Arcen Games

Games => AI War Classic => Topic started by: Worblehat on July 02, 2017, 07:24:40 PM

Title: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat 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.  :)
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: keith.lamothe 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 :)
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: z99-_ 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.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat 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...
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: keith.lamothe 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.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat 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.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: keith.lamothe 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.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat 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.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: WolfWhiteFire 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.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat 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.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: z99-_ 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.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: BadgerBadger 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.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat 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".  :)
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: z99-_ 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.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat 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. :)
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: keith.lamothe on July 14, 2017, 09:59:08 AM
FYI, making the dyson hostile doesn't turn its existing friendly-to-you gatlings into hostile ones.

I'd suggest this procedure:

1) At your earliest convenience, kill the AI command station on the planet.
2) If you can't clean up the barracks and whatnot unleashed by that, just pull back until it gets dashed by your defenses or otherwise disperses (if it stays put, you can whittle it down, but I imagine the Dyson could do that for you).
3) Once the AI's ships are gone, position some overwhelming strength in range of the CSG, and bring a pile of engineers and a colony ship.
4) Build your command station, and use the engineers to make it happen fast.
5) Use the overwhelming strength to kill the CSG quickly.
6) Scrap your command station.

The result should be a liberated dyson, a dead CSG, and a very small number of hostile-to-you gatlings :)
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: WolfWhiteFire on July 14, 2017, 11:00:02 AM
Building then immediately scrapping your command station is also a great way to claim any special structures that may be on the dyson sphere's planet, in your current game or future ones. You build it, then they are under your control and stay under your control after you scrap it.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat on July 14, 2017, 10:54:53 PM
FYI, making the dyson hostile doesn't turn its existing friendly-to-you gatlings into hostile ones.

Ah, that is very good to know, and not what I thought was happening! I thought there was just one type of gatling, and their target options varied based on the presence/absence and allegiance of any command station in the system. So there are effectively three types of gatlings, omnicidal, anti-human, and anti-AI, if I'm understanding you correctly?
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: BadgerBadger on July 15, 2017, 12:21:29 AM
That has been my experience at least.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat on July 21, 2017, 02:31:15 AM
One more question (so far): what is the value of Lightning Starships? I'm finding them underwhelming. They seem to lightly sandpaper AI fleet ships in large numbers - except missile frigates because they're immune to area damage. This seems mildly useful in big fleetball vs. fleetball engagements and not particularly helpful in set piece wave defenses (not that the turrets need the help lately) or supporting the champion or small detachments on clear-out-the-threat-fleet excursions. The knowledge cost to get mk2 and mk3 versions is substantially higher than other starships so I expected they'd be more useful. Is there something I'm missing here?

Looks like I'm well into the middlegame at this point - map is basically fully explored (I know exactly which systems are the homeworlds, but haven't sent a scout in to either, or to one of the core worlds). Two nebulae are off of core worlds, so I guess I won't be doing those! And the fourth coprocessor is also on a core world - hopefully a fast hit and run to take it out won't have the core and home worlds Alerted long enough to cause too much of a problem.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat on July 28, 2017, 01:11:49 AM
Looking through some past threads, I see I'm not the only one to doubt the value of Lightning starships (particularly their knowledge cost for higher marks). The Neinzul Combat Carriers are working out very nicely though, so I'm 1-for-2 on ARS unlocks so far.

Question about Warp Jammer command stations - the wiki says "Adjacent planets can still go alert from other factors, such as a large enough human military presence." Any guidance on what "large enough" means? I'm somewhat tempted by the third of the remaining ARS (and CSG-A) planets, which is adjacent to a Core world. At one extreme, the wiki could mean that I can try taking it, put the Warp Jammer in, and leave it otherwise empty and hope no enemy ships come through by normal travel. Or it could mean "don't leave your entire fleet there", and it could be defended with planet-caps of turrets to fend off any visitors.

Since the time delay between starting such an operation and seeing how it actually works out would be quite long, I'm hoping I can get some insight here first...  :) I'm also working off the premise that an Alerted Core world is Very Bad and should be avoided until the Homeworld assault begins.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: WolfWhiteFire on July 28, 2017, 10:35:56 AM
I believe with Warp Jammers the number of turrets is inconsequential, they won't trigger an alert. I may be remembering inaccurately though.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat on August 04, 2017, 03:34:34 AM
Looks like Warp Jammers offer blanket immunity from alerts - I've had the vast majority of my fleet parked there and everything was fine. Unexpected, but a happy surprise! :)

So, homeworlds...  :o Wow, they're nasty in the real game (the tutorial was much much weaker). And although a Hive Golem can insta-neuter a core world, it's useless against the homeworld. Which is on the wiki, now that I reread it.

The first HW on the agenda has a Wrath Lance, Raid Eye, and assorted other goodies including the standard warhead interceptor and OMD. The WI is practically on top of the entrance wormhole, but so are five AI shadow frigates so it's well shielded. Apparently "Nuclear Explosions" immunity applies to any kind of warhead. Setting off an armored mk1 and armored mk3 at the wormhole cleared the fort and the force field covering the command station, but did nothing to the WI or the shadow frigates. The WL is about halfway across the map, and the OMD is near the WL and under a FF.

I'd hoped my teleport raiders might be able to do something to the WL, but apparently they entered the system as the WL beams swept over the wormhole, since they died instantaneously and weren't able to port anywhere.

At this point I'm at a loss as to how to crack this system. If it weren't for the shadow frigates I think I could take it - clear the WI, get a warhead close enough to take out the FF covering the OMD. Not sure about the WL. Is there any better way than zerging with teleporting units? How would one deal with a WL in a distant part of the system without teleporting units? I figure the Raid Eye is best dealt with by a sabotage hack, but that requires being able to survive for 60 seconds...
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Kalieum on August 04, 2017, 06:34:16 PM
From when I was still trying to understand Neinzul Rocketry Corps silos, I think more than 20 fleet ships or 1 starship was sufficient to set adjacent AI systems on alert.
On that note, while this is a newbie question thread, how *do* they work? I already asked this some months back, but I think my several paragraphs of rambling probably warded off any replies, so the short version of the confusion I have with them: Their description makes them sound like Dire Guardian Lairs but with warheads instead of big scary ships, but I was able to set an NRC silo system on alert without ever seeing a missile launch even after the half an hour the game setting mentions, and after eventually triggering a missile launch by moving my fleet right up next to the silo I later received a second warhead even though I'd since pulled back and the system had been off alert for most of the intervening time. I ended up abandoning that game as there were multiple CSG-As under overlapping coverage of several silos, and I couldn't figure out what was and wasn't okay when interacting with them/their systems.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat on August 05, 2017, 02:27:04 AM
According to the wiki, the rocketry silos are not affected by Warp Jammers. I can attest that against normal AI systems, you can pile an enormous fleet (2 golems, cruiser champion, a pile of starships and over a thousand fleetships) and the neighboring AI systems won't care.

I haven't enabled rocketry silos yet so I can't answer your question, sorry.

Still very confused by warheads in homeworlds, though. Looks like "Nuclear Explosions" immunity *isn't* immunity to all warheads, so that's good. On the other hand the damage is not as advertised. I just set off an Armored mk1, with the champion acting as scout coverage that doesn't die instantly so that I could see exactly what happened. The highest hp target in range was the Core AI Force Field Generator, 2,640,000. Mk1 Armored does 5 million, so surely that should kill the force field and take a chunk out of the next thing (in fact it should kill the next thing too, the fort mk3 at 1.8mil). What actually happened was the FF being reduced to 279,999 hp.  ??? I don't understand why the warhead did less than half the advertised damage.

That means that the mk3 that I also set off on my initial attempt last night spent a nominal 25 million damage to kill the last 10% of the FF, the fort, and four shadow frigates. Which is 280k+1,800k+4*150k = 2.68 million, a bit over 10% of the advertised damage output.  ??? ???

Hard to plan a difficult assault like this if my weapons don't do what they say they do...  :(
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat on August 08, 2017, 07:46:20 PM
Game 1 completed!

My plan for Game 2 is to do the Fallen Spire victory condition. The main question I'm trying to decide is how much to crank up the difficulty. 7/7 random Easy turned out to be pretty easy once I got into the game, with the obvious exception of the first homeworld assault. So I'm thinking 8/8 random Moderate. Or would increasing both the numerical difficulty and the AI type difficulty at one be over-ambitious?

Other parameters - probably concentric map, nomad planets, spire civilian leaders, spirecraft (moderate), some sort of spire starting bonus ship. I'll have to look over the other starting options I haven't tried yet and see what I want to turn on. No golems since I did golems (moderate) in game 1; like with spirecraft, that's my "let's see what this does" setting. :) Not sure about a champion. I don't think I'll do the nebulae again, so either alternate champ progress or just leaving it off. The free ModForts make leaving it off hard to do though...  :P

Anything crazy here? I'm a bit unsure of the interaction between nomad planets and spire cities, since the latter need to have no hostile wormholes to upgrade to level 2. Presumably an AI-controlled nomad wandering by might delay such an upgrade for a bit, but it shouldn't downgrade an existing level 2 city. Though with the amount of !!fun!! in this game, who knows. :P

----

In case future new folks come by with similar problems with the difficulty spike of a homeworld assault (particularly Wrath Lance), my solution was a combination of lots of cheese and "if a little brute force is good, too much must be better".

Assault Transports can shoot, and are neither starships (OMD) nor fleetships (ion cannons, Teuthida). And they're really fast, which helps both with charging the Bad Thing you're trying to get rid of, and for delaying when the WL beams catch up to you. That was the cheese, obviously. Armored Warheads were the brute force - *just* got one within range of the WL before the beams caught it.

HW1 wiped most of the fleet, for a reprisal 4 and two cycles of the Raid Eye. But at 7/7 that was literally a "Pfft, whatever, don't care" situation, turrets plus the few ships that weren't involved in the HW assault were plenty to make them go away.

HW2 went pretty well. Ceremonial nuke to start things off, transports rushed the OMD, one unloaded a full cap of mk5 neinzul railpods, and their double-salvo took out the Warhead Interceptor. The transports and champion (BB hull!) managed to kill the Teuthida before the warhead got there, so the warheads were just a bonus to make things go faster rather than a decisive factor. The mk5 Zenith Reserve on a core world did a great job wiping the strategic reserve.

I could see HW2 being possible without transport cheese (though without the railpods, maybe not...). No idea how to do HW1 without cheesing the hell out of it though. I've seen people not use Assault Transports because they're so oddly powerful, but I don't know how they do it. Very impressive! :) I wish I could get by without them.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: keith.lamothe on August 09, 2017, 07:27:17 AM
Congratulations :)

Yea, between warheads and transports and whatever bonus ship types are available (some are particularly helpful in a tight spot; railpods are a definite favorite of mine) and other tools of destruction there's generally a way to make it happen. Though the Wrath Lance is borderline, in certain combinations.

On the FS game and the difficulty, it depends on how you see a hard-fought-yet-lost game. Given your resourcefulness here I'd suggest 9/9 with each AI at either random moderate or a specific harder type you choose as interesting but not too brutal. Some of the "red-hard" types could be too much of a curveball combined with the difficulty increase.

Another question is the map type and how many planets you're likely to have to defend. Crosshatch, for instance, would be pretty rough for your first FS game.

Have fun storming the castle :)
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Toranth on August 09, 2017, 05:35:56 PM
The one big thing to remember in jumping difficulty is not only that AI response increases, but at Diff 8 AIP reducers are less effective, and at Diff 9 they get another reduction in effectiveness.  So, not only does AIP produce a larger response, it's harder to keep it low.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat on August 11, 2017, 01:18:21 AM
Heh, I'm no Peter Ebbesen, though I was a big fan of his back in the glory days of EU2 on the Paradox forums! 8/8 seems like a better plan. :)

Difficult start so far. Actually several starts, I tried several things out. Outer rim was bad, hemmed in by a coprocessor on one side and a mk4 world on the other, and nowhere near the links to the next inner ring. Tried a core start, but the AI choices were One Way Doormaster and Peacemaker, so I noped right out of that game. :o Doable, but slogging through a black hole machine or a couple OMDs with ion cannon support on *every single system* sounds like the opposite of fun...

Third start seems decent, with one glaring problem. AIs are Experimentalist and Thief. The former sounds really interesting, I guess it's the Captain Hammer approach to AI War, "They say it's better the second time, you get to do the weird stuff. // We do the weird stuff!" Thief could be unpleasant, but in a way that's still !!fun!!. The one big problem is that one of the Thief's starting ships is the Zenith Bombard, which pretty much negates my Spire Stealth Battleships and seriously limits my champion (I decided the modforts were too tasty to pass up, so I kept champion enabled...). And the Thief controls most worlds near my starting position, especially the mk3/4 ones two hops out. Need to find the design backup and make the bombards go away! :P (Also, I know what my bonus ship in game 3 will be). So kind of a slow start, which worries me a bit with the Civilian Leaders out there.

Question about stealth at the strategic level - if later in the game I had a fleet of stealth battleships and raptors (another Thief ship, backup is on Nomad 1, which is hilariously overdefended for what I'm capable of doing so far), would the threatfleet recognize that they're on one of my frontier systems, or would the cloaks potentially let me sucker the threatfleet into an attack it shouldn't have made? I know the AI notices when the player has a pile of cloaked stuff on an AI system, not sure if they can also notice cloaks existing on human systems.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat on August 11, 2017, 05:11:28 AM
Or not... Nomad 4 had a Raid Engine. No way to take it out (well, warheads, probably, but I hadn't even built a silo and couldn't have afforded much anyway), and constant mk4 raids eventually picked consecutive mk4 plasma siege starships. Dead home command station. Ouch!

*Really* unimpressed with Spire Stealth Battleships. They accomplished basically nothing, other than being constantly rebuilt. Sort of like mk1 raid starships that way - not my favorites.

Is a Raid Engine on a Nomad system just terrible luck, or is that common enough that one should plan for having to deal with one within the first 30 minutes? That's the first one I've ever seen, though I had read about them in some AARs.

Back to the drawing board. Not sure whether to retry this Spire themed FS concept with Nomads (or ditch the Nomads?), or give Zenith or Neinzul theme games a try first.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: keith.lamothe on August 11, 2017, 06:47:10 AM
Heh, I'm no Peter Ebbesen, though I was a big fan of his back in the glory days of EU2 on the Paradox forums! 8/8 seems like a better plan. :)
Fair enough. And yea, I have many fond memories of reading The Conqueror.

Quote
Tried a core start, but the AI choices were One Way Doormaster and Peacemaker, so I noped right out of that game. :o Doable, but slogging through a black hole machine or a couple OMDs with ion cannon support on *every single system* sounds like the opposite of fun...
The BHM's wouldn't have been much of a problem once you got far enough in FS, because you wouldn't really mind the extra AIP much.

The OMDs also wouldn't have been too terribly bad, but since you'd be bringing huge targets everywhere they would have gotten annoying.

Just saying that it could have picked a lot worse :)

Quote
Third start seems decent, with one glaring problem. AIs are Experimentalist and Thief.
Those are pretty mild. The experimentalist's unique ships are all honestly kind of weak nowadays, though there might be a few exceptions.

The thief can certainly be annoying, but again once you get into FS I don't think your fleet engagements are going to involve the opportunity for the AI to steal much. It's more of a "fleets mutually annihilate each other until there's only one side left" thing.

The thief starting with the Bombard is a problem, yes, but that's not inherent to the thief.


Nomads with raid engines are a thing, yes, though not intentionally chosen. For your first FS game I suggest leaving nomads and (to a lesser extent) civilian leaders off.

On cloaked ships: the AI knows which planet they are on, but it can't shoot at them until they are revealed.


Sorry to hear the SSBs disappointed. They used to be pretty powerful in AI hands but nerfs ensued :)

If you're looking for a unit that takes some learning to properly use but can really help with the early/mid game (before things get to the point where whole caps of ships disappear in the opening seconds of a battle), I suggest the Neinzul Firefly.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat on August 14, 2017, 03:04:37 AM
Do Data Centers count as player-controlled in some obscure way? I don't understand why the AI triggered a reprisal 1 wave after I killed one. And this was at the start of a session, in which I hadn't lost anything yet. To the extent that it might have been waiting, carrying over from my previous session, I don't think I'd done anything other than wave defense on my own worlds for a while...

I'm starting to rethink this whole 8+ idea. Looks like wave size, frequency, and trigger threshold for reprisal waves scales *very* sensitively with difficulty level. AIP 75 at Diff-8 gives waves that were larger than AIP 160 at Diff-7 (right before the second homeworld assault), and much more frequently as well. And pretty much any loss larger than a scout seems to trigger a reprisal. So difficulty 8 has been "wave defense: the game" for the most part, which isn't very interesting. Not difficult yet, but if I'm constantly defending or cleaning out the threat fleet (aka wave remnants that retreated), I'm not actually accomplishing anything. Is this why the mysterious 7.3 and 7.6 difficulty settings exist, to help fine tune a middle ground in the wave size and frequency scaling?

My other headache looks to be an issue of getting very lucky with the map in game 1. I've been surprised by the wall of mk3/4 worlds at range 2 from the homeworld, but after a bunch of test starts with lower fog of war settings, that actually seems pretty normal at 7 or 8. Another argument for keeping the champion enabled, I guess - my latest attempt was without one, and trying to get anywhere against that wall with mk2 Raid Starships and/or Zenith Bombards was very slow and often expensive. This could be why I was so unimpressed with the SSBs, since there was no alternative but to send the five mk1s against a mk3 world. Though giving them a decent multiplier against Medium would definitely have helped too, at least let them knock down tachyon posts quickly and easily. :)

I saw the Neinzul Firefly as an ARS option in the Nomad game. Looks interesting, I'll keep an eye out for it when I try a Neinzul themed game. Presumably with the mixed wave option on so that they're not negated by missile frigate waves.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Toranth on August 14, 2017, 06:19:06 PM
I'm starting to rethink this whole 8+ idea. Looks like wave size, frequency, and trigger threshold for reprisal waves scales *very* sensitively with difficulty level. AIP 75 at Diff-8 gives waves that were larger than AIP 160 at Diff-7 (right before the second homeworld assault), and much more frequently as well. And pretty much any loss larger than a scout seems to trigger a reprisal. So difficulty 8 has been "wave defense: the game" for the most part, which isn't very interesting. Not difficult yet, but if I'm constantly defending or cleaning out the threat fleet (aka wave remnants that retreated), I'm not actually accomplishing anything. Is this why the mysterious 7.3 and 7.6 difficulty settings exist, to help fine tune a middle ground in the wave size and frequency scaling?
If I remember my math correctly, Diff 8 is about 50% more everything than Diff 7, Diff 9 if 50% above Diff 8, and Diff 10 is 50% above Diff 9.

You may have seen it already, but if you're having trouble defending against waves, may I recommend looking at Kahuna's excellent Guide (https://forums.arcengames.com/ai-war-classic-strategy-discussion/kahuna's-guide-to-ai-war-find-your-inner-super-cat!/)?  The section on Defense gives a lot of very useful tips on organizing your planet's turrets, mines, etc, more maximum efficiency.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: Worblehat on August 14, 2017, 11:26:22 PM
Yep, I've been setting up Kahuna-style defenses since Game 1. :) Great stuff!

The attempt I'm not sure about continuing suffers from rather poorly placed wormholes. The home station is in the middle of the system, surrounded by five wormholes (at this point two hostile) at fairly modest range. One of the other two exposed systems still has two hostile wormholes at about 90d angles from each other, with one pretty close to the station. Eventually I planned on taking that system but haven't gotten to it yet, partly from the treadmill of "I've just cleaned up after the last waves, oh look new waves" and partly from "wow waves are already big, do I *really* want 20 more AIP for a nothingburger system right now?"

Ah, digging around in the wiki clarifies the wave sizes. I think the game 1 AIs both had wave multipliers of 1.00 (technically "? ? ?" - Chivalric and Cowardly), while the Game 3b AIs are Experimentalist and Spireling with 1.25 multipliers. Plus an extra multiplier based on difficulty. That explains what I'm seeing. So 7.3-7.6 would have the same final multiplier of 2.5, but would be back to scaling as AIP rather than as AIP^1.1.

Not sure about the timing though. The wiki says "the fewer the number of planets that can be hit with a wave the more the AI will tend to pick longer times between waves". But Game 3b has three exposed planets out of four, and very frequent waves, while Game 1 in the end had seven exposed planets out of eleven, and the waves had longer delays between them.
Title: Re: New player questions
Post by: BadgerBadger on August 14, 2017, 11:55:48 PM
My advice, as a cynical player who likes only to win, is to shuttle through game seeds till you find one with an extremely defensible home system to start with ;-)