Author Topic: New player questions  (Read 1388 times)

Offline Worblehat

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New player questions
« on: July 02, 2017, 07:24:40 PM »
Hopefully folks are still around to read this...  :)

The wiki and forum searches have been quite helpful (except where wiki info is missing or wrong, of course) but there are plenty of things I'm still not clear on.

Is there ever a situation where the player would not want to hack a design backup? Seems like usually you'd want to add the ship to your own fleet list, or in some cases delete it from the AI's fleet list. On the other hand my starting setup (first post-tutorial game) has a neighboring planet with a Tackle Drone Launcher backup, a 2-jump planet with Powerslaver backup, and a neighboring planet with a Superterminal as the only places with anything interesting on them. So I wouldn't say no to a couple of new fleet ship types, but it's not clear where the AIP for the hacks would come from.

To what extent is it desirable to take planets with no special structures present? Maybe I'm overreacting to the AIP mechanic, but it seems like those are best skipped unless I'm really hurting for energy and/or knowledge. And I am approaching that point in this first game. It's a "realistic" map so there aren't really any choke-points to set up.

I haven't been able to find much info on champions and their best usage. Should I just treat it as a big configurable starship that respawns if killed? It did the starting nebula nicely, but the other nebulae are all 5-6 jumps away, so it won't be doing those for a long while yet. Unless it's particularly important/urgent that I should work on clearing a path to another nebula?
 I've just been having it clear out tachyon guard posts and most unshielded other guard posts in the area, starting with systems with some sort of eye present. But the AI has started putting force shields over missile guard posts, and although with careful micro the champion can probably win that, it would take a ludicrously long time. Nasty combo too - put the guard post that counters bombers and raid starships under the shield that those two units counter. One of the missing pieces of info on the wiki was that raid starships get missile immunity at mk2, which is very good to know...

Interface question - is there any way to have the range circles persist when placing turrets? I can see all the range circles when I select the existing turrets and hit z, and I can see one turret's range circle when I'm in placement mode and mouse over an existing turret, but that's far from ideal.

Does anyone know what happened to the wiki article "Starships: What Are Scout Starships Good For?"? That link now redirects to the Starship page, and the Scout Starship page just has "coming soon" in the how-to-use section. I thought they might be good for long range scouting, but they're only marginally better than drones. They survive at fairly low health, such that they'd die exiting the system to go home and repair. Yay. A bit expensive to explore and picket a single system.

I'm sure I'll have plenty more questions, but that's all I can think of for now.  :)

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2017, 08:31:49 PM »
Welcome to the game and to the forums :)

Is there ever a situation where the player would not want to hack a design backup?
When you would rather spending the Hacking points on something else.

To what extent is it desirable to take planets with no special structures present?
It depends on what kind of game you're playing and where you are in that game. When you're into the meat of a Fallen Spire campaign you may decide to just capture territory in bulk, and laugh at the AIP. Even then that's not necessarily the best course, but it can be feasible.

In a normal, guerilla-warfare-oriented game you might capture a no-special-structures planet because:
1) As you suggested, really needing more M/E/K.
2) It's a good chokepoint position, or otherwise important to your defenses.
3) You might take out the warp gate (and anything non-AIP causing) but not the command station, thus spending part of the AIP cost of taking the planet, to reduce the normal vectors of attack into your territory.

Probably other reasons that don't come to mind right now.

Should I just treat it as a big configurable starship that respawns if killed?
Yea, that works fine. It gets much stronger after more nebulae, though.

is there any way to have the range circles persist when placing turrets?
I forget the exact key combo, but there's something that just shows all range circles; some permutation of ctrl/alt/shift and Z. I think there's another similar one that shows the range circle of the turret you're currently placing, centered on your cursor.


Have fun storming the castle :)
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Offline z99-_

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2017, 09:24:23 PM »
Welcome to the forums! :D

When you hack something, it uses up HaP (hacking points), a valuable resource that can only be increased by increasing the AIP. Having low/negative AIP doesn't prevent you from hacking, but it causes the hacking response to skyrocket to a level that's pretty much impossible to deal with. In addition, the AI's hacking response gets exponentially more fearsome the more times you hack, even with equal AIP. Combine that with the fact that later hack attempts usually occur at higher AIP, and the AI hacking response can get really nasty, so much so that on high AIP games it's not unusual to have unused HaP, simply because the AI would send a game-ending response if you tried anything. There will always be far more hackable objects than what you'll actually be able to hack, so it's best to save your HaP until you've scouted a fair portion of the map, or if you come across something particularly useful/annoying.

How desirable it is to take a planet with relatively little strategic value varies greatly depending on how long the game has been going on, what difficulty you're playing on, how many planets there are, what the map is shaped like, what factions you have enabled, and how you want to win the game. And each of these affects the relative importance of the others, so the only way to really know is through bitter experience - though I'll try to put down a condensed version.

Over everything else, how you want to win determines most of the other variables. How you want to win the game can generally be broken down into high AIP and low AIP. On high difficulties, winning with high AIP is pretty much impossible (at least that's my understanding, I've never played above 7/7 (Yet!)). A high AIP route usually involves having minor factions enabled that can boost your power but require lots of resources (zenith trader, golems, spirecraft, fallen spire, etc), and having map types with chokepoints (clusters, x type, tree, snake, etc). The minor factions are important because a linear increase in AIP does not equal a linear increase in difficulty - going from 200 to 300 is not as difficult as going from 300 to 400; as a result, a high AIP route means you either need to be a better player, or have some fun toys to give you an edge. The map types are important because more territory generally means more avenues of attack for the AI. In that case, taking planets with nothing on them could actually be really beneficial - stopping a planet with connections to 4 of your planets from sending waves or filling with AI units can easily be worth the 20 extra AIP. Plus, the more planets you have far away from the frontlines, the larger the economy you can support. However, with really interconnected map types, you may have to take a LOT of territory before you can really cut down the AI attack vectors and create safe (but fragile) economic planets far away from the fighting. While you try to take all that territory, you'll have increasing AIP, MORE AI attack vectors, and a stagnant economy - a recipe for disaster. So unless you're glutton for punishment (though I guess if you weren't you wouldn't be playing AI War in the first place ;)) High AIP should really only be done for map types with few connections, or ones broken into chunks that you can conquer relatively quickly.

Whew, I think I'm all typed out for now. Anyone else is welcome to add to that, or answer Worblehat's other questions. If not, I'll try to get to them tomorrow.

Ninja'd by Keith, the original ninja.

Offline Worblehat

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2017, 10:24:15 PM »
Thanks, much appreciated!

Since Tackle Drone Launchers and Powerslavers seem to be in the "nice to have" category rather than "must have" or "must deny the AI from using them", I'll let those backups go. I do remember reading some AARs where whether the player could survive one more hack was a major decision.  :)

Looks like I can take five planets to set up an area which still has only three AI neighbors (total of four incoming routes). This also gives some AIP to reduce with the Superterminal. Gate raiding the AI planet connecting to two systems would make that two places to defend. Or I could take that sixth planet, which then borders another four AI worlds. That seems a bit unwise; maybe beachheading for layered defense instead? Eventually one of the two remaining contact points would move out one world, because ZPG. It'll be a while before I can take that mk3 world though.

The game setup is 60 planet realistic, 7/7 Random Easy AIs (one Chivalric, the other Cowardly), with many of the optional shenanigans turned on but not all. Fallen Spire is on (I'll soon visit the first off-homeworld signal), but more to see what it's like than as my primary goal for winning. Champion is on, obviously. Dyson sphere, two of the human minor factions (resistance, marauders, I think both at 2/10). Trader on, golems on medium, Dark Spire, and I think Neinzul Roaming Enclaves. That's all.  :P So far I've seen the trader while scouting, the rest must be farther away.

Still not having much success with scout starships. The one survivor was recently rescued by the champion taking out the tachyon post covering the wormhole home. Firepower-based scouting seems to be working much better than stealth-based scouting so far.

Looks like shift-z and ctrl-z don't do anything (or nothing apparent, anyway). Alt-z shows ship courses, which could be mildly useful.

Definitely having a blast so far; I wish I'd paid closer attention and gotten this game a few years back! So many games, so little time...

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2017, 11:22:27 PM »
Since Tackle Drone Launchers and Powerslavers seem to be in the "nice to have" category rather than "must have" or "must deny the AI from using them", I'll let those backups go.
TDLs are pretty serious business, actually. They'd be fairly high on the list of deny-the-AI types, if you're going to do any of that. A major special-forces swarm with tons of TDLs is a total nightmare. Powerslavers are also pretty bad, but you can take them out from range or with overwhelming firepower without major disruption to your fleet.

Alternatively, getting TDLs for yourself is pretty neat too, but it depends on what kind of ships you enjoy using. They're one of my personal favorites, along with Riot Control Starships and other types that don't do much damage but wreak all kinds of havoc on the enemy's organization and effectiveness.
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Offline Worblehat

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2017, 02:52:23 AM »
TDLs do look neat, and were a bit of a nuisance when I needed to take out one of those anti-starship guard posts (in an ion cannon system, naturally). Probably made a difference between that taking one raid and two. On the other hand, are they worth 30-50 HaP when I've only explored <30% of the map and have a superterminal next door? I'm sure I'll see the answer to that more clearly once it's far too late. :P

So, the AI gets shadow frigates too, eh? Not surprising, but that was painful... Apparently ion cannons don't count as unique structures to the Chivalric AI, so I should have just blown it up rather than going to so much trouble to capture it. The AI's frigates cut through my force fields *much* faster than my champion cuts through theirs, so it's not clear that defense outside the homeworld is even possible. :o And I'm glad they didn't hit the homeworld (yet!) - it's got better defenses and more ships, but it's not completely clear that would be enough.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2017, 06:05:55 AM »
Apparently ion cannons don't count as unique structures to the Chivalric AI
If it's armed, it's fair game.

Quote
The AI's frigates cut through my force fields *much* faster than my champion cuts through theirs, so it's not clear that defense outside the homeworld is even possible.
If you stack enough forcefields up covering the same space it will hold them for a while. But any major defense of yours has to have an absurd concentration of firepower if it's going to hold off a determined attack.
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Offline Worblehat

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2017, 03:24:44 AM »
After a fair bit of progress, I have a few more questions.  :)

Would it be fair to say that nebula expeditions should only be attempted when they're in or near friendly territory? I finally worked my champion over to a second nebula, well behind AI lines, and found the Shattered Pillar vs. Citadel Ascendant. Doesn't look doable in one visit, so it seems like I'd need a friendly system adjacent to rebuild shields and hull periodically. Or is that a particularly tough nebula, and others might be doable while 3-4 jumps from friendly territory?

There was a system that showed a yellow "0(1)" on the galaxy map while it was unexplored. Since exploring it, my scout in the system shows as "1(1)". Does that mean anything? No other system showed either. Is that some weird side effect of the Advanced Starship Constructor being there?

I should also mention that I'm finding the Cowardly AI *extremely* amusing. The first time they sent a wave and I saw them immediately turn around and jump away cracked me up.  :D Seems like smart play for them too, no point throwing ships away when the defenses are more than adequate.

Offline WolfWhiteFire

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2017, 12:44:12 PM »
Most of the nebulae the friendly faction will have bases that will heal your ships hull and maybe shields, I don't really remember, but one thing you may want them for is for a stronger champion, or for more ships without more AIP. Many of those will build a starbase in the nebula under your control that you can make a few new types of starships in (and they can leave, just can't return) so that is one reason to try to go for ones closest to you first (or neuter the ones in between the nebula and your planets).

Also once you start one, finish it, even if you aren't there it will continue and you might return to see you failed. Personally I prefer the alternate option to give you all this stuff as your technology progresses rather than through nebula though, nebulae just take so much time focusing solely on them and you can come across one that your champion is far too weak to beat, but the champion can become a beast later on, so definitely worth doing. I have also found that my champion can generally survive going through enemy systems, so I wouldn't let that keep you from going for nebulae and their many boons.


I should also mention that I'm finding the Cowardly AI *extremely* amusing. The first time they sent a wave and I saw them immediately turn around and jump away cracked me up.   Seems like smart play for them too, no point throwing ships away when the defenses are more than adequate.
Clearly they are trying mental warfare tactics on you, constantly starting to attack then faking you out and leaving to wear you down with constant threats of attack.

Offline Worblehat

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2017, 02:20:27 AM »
Thanks! You're right, I've been able to build Gray Spire ships from almost the beginning of the game, but never noticed...

And the initial tooltips of the recent second nebula misled me. It looked like it was a battle between two groups of static large frigates of some kind, but really those were starbases that were spawning frigates to attack each other. Mousing over in the first second or two, they were on top of each other and the tooltip only showed the frigates... The large starbase was indeed able to do the repairs so the nebula was pretty straightforward to complete once I understood what was going on.

Also, wow, destroyer hulls! Very nice! Except that the AI probably gets them too, and they'll easily be able to pop any system one visits. I guess the Zenith Modular Fortress unlock was partly to balance that, if I can afford to build it.

Offline z99-_

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2017, 07:57:12 AM »
Actually, the AI only sends greater quantities of frigates, it never upgrades.

Regarding Scout Starships, my understanding is they've become somewhat obsolete. The original strategy I read about them was that they were more for supporting offensive fleets, since they provide counter-sniper coverage and have tachyon beams to uncover cloaked units and mines. However, the Cloaker Starship was then added, which provides many of the same benefits, plus cloaking. Ignoring cloaking, I think the Scout Starship does provide more protection to nearby ships (for instance, I don't think the Cloaker Starship has tachyon beams), but when you get massive fleetballs it becomes hard to really notice a difference - especially since the Scout Starship's coverage area always seems to be significantly lees than the size of a large fleet. If you have a couple of ships that really need protection from the stuff Scout Starships protect against, it could be worth it, but that still requires a lot of micro.

That being said, if you've got a bunch of knowledge to burn, the Mark IV Scout Starship (available when the Mark III is unlocked and you have an advanced starship constructer I think) is immune to tachyon beams (as is the MK IV Scout fleetship), which could make it useful for certain situations as well, like spying on AI homeworlds.

Bottom line, most of the benefits of Scout Starships are also provided in other ships (ships that you'll probably be unlocking anyway). But, if you need a ship with all the benefits of the Scout Starship, all in one package, there it is.

Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2017, 09:25:19 AM »
I tend to buy scout ships mark 2 since they are very cheap, and then after using them to explore I just leave them around the AI planets so I can track the threat fleet.

Offline Worblehat

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2017, 04:43:49 AM »
I was wondering if the much greater cloak boosting of Scout Starships was the key to something, but it seems like that just lets you send your scout drones one jump farther, at the likely cost of the starship. Doesn't seem like a great deal. Anyway, it seems like having the champion blow up every tachyon guard post on the map is an effective means of allowing further exploration.

Seems like enabling the Dark Spire may have been a mistake. Mostly it's fun watching them make trouble on AI planets as the champion comes through, but occasionally one visits one of my worlds (how, I'm not entirely sure) and pops the command station in a few seconds despite the force field. Is there a good way to protect against those plasma attacks that deal damage to everything under a force field?

Nebula 3 seems to be too tough to handle currently - Neinzul Mourners, and their starbase does *not* repair the champion. And is pretty fragile.

The other new problem to figure out is whether I can actually clear the CSG-E on the Dyson Sphere planet. The DS cranks out those gatlings so fast I don't have time to clear the barracks before the AI command station, but if I do the command station first the barracks ships kill my command station. Either way, the CSG survives. Maybe I should roll back to the autosave and carefully avoid touching that planet until I know where all the CSG-Es are and see if there's another one I'd want to take? The Dyson Sphere is definitely trickier to handle than I expected.

So far I've scouted one ARS - Lightning Starship/Neinzul Railpod/Raptor. Is one of those notably better than the rest? At first glance my reaction is simply "yes please, I would like any of those".  :)

Offline z99-_

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2017, 09:24:46 PM »
Unless the Dyson Sphere is deep inside enemy territory far from your worlds, or you set the Dyson Sphere strength really low, or you're going for a really low AIP game, I'd say destroying the Dyson Sphere's command station is almost always a good idea. It's a pretty powerful ally, both offensively and defensively - it's definitely saved me from game over a couple of times. I'm a bit confused as to what your problems are in taking the planet. Are you saying you're ships can't get to the barracks at all, or you're having trouble killing all the ships in the barracks? If it's the latter, I'd suggest just shooting the barracks to make the ships pop out, and let the Dyson Sphere thin their numbers. Also, when you said the AI would destroy your command station, did you mean a random command station near the planet (i.e. can be easily replaced at little cost) or did you mean your home command station (i.e. game over)? I don't remember ever being in a spot where the ships in a single barracks were enough to completely overwhelm my defenses (at least not by themselves).

Also, something rather important that I forgot to mention in my initial post: do you have auto-AIP increase on? That drastically affects how you can win the game. For instance, the nebula missions can only really be played when there's nothing else going on - for me, that means I will play one every couple of hours or so (I play with a lot of exo-causing factions enabled, you'll probably be able to do them quicker). On standard AIP increase settings, I think that would mean an extra 200 AIP? I'd have to change my entire playstyle. No thanks!

The Dark Spire is a prime example of a faction whose effect on the game significantly changes depending on your intended path to victory. In low AIP games, a Dark Spire world is such a strategic penalty that you'll either never try to take one, or a couple might have something really special on them where it becomes worth the added struggle. If you do need to take one, low AIP means you have less planets to look after, which means more time to make sure Dark Spire aren't causing any trouble on those captured worlds. And finally, lower AIP means less ships, which means less Dark Spire randomly spawning in your territory!

Compare this to a high AIP game. You're taking more territory, which means you'll be trying to maintain control of more Dark Spire worlds. As your territory grows, some of those Dark Spire worlds will end up far from the front lines, near what would be otherwise undefended economic planets. Instead, you'll need military command stations on the Dark Spire world AND surrounding planets because the larger ship losses seen in high AIP games means more of the economic-command-station-under-a-forcefield-OHKO Dark Spire ships spawn, which can either immediately attack your stuff or make a beeline for the nearest wormhole.

The aforementioned Dark Spire ships (Hatred class, I think?) are the bane of many players. There is no perfect defense against their attacks - I think I remember hardened forcefields helping (check if the ships have armor piercing), but other than that you can only use turrets and ships with hull type bonuses to try to kill them before they make it to whatever you're trying to protect. In nearly every situation, if you have a planet that Dark Spire end up on, you're going to need a military command station, and significant firepower.

For the nebula mission, are you sure there aren't any Neinzul structures missing since you first entered the nebula? I don't recall any missions where there wasn't somewhere to heal, but I could be mistaken.

Offline Worblehat

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Re: New player questions
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2017, 10:19:25 PM »
Thanks!

Sorry, I wasn't clear about the Dyson system. I'm hoping to clear the CSG-E since that's the only E system so far that I have a reason to kill the AI command station at. But to make the CSG attackable I need to complete my own command station to claim the system. Running up and popping the AI command station is easy; at that point the AI barracks empties. If I try to claim the system, that's a few gatlings and 50-ish AI ships (including beefy models like Powerslavers) beelining to my under-construction command station. If I take out the barracks first, it's under a force field so that takes a while, and there are quite a lot of gatlings on the map when my attempted command station makes them hostile to only me. I think the solution is just brute force, bring a lot more ships, kill the stuff that needs to be killed much faster, and scrap the station and leave ASAP. Hoping no shenanigans will pop up back home that the fixed defenses and remaining ships can't handle.

The nebula has only the one friendly structure, small starbase. Other than that there are the 20 treasure caches that I'm supposed to pop, while defending the base against the regular pirate spawns and the various treasure cache spawns (mix of Dark Spire, bright red Neinzul of some kind, and I forget the third flavor of enemies).

I seem to be leaning towards a low AIP approach. It's hour 5, I have 5 systems and 40 net AIP (soon to be 60 with the Dyson Sphere). Some interesting targets lining up in the middle of the map so 100 isn't too far off. Hopefully scouting will turn up the fourth coprocessor and/or more data centers soon-ish to help knock it back down a bit. I'll definitely take a closer look at the Hatred's stats (it's not on the wiki, apparently) to see if it has armor piercing. And I'll need to unlock tier 2 force fields of one or both flavors soon, since I've almost used up both tier 1 caps already.

Auto-AIP is a big nope for me, I'll never turn that on! I hate time pressure in strategy games. :)