The Winning Strategy

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Steve
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The Winning Strategy

#1 Post by Steve » Thu May 10, 2012 11:30 pm

Hmmm. I'd be interested to know if this post conveys anything not already well-known to all the dev's and other avid players. I'm guessing "no, nothing new to us," but here it is anyhow, fwiw...

So, my impression is that "the winning strategy" (in this version [SVN 4635]) is vast swarms of small, fast-to-build-and-deploy ships. Because of the "initiative" system, a large number of small ships will tend to be superior to a few better ships. I presume this will be addressed later, as part of a "balancing" process?

Keep attack/defense research up, so weapons & shields are at least roughly on-par with what the AI-players have; don't neglect planetary defenses, either! Re-design a new version swarmship at least every other generation of mil-tech; build/deploy in a continuous stream. I've also built a few "capital ships," but have only found one use for them so far (see below).

Are there currently any other (reliable) "winning" strategies?

:arrow: :?: One flaw in the current design (note that I don't regard the above as "design flaws" -- just an intentionally-unaddressed-for-now imbalance) appears to be the Ground Combat component. I dunno, maybe this too can/will be addressed in a "balancing" stage, but... The build-up of Defending Troops can make well-fortified planets VERY tough nuts to crack; there doesn't appear to be ANYTHING to do but build huge fleets of troop-carriers, and sufficient escorts to get them to the planets. Such a coordinated assault takes up to several HUNDRED turns to assemble (e.g. multiple targets in a system, each with 80 troops); but, properly-assembled, it ALWAYS takes a system in 2-3 turns.

I've currently got a game going where the three remaining AI's have apparently settled to almost-purely-defensive strategies. I have a huge fleet sitting 2-3 starlanes from each of 2 homeworlds.

:arrow: With one of the AI's, my fleet is sitting in a system with 2 of the AI's occupied planets; that AI is sending a steady trickle of single ships against my armada, about every other turn. Almost always, the lone AI ship is destroyed doing no damage to me; occasionally, I loose 1 to 4 ships from my swarm; but over the long term my total is just going higher and higher. If I enter the next system in (so I'm adjacent to the homeworld), the "trickle" turns into at least 4 ships per assault-wave, every turn.

:arrow: With the other AI, my fleet is occupying a system that I conquered, so the AI "owns" no planets in that system or "beyond" it. This AI isn't even sending a trickle against me. It's been about 300 turns since anything happened on that front...

:arrow: One other AI is still in-play; they have no homeworld left, and seem to be doing a lot of nothing; tech is developing, though: a few hundred turns ago, their 2 systems started insta-destroying any swarmship that stopped in-system; but when one of my "capital ships" (robotic hull, 4 plasma-cannon, deflector shield) stops by, nothing happens. What's THAT about?

I've got a MAJOR new "capital ship" designed, and am waiting on the build-facilities to make one or two of 'em... Aggregate Asteroid hull, Death Rays, yada yada yada...

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Re: The Winning Strategy

#2 Post by Bigjoe5 » Fri May 11, 2012 3:32 am

Steve wrote:Are there currently any other (reliable) "winning" strategies?
The most powerful strategy at the moment IMO is to build a few very very powerful ships (the "capital ships"), then several hundreds of cheap unarmed ships. This way, you still take advantage of the "initiative", but don't lose firepower every time your opponent attacks. And you can build many times more cheap unarmed ships than you could cheap armed ships. This is a design flaw, and things will be totally different when tactical combat is implemented.

However, this depends on what kind of opponent you're fighting. The AI will never build ships beyond a certain level, so having a ship with attack power greater than their best ship's max structure is useless. When there are space monsters about, more firepower on the capital ships is pretty much always better.
Steve wrote: :arrow: :?: One flaw in the current design (note that I don't regard the above as "design flaws" -- just an intentionally-unaddressed-for-now imbalance) appears to be the Ground Combat component. I dunno, maybe this too can/will be addressed in a "balancing" stage, but... The build-up of Defending Troops can make well-fortified planets VERY tough nuts to crack; there doesn't appear to be ANYTHING to do but build huge fleets of troop-carriers, and sufficient escorts to get them to the planets. Such a coordinated assault takes up to several HUNDRED turns to assemble (e.g. multiple targets in a system, each with 80 troops); but, properly-assembled, it ALWAYS takes a system in 2-3 turns.
I don't think getting a few troop ships to a planet should be that big of a deal. Did you design your own Troop Ships that can hold more than 5 troops each?
Steve wrote:I've currently got a game going where the three remaining AI's have apparently settled to almost-purely-defensive strategies. I have a huge fleet sitting 2-3 starlanes from each of 2 homeworlds.

:arrow: With one of the AI's, my fleet is sitting in a system with 2 of the AI's occupied planets; that AI is sending a steady trickle of single ships against my armada, about every other turn. Almost always, the lone AI ship is destroyed doing no damage to me; occasionally, I loose 1 to 4 ships from my swarm; but over the long term my total is just going higher and higher. If I enter the next system in (so I'm adjacent to the homeworld), the "trickle" turns into at least 4 ships per assault-wave, every turn.

:arrow: With the other AI, my fleet is occupying a system that I conquered, so the AI "owns" no planets in that system or "beyond" it. This AI isn't even sending a trickle against me. It's been about 300 turns since anything happened on that front...
Yep, no real AI opponents to speak of yet.
Steve wrote: :arrow: One other AI is still in-play; they have no homeworld left, and seem to be doing a lot of nothing; tech is developing, though: a few hundred turns ago, their 2 systems started insta-destroying any swarmship that stopped in-system; but when one of my "capital ships" (robotic hull, 4 plasma-cannon, deflector shield) stops by, nothing happens. What's THAT about?
What do you mean by "nothing happens"? If two ships from different empires are in the same system, and at least one of them is armed, there will be a battle.
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Re: The Winning Strategy

#3 Post by Steve » Fri May 11, 2012 4:41 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:
Steve wrote:Are there currently any other (reliable) "winning" strategies?
The most powerful strategy at the moment IMO is to build a few very very powerful ships (the "capital ships"), then several hundreds of cheap unarmed ships. This way, you still take advantage of the "initiative", but don't lose firepower every time your opponent attacks. And you can build many times more cheap unarmed ships than you could cheap armed ships. This is a design flaw, and things will be totally different when tactical combat is implemented.

However, this depends on what kind of opponent you're fighting. The AI will never build ships beyond a certain level, so having a ship with attack power greater than their best ship's max structure is useless.

Really... you can "win initiative" (or whatever the FO term is) with unarmed ships???!? I had understood that the system worked as follows:
  • If the pool of "ships that have not yet fired this turn" is non-zero:
    Randomly select an insystem ship that has not yet fired.
    If it can fire, have it shoot at a random enemy ship.
    Remove that ship from the "ships that have not yet fired this turn" pool.
    Rinse, lather, repeat.
I believe this is functionally equivalent to the weaponless ships not counting (that is, the pool of ships that can fire being limited to... well... ships that can fire(i.e. armed ships)); when a weaponless ship "wins" initiative, nothing happens and the next (randomly chosen) ship gets to fire. The armed ships will get their turns in statistically the same manner as if the unarmed ships weren't present...

The only real advantage (I thought) to a swarm of unarmed ships is that they provide cheap cover: they're randomly-selectable targets, so your combat ships stand a decent chance of never being targeted... Mind you, that IS a real advantage (if they're cheap enough, it might even be a decisive advantage).

Have I misunderstood something?

Bigjoe5 wrote:When there are space monsters about, more firepower on the capital ships is pretty much always better.
At present, I'm leaving the Space Monsters turned off. I *do* hope to see some awesome artwork for them, eventually... :D
And I can certainly see how "capital ships" are the way to go, with Galactic Godzilla rampaging around... :shock: :shock: :cry:
Bigjoe5 wrote:
Steve wrote: One flaw in the current design (note that I don't regard the above as "design flaws" -- just an intentionally-unaddressed-for-now imbalance) appears to be the Ground Combat component. I dunno, maybe this too can/will be addressed in a "balancing" stage, but... The build-up of Defending Troops can make well-fortified planets VERY tough nuts to crack; there doesn't appear to be ANYTHING to do but build huge fleets of troop-carriers, and sufficient escorts to get them to the planets. Such a coordinated assault takes up to several HUNDRED turns to assemble (e.g. multiple targets in a system, each with 80 troops); but, properly-assembled, it ALWAYS takes a system in 2-3 turns.
I don't think getting a few troop ships to a planet should be that big of a deal. Did you design your own Troop Ships that can hold more than 5 troops each?
Hmmm. No, I haven't built large-scale troop-carriers. I'll try that...
However, it's NOT a big deal to get the ships there. It's the l-o-n-g wait to build enough ships to carry enough troops to reduce a distant target (so far as I can tell, "assault troops" are an infinitely-availability commodity... does launching a troopship reduce on-planet troops at all?) . I presume that large-capacity troopships are a more time-efficient way to go? This could improve the situation...

That's the phase this game is now in... the AI's aren't leveraging their vast homeworld fleets; it's just a wait for my empire to build enough troopships to reduce the last few occupied colonties, then the homeworlds.

One of the AI's is pissing their fleet away against my armada of 1-shield+1-weapon swarmships. Most turns, now, they are launching 4 combat ships (I've taken position 1 starlane from their homeworld) plus sometimes some (useless, in this situation) troopships; occasionally, they take out a few of my swarmships, but the steady stream of reinforcements means that the net trend is always toward my fleet getting bigger and bigger (and at 4/turn, their combat-fleet getting smaller and smaller). The AI's strategy will eventually render it helpless against my coming invasion; already, their homeworld fleet has a substantive portion of scout & colony ships, when it used to be mostly combat ships.

The other AI is sitting and (I presume) building; I'll either have to accept the huge losses in assaulting their homeworld, or stage up another "provocative" situation (a huge fleet just one starlane from their homeworld), so they wet themselves and start pissing away, too...

But really, it's just a matter of waiting until I can amass the fleets of assault-troops; with enough troops to take the targets, the rest of it is now more or less automatic...[/quote]
Bigjoe5 wrote:Yep, no real AI opponents to speak of yet.
Steve wrote: :arrow: One other AI is still in-play; they have no homeworld left, and seem to be doing a lot of nothing; tech is developing, though: a few hundred turns ago, their 2 systems started insta-destroying any swarmship that stopped in-system; but when one of my "capital ships" (robotic hull, 4 plasma-cannon, deflector shield) stops by, nothing happens. What's THAT about?
What do you mean by "nothing happens"? If two ships from different empires are in the same system, and at least one of them is armed, there will be a battle.
Their two systems are sitting there (disconnected from one another), apparently not building ANY ships. For a long time, I kept a few ships insystem to keep planetary shields beaten down, and destroy anything they built as they built it. I pulled them for a few turns now and again, but eventually abandoned the post for a long time when one of the AI's had a threatening position I had to respond to with all-available-forces. When I could get back to those systems, my little swarmships just died as they arrived; when I dropped in a capital ship... nothing seemed to happen to it.

Their tech seems to be advancing (I assume my swarmships died from some system/planetary defense tech). I suppose they COULD be building some super-ultra-dreadnought (given the needed shipyard upgrades & their lack of resources/economy, that WOULD take a long time!), but you tell me the AI's don't build past a certain level of ship (the "Mark 'R'" class, where "R" is a Roman numeral I-VIII; right?).

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Re: The Winning Strategy

#4 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sat May 12, 2012 2:50 am

Steve wrote:Really... you can "win initiative" (or whatever the FO term is) with unarmed ships???!? I had understood that the system worked as follows:
  • If the pool of "ships that have not yet fired this turn" is non-zero:
    Randomly select an insystem ship that has not yet fired.
    If it can fire, have it shoot at a random enemy ship.
    Remove that ship from the "ships that have not yet fired this turn" pool.
    Rinse, lather, repeat.
I believe this is functionally equivalent to the weaponless ships not counting (that is, the pool of ships that can fire being limited to... well... ships that can fire(i.e. armed ships)); when a weaponless ship "wins" initiative, nothing happens and the next (randomly chosen) ship gets to fire. The armed ships will get their turns in statistically the same manner as if the unarmed ships weren't present...

The only real advantage (I thought) to a swarm of unarmed ships is that they provide cheap cover: they're randomly-selectable targets, so your combat ships stand a decent chance of never being targeted... Mind you, that IS a real advantage (if they're cheap enough, it might even be a decisive advantage).

Have I misunderstood something?
Nope, I misspoke a bit. The real benefit is as you said - they provide cheap cover. And they are cheap enough. And it does provide a decisive advantage.

Steve wrote:Hmmm. No, I haven't built large-scale troop-carriers. I'll try that...
However, it's NOT a big deal to get the ships there. It's the l-o-n-g wait to build enough ships to carry enough troops to reduce a distant target (so far as I can tell, "assault troops" are an infinitely-availability commodity... does launching a troopship reduce on-planet troops at all?) . I presume that large-capacity troopships are a more time-efficient way to go? This could improve the situation...

That's the phase this game is now in... the AI's aren't leveraging their vast homeworld fleets; it's just a wait for my empire to build enough troopships to reduce the last few occupied colonties, then the homeworlds.
Are you building more than one ship at a time? If you have enough PP you should be able to build as many ships as you want in the time it takes to build just 1, since production that can't be used on one item automatically transfers to the next item in the queue.
Steve wrote:Their two systems are sitting there (disconnected from one another), apparently not building ANY ships. For a long time, I kept a few ships insystem to keep planetary shields beaten down, and destroy anything they built as they built it. I pulled them for a few turns now and again, but eventually abandoned the post for a long time when one of the AI's had a threatening position I had to respond to with all-available-forces. When I could get back to those systems, my little swarmships just died as they arrived; when I dropped in a capital ship... nothing seemed to happen to it.
OK. Your weaker ships were probably being destroyed by planetary defense before they could do anything useful, whereas your capital ship would have destroyed their planetary defense in one shot. Did you at least get a sitrep "A battle occured at Wherever."?
Steve wrote:Their tech seems to be advancing (I assume my swarmships died from some system/planetary defense tech). I suppose they COULD be building some super-ultra-dreadnought (given the needed shipyard upgrades & their lack of resources/economy, that WOULD take a long time!), but you tell me the AI's don't build past a certain level of ship (the "Mark 'R'" class, where "R" is a Roman numeral I-VIII; right?).
Right. Specifically, VIII. In other words, they build only predefined ship designs.
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Re: The Winning Strategy

#5 Post by Steve » Sat May 12, 2012 4:17 am

Bigjoe5 wrote:
Steve wrote: ... Have I misunderstood something?
Nope, I misspoke a bit. The real benefit is as you said - they provide cheap cover. And they are cheap enough. And it does provide a decisive advantage.
Ahh. OK, then. I think we're in agreement about "best strategy" (modulo my playing without monsters for now).

Bigjoe5 wrote:
Steve wrote:Hmmm. No, I haven't built large-scale troop-carriers. I'll try that.
...
the AI's aren't leveraging their vast homeworld fleets; it's just a wait for my empire to build enough troopships to reduce the last few occupied colonties, then the homeworlds.
Are you building more than one ship at a time? If you have enough PP you should be able to build as many ships as you want in the time it takes to build just 1, since production that can't be used on one item automatically transfers to the next item in the queue.
Yeah, I'm building multiples. But as I've just been using the default 5troop carriers, I've needed 17 ships at a time, to capture 80-troop planets (a few more, in cases where there's risk of attrition).
Bigjoe5 wrote:OK. Your weaker ships were probably being destroyed by planetary defense before they could do anything useful, whereas your capital ship would have destroyed their planetary defense in one shot. Did you at least get a sitrep "A battle occured at Wherever."?
Yeah, I'm getting those sitrep's; I get them whether or not anything "evident" happens (i.e. when a ship takes down planetary shields... every round... ). It might be worth coding notices like:
  • "UH-OH! Your ship <Name> was destroyed by <whatever destroyed it>."
    "BATTLE! Your ship <Name> received <N> points of damage from <whatever damaged it>."
    "BATTLE! Your ship <Name> did <N> points of damage to <whatever it damaged>."
    "VICTORY! Your ship <Name> destroyed <whatever it destroyed>."
OTOH, that lack of info helps the whole "fog of war" effect, which may be desired...
Erm. And if that text appeals, feel free to use it (I advance no claim of (c)). I know it's trivial, but some people can be real a$$holes if someone uses something of "theirs" like that... :x


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Re: The Winning Strategy

#6 Post by Zireael » Sat May 12, 2012 7:15 am

Yeah, I'm getting those sitrep's; I get them whether or not anything "evident" happens (i.e. when a ship takes down planetary shields... every round... ). It might be worth coding notices like:

"UH-OH! Your ship <Name> was destroyed by <whatever destroyed it>."
"BATTLE! Your ship <Name> received <N> points of damage from <whatever damaged it>."
"BATTLE! Your ship <Name> did <N> points of damage to <whatever it damaged>."
"VICTORY! Your ship <Name> destroyed <whatever it destroyed>."

OTOH, that lack of info helps the whole "fog of war" effect, which may be desired...
I guess those notices are a good idea. Unless the battle takes place very far away from our planets, out of their sensor range.

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Re: The Winning Strategy

#7 Post by eleazar » Sat May 12, 2012 12:30 pm

Zireael wrote:I guess those notices are a good idea. Unless the battle takes place very far away from our planets, out of their sensor range.
Your ships are there-- therefore it is not out of sensor range.

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Re: The Winning Strategy

#8 Post by Steve » Sat May 12, 2012 7:52 pm

eleazar wrote:
Zireael wrote:I guess those notices are a good idea. Unless the battle takes place very far away from our planets, out of their sensor range.
Your ships are there-- therefore it is not out of sensor range.
I don't know if this is an already-discussed-and-discarded notion, but a tech-tree of "Jamming" (sensor/communication) rather than merely "Stealth" (or a few new tech's rolled-into the Stealth tree) could prevent on-site ships from getting word of their damage/destruction back to your empire, and/or could prevent your remote-sensors from seeing what's happening.

Conceptually, one could say for the moment that these already exist "in the background," and explain the lack of detailed battle-reports.

I guess it depends on whether you WANT the "fog of war" elements of uncertainty, or if you prefer the perfect-knowledge model of play...

FWIW and all that.


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Re: The Winning Strategy

#9 Post by eleazar » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:52 pm

Steve wrote:
eleazar wrote:
Zireael wrote:I guess those notices are a good idea. Unless the battle takes place very far away from our planets, out of their sensor range.
Your ships are there-- therefore it is not out of sensor range.
I don't know if this is an already-discussed-and-discarded notion, but a tech-tree of "Jamming" (sensor/communication) rather than merely "Stealth" (or a few new tech's rolled-into the Stealth tree) could prevent on-site ships from getting word of their damage/destruction back to your empire, and/or could prevent your remote-sensors from seeing what's happening.
That wouldn't make much sense after direct control of combat is implemented, otherwise, not a bad idea.

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Re: The Winning Strategy

#10 Post by Gen_ » Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:44 am

Steve wrote: I believe this is functionally equivalent to the weaponless ships not counting (that is, the pool of ships that can fire being limited to... well... ships that can fire(i.e. armed ships)); when a weaponless ship "wins" initiative, nothing happens and the next (randomly chosen) ship gets to fire. The armed ships will get their turns in statistically the same manner as if the unarmed ships weren't present...

The only real advantage (I thought) to a swarm of unarmed ships is that they provide cheap cover: they're randomly-selectable targets, so your combat ships stand a decent chance of never being targeted... Mind you, that IS a real advantage (if they're cheap enough, it might even be a decisive advantage).

Have I misunderstood something?
This sounds flawed. Hugely flawed. Real fleets chose primary and secondary targets based on the danger they pose. I know FO is 'real' per se, but combat ships should always be an attack priority once they have given a good enough show of force. If the armed ships get thier turns just as often as if the unarmed ships were not present then the opposing force should be able to traget just the combat ships and attempt to destroy them. This may mean that you need more ships to destroy an unarmed ship being projected by an escort, but it re-balances the notion that having 10 basic hulls and a capital ship means your opponent wastes up to nine turns shooting at pointless decoys, more than enough to get killed.

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Re: The Winning Strategy

#11 Post by em3 » Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:54 am

Gen_ wrote:This sounds flawed. Hugely flawed. Real fleets chose primary and secondary targets based on the danger they pose. I know FO is 'real' per se, but combat ships should always be an attack priority once they have given a good enough show of force. If the armed ships get thier turns just as often as if the unarmed ships were not present then the opposing force should be able to traget just the combat ships and attempt to destroy them. This may mean that you need more ships to destroy an unarmed ship being projected by an escort, but it re-balances the notion that having 10 basic hulls and a capital ship means your opponent wastes up to nine turns shooting at pointless decoys, more than enough to get killed.
The point is that current random combat is a temporary implementation. No one claims its logical and realistic. It is simply better than no combat. Also it will be replaced by more sensible combat at some point in time.
[...] for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane. - Randall Munroe, title text to xkcd #556

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Re: The Winning Strategy

#12 Post by Gen_ » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:50 am

em3 wrote:
Gen_ wrote:This sounds flawed. Hugely flawed. Real fleets chose primary and secondary targets based on the danger they pose. I know FO is 'real' per se, but combat ships should always be an attack priority once they have given a good enough show of force. If the armed ships get thier turns just as often as if the unarmed ships were not present then the opposing force should be able to traget just the combat ships and attempt to destroy them. This may mean that you need more ships to destroy an unarmed ship being projected by an escort, but it re-balances the notion that having 10 basic hulls and a capital ship means your opponent wastes up to nine turns shooting at pointless decoys, more than enough to get killed.
The point is that current random combat is a temporary implementation. No one claims its logical and realistic. It is simply better than no combat. Also it will be replaced by more sensible combat at some point in time.

Ah, I see. Roger that.

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