least 3) to get L5 turrets OR spend half the research I've acquired this game on turrets OR both.
2. I don't know what they're going to attack with until it's way too late to build those turrets at runtime, so I would have to build them in advance.
3. Even then, that literally can defend 3 planets, because 30 turrets of each defensive type means I hit my cap.  If I don't know where they're going to attack, how exactly does this setup help?  I must be missing something major, here...
That screenshot just shows the optimal setup.. how the Turrets, Force Fields and Command Station should be positioned for maximum efficiency. Force Field(s) protect the Command Station.. Turrets protect the Command Station and the Force Field(s) Protecting the Command Station.. Tractor, Gravitational, Flak and Lightning Turrets protect the other Turrets.. Force Field(s) protect the Tractor, Gravitational, Flak and Lightning Turrets.. Counter Sniper and Missile Turrets protect everything. All of this should be built right between the Command Station and the hostile wormhole. That's because of the AI pathing. When AI ships come trough the Wormhole (or spawn at the wormhole if it's a wave) they move in a straight line towards your Command Station. When you build a Force Field(s) (and the other stuff too) on that line it will interfere with their movement.

I'm not saying you need to unlock all of those. That's just how it works. If your defenses (if there are any) get overrun then you need to unlock more defensive stuff (Turrets, Force Fields, Minefields, Military Command Stations). You have to decide what you need and when. All of this depends on the map seed, AIs and other stuff.

You do need to know (and control (gate raiding)) where the AIs are going to attack (open the galaxy map and press W to see hostile wormholes) because that's where you're going to build your defenses. But you don't necessarily need to know when they attack. The purpose of defenses is to prevent and stop attacks if and when they occur. If you don't have defenses.. then obviously there are no defenses to prevent or stop attacks.. so you need to be prepared. You should not have undefended planets adjacent to AI planets. You should have 1-4 "whipping boys" where you take all the waves (whipping boy=a heavily defended planet where the AIs send their waves). I said 1-4 because that's the number that usually works. In most maps you must have more than 1 or 2 whipping boys because that's usually not enough to create a chokepoint. The AI will be able to go past the whipping boys. And 3-4 because that's the maximum number of whipping boys that will be able to stop waves and other attacks (CPAs..). You can only have a certain number of whipping boys because you will run out of Turrets and other defensive stuff so the defenses wont be strong enough to stop the attacks if you have 37 whipping boys. Obviously if a planet doesn't "take waves" it doesn't need as strong defenses. But even if a planet doesn't take waves it can still be hit by a CPA if the CPA fleet is able to past your whipping boys. That's why people build chokepoints. The purpose of whipping boys is to take the attacks and stop them.. and to protect the other planets.. and ultimately your Home Command Station.
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 Draco18s

  • Resident Velociraptor
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,091
Re: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 11:35:09 AM »
As a side note:

Disabling the Force Field over the command station probably would have saved at least one of those structures.

Plasma Siege ruin things under Force Fields and have devastating range.  12% of the damage they deal to the Force Field is dealt to everything under it.

Offline winkrometer

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 01:57:10 PM »
Thanks for your replies so far, however, I'm not finding them useful as yet.

This wasn't an attack from a wave.  This wasn't an attack from a CPA.  I have whipping boys - they were ignored.

I attacked an core AI planet (enemy home-world adjacent) tachyon detectors with a suicide fighter attack in order to open up the homeworld to my assault transports as part of staging.  It activated the starships as "threat".  They flew through enemy space to one of my worlds and attacked via a wormhole from a planet without a warp gate.  I had turrets guarding the planet, but in limited supply because it wasn't being wave attacked.  If I'd guarded it as well as one of my whipping boys, it would have been fine.

The planet being attacked was a planet deep in enemy space, not near my homeworld at all.  I took control of it because it had an ARS and a Core Fab (ion cannon was a bonus).  There was no way to make a chokepoint protecting it without capturing dozens of more planets.  It wasn't even the closest planet to the AI planet where the starships originated - the closest planet was where I was staging my fleet.

So, I guess I needed to ask my question in a different way.  How do I *reactively* defend against a starship attack?  Are there any human turrets that totally demolish AI starships (like the AI has against mine) or any bonus fleet ships that are exceptionally effective against starships (even if they're useless against fleet ships)?  Or are starships activated as "threat" basically guaranteed to wreak major havoc?

(Aside to Draco18s: The Plasma Siege is the one I focus-fired on and destroyed before I lost any structures, but by then the other two had nearly taken down my forcefield.)

Offline Kahuna

  • Core Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,210
  • Kahuna Matata!
Re: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 02:58:04 PM »
Are there any human turrets that totally demolish AI starships (like the AI has against mine) or any bonus fleet ships that are exceptionally effective against starships (even if they're useless against fleet ships)?
look at the enemy ship Hull types and then check which Turrets/Ships have damage multiplier vs that Hull type (AKA which Turrets/Ships counter that enemy ship (it's hull type))

Plasma Sieges Starships have "Artillery" Hull which is countered by Needler Turrets..
Leech Starships have "Heavy" Hull which is countered by Needler and Laser Turrets..
and Spire Beam Starships have "Medium" Hull which is countered by Missile Turrets.


(Aside to Draco18s: The Plasma Siege is the one I focus-fired on and destroyed before I lost any structures, but by then the other two had nearly taken down my forcefield.)
you obviously need more Force Fields
a nice trick: if you're being attacked by a Plasma Siege Starship move Engineers out of the Force Field and order them to repair x building. The Engineers will repair the x to full health during the Plasma Siege's reload time.

How do I *reactively* defend against a starship attack?
Well it wasn't specifically a "starship attack". They most likely were just free threat ships that "found" a poorly defended human planet. If AIs' threat ships have higher firepower than the stuff on your planet they're going to attack.
Anyway.. load ships into transports and go defend ASAP. If you have enough Engineers you can build more Turrets and/or Force Fields. If you don't have more turrets you can temporarily scrap some Turrets somewhere.
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 winkrometer

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2014, 09:17:09 PM »
Turrets simply aren't a useful answer, even with the damage multiplier.  They just aren't.  The damage multiplier one is well known to me; it's just not nearly enough against many starships unless you have a TON of turrets.  The AI, on the other hand, has at least one guard post that can easily kill ANY starship by itself (but can't target fleet ships) - I was hoping for something more like that.

To prove it, let's do the math.

Plasma III has 30,000,000 health.
Needler III does 10,000 / sec, which is 30,000 / sec vs Plasma III (x3 multiplier).
With 32 Needler III turrets (1/3 cap), that's ~1,000,000 / sec vs Plasma.
That's 30 seconds to kill it.
Plasma III does 300,000 dmg/sec.  That's still 10,000,000 damage by the time you can kill it - more than enough to kill most command stations regardless of whether they're guarded by a forcefield or not (due to damage-passthrough).

Basically, as far as I can tell, if a Plasma III shows up at a wormhole which is not already *heavily* guarded, and that wormhole is within its range of the command station or nearby, you've basically lost your command station, and quite likely irreplaceable structures along with it.  Nothing you've said indicates otherwise - they just have too much health and too much damage output.  I know you're trying, but the math just doesn't add up.

I know it wasn't "specifically" a "starship attack" - I'm using the term generically as "Your planet was attacked by starships and it's not a whipping boy.  How do you defend yourself reactively without losing irreplaceable structures?"  It sounds like the answer is, "There is no clear way to defend against this attack - all you can do is throw whatever you can at it and hope for the best."  I built more turrets with the correct multipliers as they came in, optimizing to defend the station.  I threw my entire fleet at it as soon as it could get there.  It still wasn't enough, and there's basically no way to prevent it from happening.  Unless someone has some radically different advice, of course.


Offline Kahuna

  • Core Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,210
  • Kahuna Matata!
Re: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2014, 03:57:04 AM »
I just told you how I defend my planets on 10/10 difficulty games (which I win) and you say it doesn't work on 5/5 difficulty level. I can't help you.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 04:36:29 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 Bognor

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 570
Re: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2014, 07:51:34 AM »
Eh, I play the game quite differently from Kahuna, so I'll have a go.

It sounds to me like your problem is not with mixed starships per se, but with the kind of nasty threat that can be stirred up by short excursions into core worlds, that can hit important worlds distant from your whipping boy or homeworld.  The starship combo you got was particularly brutal, but I think a group of core fleet ships or a few guardians could have caused a similar result.  So here are a few tricks I use to defend remote outposts:
  • Teleporting ships.  Teleraiders are probably my favourite starting bonus ship, but Telestations work, and Teleleeches should, too.  I research high marks as soon as I can, keep them together in a common control group on a planet near the centre of my empire, and dispatch them to deal with threat, hybrid incursions, roaming enclaves, and so on.  They can traverse the galaxy very quickly, and provide decent DPS.  Obviously this is dependent on having the right ships available, though if you have Spirecraft enabled, Jumpships can fulfill the same role.
  • Cheap bonus fleet ships + Space Docks.  Also dependent on having the right ships available, but there are many more options: not just all the Neinzul younglings, but Vampires, Cutlasses, Infiltrators, Eyebots, Autobombs, Spiders, even ordinary Fighters in a pinch.  The idea is to have maybe 5-8 Space Docks by your irreplaceables, plus a few engies for support.  Select the Docks and V-right-click nearby, so that any ships that emerge will immediately defend the planet.  When threat arrives, you churn out as many of these ships as you can as quickly as you can.  If you can't because they already exist elsewhere in the galaxy, scrap those so you can build new ones where you need them - it's generally quicker than sending over your existing ships.  This relies on you keeping a few hundred thousand resources in the bank at all times; control groups can help with that.  All ships built by Space Docks have a build time proportional to their metal+crystal cost, so all cheap ships are quick to build.  I mainly use this technique with mark I or II ships.
  • Rush-build extra forcefields.  This is another benefit of having a few engies present.  (Not so useful against Plasma Siege Starships, as Draco mentioned.)
  • Miniforts.  These were introduced to the game specifically to make defending remote outposts easier, without significantly strengthening whipping boys.  They're really only worth the 1000 knowledge when you've got several planets or have multiple homeworlds, as their cap is 2 miniforts per planet per homeworld.  Each one is essentially 1/10th of a regular fortress in build cost, energy cost, DPS, and hitpoints, but with a shorter range and no penalty against polycrystal.
  • Grav turrets.  Kahuna already mentioned these, but I use them differently.  I normally research all three marks quite early, and only ever need to build mark IIIs.  For each wormhole I'm defending, I'll place two turrets such that they make a triangle with the wormhole, such that ships going from the wormhole to the command station will pass right in between the turrets.  Then I'll place more turrets to blanket the planet with grav fields (hold z while placing to see their ranges).  Barely any ships are immune to gravity, so these will buy you more time for the above strategies to work.
  • One Riot Control Starship, if you can spare it.  It wouldn't have helped you against the starships, but armed with a tractor module and some engine-destroying guns, it can buy you extra time against fleet ships.
When you're at a remote outpost, click CTRL down the bottom of your screen, and set up a planet-specific alert for 1 hostile ship.  That way you'll get a red warning as soon as enemies are present.
Your computer can help defeat malaria!
Please visit the World Community Grid to find out how.

Offline winkrometer

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2014, 11:35:59 PM »
Yes, you are correct, Bognor - and thanks for your multiple-option reply, extremely useful.

The two most relevant items that I wasn't aware of as reactive strategies appear to be:
1. Teleporting ships.  (First game, never seen them.  I'll have to play with those.)
2. Multiple space docks.  (First game, didn't even know you could build more than one space dock at a single planet.)

I didn't try forcefield building once I saw the Plasma Siege, though in retrospect it might actually have been useful against the other two.

The miniforts suggestion is also useful, as I didn't notice their lack of a galaxy-cap.  (I saw "ship cap 2" and went "for 1K knowledge?  really?"  and moved on. :)

One of the reasons I haven't had trouble with fleet ships at all is use of Riot Control starships.

P.S. Kahuna - I'm not saying your strategies don't work for you, or that you don't win games, or that I don't expect to win my game.  I'm saying that you've been answering a different question than I'm asking.  If you're telling me you win every single game and never lose a single structure you can't rebuild while defending with nothing but turrets and mines, that's a different story, but I somehow doubt it.  I was asking how to improve my *reactive* defense, and you told me how to effectively use turrets and mines which are, essentially by definition, *proactive* defense, and a strategy I'm already familiar with which appears insufficient to give sufficient coverage by itself - hence my thread request for advice.  :)

Offline Traveller

  • Jr. Member Mark III
  • **
  • Posts: 96
Re: Defending against mixed enemy starship groups
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2014, 10:59:41 PM »
Responding to a slightly old topic, but:

One thing that has absolutely saved my bacon from threat surprises, is the controls->planet->warn when X aggressive ships are on this planet.  I mark every one of my planets "warn when 1 enemy ship", and every adjacent AI planet "warn when 20 aggressive enemy ships".  Aggressive ships are threat.  If you see one of those warnings pop up, you can glance into the planet and see where the threat is headed, if it's on the move...that will basically double the time you have to react in (because the threat has to move through the enemy system, then into yours and to your command station) at the very least.  There's not much you can do against a plasma siege III and a leech III reactively, but this will /let/ you cram some proactive action in when you might not have otherwise had a chance.  Better yet if you can hit them on them on their own planet, while they are loitering around waiting for the right time to strike.

(Even the 'warn when 1 enemy ship is on this planet' is a huge lifesaver.  I never notice the "planets being attacked" display go from 0 to 1; this warning puts it right in your face.)