Specific Zuul Questions

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Specific Zuul Questions

Postby Shatner » Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:29 pm

Hello everyone. I am an intermediate player who really enjoys this game and absolutely loves the breadth and depth of the lore surrounding it, so let me start by thanking Mecron, Erinys and company for an amazing product.

Anyway, I have always enjoyed playing as the Zuul but, whether successful or not, I always felt a little clumsy in my usage of them. I have read through many, many threads, TARs and wiki pages to gather what info I could on optimizing my Zuulishness but there are still a few details, big and small, that I have yet to get a clear understand of. I understand these are a lot of questions and some of them might seem kind of basic but I really do feel like I need to re-evaluate my handling of even the basic game play elements to really play the Zuul well. A big thanks in advance to everyone who stops by and helps out.


1) Fission Era Exploration Fleet Composition
Under normal circumstances I create a fleet of one Rip Bore plus one Tanker and send them on their merry way until destroyed by an angry defense fleet or some random menace (like the Swarm or a Morrigi Tholos/Wreckage thingy). However, some people seem to prefer sending their Bore-fleets with a compliment of DD armor and a colonizer or three.

Which do you, oh fonts of Zuul wisdom, prefer?


2) Early Weapon of Choice
Lasers have been my small weapon of choice always and for all races: they're cheap to research (24,000 RP to UV lasers), fast and accurate. However, ballistic weapons seem to be more the Zuul's style, being dirt cheap to stick on your ships many, many turrets and they inhabit one of the few reliable branches of the Zuul tech-tree. However, it costs 40,000 RP to get AP rounds and until you do you're stuck filling those small turret mounts with Gauss Cannons; a weapon I hold in contempt of being way to short-range and inaccurate to be of real use.

Which is your preferred weapon of early Zuulish violence? Have I misjudged the usefulness of the early Ballistic tree?


3) Overharvest and Slave Working Strategies
First off, I recall reading several times that "Zuul are better at overharvesting than other races." I have never found that claim clarified into something concrete like "because they get a bigger IO boost per resource consumed than other races" or "because they can overharvest more resources than other races". Is there an actual mechanical difference or is it simply that the Zuul play-style more readily lends itself to overharvesting?

Secondly, when and by how much should a Zuul player overharvest his planets. In my first few Zuul games I never overharvested unless I was having to slap together an emergency defense force. In a recent game, just to try it out, I set every planet to maximum overharvest all the time. I ended up doing fairly well that game but it still seemed like a clumsy way of handling what I assume is actually a fairly nuanced technique. So, when colonizing how much/when should I overharvest? When a world is sitting on my front, how much/when should I overharvest? When a world is sitting in my interior, well away from the action, how much/when should I overharvest?

Finally, whenever I have slaves I always crank them up to 200% work rate because the death rate at 200% is less than twice the death rate at 100%. Since the slaves are going to die eventually, it seems like I get more of a boost-per-slave wiping them until my hands bleed. Is that right or am I missing something?


4) Early Research Priorities
For every other race, I rush to one staple weapon (emitters, UV lasers, missile techs, etc.) to power my early expansion/defense and then devote all my research to my economy (Waldo Units + Cybernetic Interface + Expert Systems + Gene Modification + Suspended Animation). Then I start to flesh out my CCC techs, secondary weapons (torpedoes, drones, etc.) and staple cruiser techs. With the Zuul's poor research rate, every early tech decision needs to be justified, especially since you're likely embroiled in one or more wars at this time. How do you balance weapon techs, command techs and "economy" techs?

Also, everyone talks about how Mining/Strip Mining and Zuul go together like Liir and energy weapons but I find it hard to judge when I should gun for that tech instead of getting something else like, say, fusion or some third-tier weapon tech. Any thoughts?

Furthermore, how do you like to balance research vs ship production? I tend to go 100% research until I desperately need ships, then switch to 0% while I spend like mad. Often I will take a few turns "off" in between techs so I can produce some newly redesigned ships to better eat the galaxy one planet at a time. However, I have heard of people rushing to the 50% point on some research and then throttling back on their science, waiting for the tech to be finished "early". This way they can churn out ships or save money while waiting for some interrogator to rip the answer from someone's mind. Does that work out better than my "famine or flood" approach?


5) What do the Xenotechs do for the Zuul?
Can you capture more slaves with it? Do the slaves survive longer? Is the increased chance of salvaging tech worth the opportunity cost of not instead researching something else? I have always found that branch to be a mystifying one for the Zuul and yet I have encountered posts and TARs which have used them.


Once again, thanks to everyone who read this far and an even bigger thanks to everyone who posts a reply. If I get anything particularly salient (and I hope I do) I will see about updating the wiki so others can benefit from your insight.
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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby Mecron » Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:34 pm

Welcome to posting Bill :wink: and thanks for the kind words...and I predict you will be getting tons of help! :thumbsup:
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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby ZedF » Fri Sep 10, 2010 12:38 am

I wouldn't say Zuul is necessarily my best race, though I appreciate their gameplay style and feel pretty confident of my ability to play them pretty well. So take this as from an experienced Zuul player but not a Zuul specialist.

Your questions in order:
1) Fission Era Exploration Fleet Composition
I think it probably depends on several factors, including how much I/O you have at the start of the game (mostly determined by how many planets you start with), how big a budget you have (influenced by planets, econ settings, and starting cash), and initial map conditions such as map shape and star count per player.

I can certainly see the appeal of starting out with nothing but bores and tankers if you have a lot of routes you want to get moving on quickly, e.g. if you are in a race for the center of a sizeable galaxy. On the other hand, if you start in more cramped quarters, you may be able to get a warfleet enroute to do a reconaissance in force of an enemy colony or two and put a big dent in their military position before they are prepared to counter.

Personally, I tend to like to send a handful of colonizers with my bore+tanker fleets, so I can immediately grab any nice world I come across and so my bore+tanker can refuel as needed.

2) Early Weapon of Choice
I see three main initial tech paths for Zuul weapons research, plus a few curve balls.

1) Lasers. Conventional choice for good reasons, a versatile weapon with lots of DPS potential so long as you don't get stymied by highly reflective enemies. You don't need assault shuttles to be a significant threat to planets, and that's always a plus.

2) Emitters. Plus side is nobody can really stop you from getting close to lay waste in the DD era, and they work well as ersatz PD past the DD era. Downside is now you really need shuttles to bombard planets in the DD era, which is a relatively expensive proposition for the Zuul compared to the lasers approach. Also, Zuul don't get emitters often.

3) Mass drivers. So long as enemies don't have better than polysilicate armour these are still pretty effective, and they are dirt cheap. AP drivers are a nice bonus when you can afford them, but you don't need them right away. However, you will probably want to rush to cruisers if you want to take this path, so if you can't afford a cruiser rush you may have some trouble.

Curve balls include sniper cannons, missiles and DF racks prior to Fusion Warheads, and energy weapons other than those mentioned above.

3) Overharvest and Slave Working Strategies
"because they get a bigger IO boost per resource consumed than other races"

Yes, IIRC it's 4x as much.
"because they can overharvest more resources than other races".

Yes, because new colonies start with 10 overharvest by default whereas other races have to rely on pop growth to power overharvest potential. Zuul having the best pop growth rate helps here too.

Secondly, when and by how much should a Zuul player overharvest his planets.

Some people like to overharvest everything all the time, but I find this doesn't help as much as you might think. You do get more cash income from overharvesting everything, but what's more important than how much cash income you have is how effectively you are using that income to further grow your income, which for the Zuul generally means colonization and/or conquest. For Zuul, I tend to find that if on any given turn most of my income is going to tech, it's not a good time to be overharvesting. Conversely, if most of my production is going to build up my savings so I can afford to build a new attack fleet (and have a job in mind for that fleet to do) then it's a good time to be overharvesting. Similarly, if I have a lot of cash on hand and want to crank out a fleet at a particular world, overharvesting that world to get the fleet out sooner tends to be a good call.

Finally, whenever I have slaves I always crank them up to 200% work rate because the death rate at 200% is less than twice the death rate at 100%. Since the slaves are going to die eventually, it seems like I get more of a boost-per-slave wiping them until my hands bleed. Is that right or am I missing something?

I think this depends on how much xenotech and biotech you've managed to acquire, but I don't have a ton of experience in this area since my games are usually well on the way to being over before I get around to researching much xenotech. My slavetaking tends to be of the form where I grab whatever slaves I can as I conquer the planet, drop them off, and move on to conquer a new planet; most often the slaves I take don't really have a material effect on my economy as a result of my lack of focus in that area and greater focus on simply eliminating rivals.

4) Early Research Priorities
How do you balance weapon techs, command techs and "economy" techs?

Zuul don't really have much in the way of economy techs. I would certainly still go for waldos, gene mod, suspended animation, cyber interfaces, and expert systems as you can get them, because these boost your colony development as well as ship production, which are as critical for Zuul as everyone else. And of course CnC is still vital as well. But where everyone else might be tempted to go for trade or occasionally fusion as next steps, Zuul almost always want to start with cruisers and build fleets with which to smack their rivals around. Exactly what order you do all this in depends on your initial weapon choice and on the map. If you go for lasers early on a smaller map, you might even decide to do something like Waldos -> UV Lasers -> Battle Computers -> Rush. This is a good way to really cripple a rival's expansion effort on a smaller map where you know you'll be in contact almost right out of the gate.

Also, everyone talks about how Mining/Strip Mining and Zuul go together like Liir and energy weapons but I find it hard to judge when I should gun for that tech instead of getting something else like, say, fusion or some third-tier weapon tech. Any thoughts?

I generally find that Data Synergy, Biomes (if I have them) and Salvage Tech are the three critical techs to pick up right after Cruiser Construction. For Zuul, I find that Asteroid Mining is pretty natural right after or soon after Salvage Tech, depending on how hot my economy is rolling. I generally get it before fusion, and how actively I prioritize it relative to weapons techs like HCL or AP drivers depends on how actively I am fighting at the moment.

However, I have heard of people rushing to the 50% point on some research and then throttling back on their science, waiting for the tech to be finished "early". This way they can churn out ships or save money while waiting for some interrogator to rip the answer from someone's mind.
This is generally my preferred method as long as my economy is still in the pre-trade-glut phase (which lasts forever with Zuul since they don't get trade and have horrible cash-RP conversion ratios.) I find that, especially with Zuul, tech tends to be less important than having several active fleets stirring up trouble and overwhelming firepower at the point of conflict, and these tend to require a fair number of ships. :)

5) What do the Xenotechs do for the Zuul?
Can you capture more slaves with it?

I think if you land colonizers on an enemy world with civilians, you will get to keep more slaves with better Xenotech. It doesn't help capture more slaves with slaver ships, though.
Do the slaves survive longer?

Yes.
Is the increased chance of salvaging tech worth the opportunity cost of not instead researching something else?

Depends on how aggressively you are playing and how urgently you need those other techs. I tend to play very aggressively so don't often have time to get more than the basics.

One other thing to note about xenotech is it will let you salvage more special projects (this works for everyone, but is especially relevant for Zuul.)
Zed's TARs (sample):
Fractious Allies -- Hiver vs. Hiver, with allies
Who Let The Bugs Out -- Hiver vs. Tarka and Zuul
Tarka Ascendant -- Tarka vs. Hiver and Zuul

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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby RobAK801 » Fri Sep 10, 2010 12:43 am

DAMN NINJAS! :wink:

1- I go with bore+tanker until I encounter other empires then I start escorting

2- I go lasers for the range and accuracy

3- Overharvest is great for Zuul, go all out at first colonization or defence fleet building emergencies, but back off once the colony is up. I run my slaves in the same manner

4- Depends on the game, if you have some breathing room go Cruisers-salvage-mining tech. This lets you go for the CR CNC to field larger fleets of DEs, also lets you build R&S CR which is essential for salvaging tech. The resource bonus for mining is a % of current level so the earlier the better due to overharvest. If you are pressed by an enemy then go for better weapons first then the CR-Sal-Mine route.

5- Xeno tech helps reduce slave death rates and increases salvage chances for the given race. Also the high end techs allow you to demand surrenders.

hope this helps.
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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby ZedF » Fri Sep 10, 2010 12:57 am

I ninja'd you with a wall of text?

Uh, go me? :innocent:
Zed's TARs (sample):
Fractious Allies -- Hiver vs. Hiver, with allies
Who Let The Bugs Out -- Hiver vs. Tarka and Zuul
Tarka Ascendant -- Tarka vs. Hiver and Zuul

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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby Profound_Darkness » Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:58 am

Something of note for 1.8.0 - Jammers work well. I find a Jammer escorting the bore and fuel supply (no more without a command ship) is great for finding the enemy world I want to kill. I still like having some escorts for dealing with earlier scout fleets. Jammers are more for when things are a bit more established (notably for me the CR/Fusion era with CR bores). btw: I tend to stick to tankers for the minimal bore/scout group - bore, tanker, jammer.

If you show up at an enemy colony you can wait out the clock and run away with Jammers without taking any hits. Not so much if you meet at an uninhabited world but then a small escort group will probably be enough.

One thing I did now and then is having Jammer/Deep Scan ships escorting the bore... I would wait out the clock/resolve peacefully (from manual) and then bore another line deeper into their territory. The deepscan showed me where the enemy's other planets were. I could then hit hard one planet after another - often no warning from the attack fleet and so their defenses would sometimes be elsewhere.
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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby Shatner » Fri Sep 10, 2010 12:53 pm

Thanks Zedf for the very informative wall-o-text answers to my wall-o-text questions.


Profound_Darkness wrote:Something of note for 1.8.0 - Jammers work well. I find a Jammer escorting the bore and fuel supply (no more without a command ship) is great for finding the enemy world I want to kill. I still like having some escorts for dealing with earlier scout fleets. Jammers are more for when things are a bit more established (notably for me the CR/Fusion era with CR bores). btw: I tend to stick to tankers for the minimal bore/scout group - bore, tanker, jammer.

If you show up at an enemy colony you can wait out the clock and run away with Jammers without taking any hits. Not so much if you meet at an uninhabited world but then a small escort group will probably be enough.


I know that in tactical combat the Jammer provides a sensor fog around itself but does that actually prevent planetary missiles from being pelted at you, like hiding in the sensor shadow in an asteroid field? If so, that's good to know and I can see that being a big help keeping your fleet from getting vaporized everytime they bore a node line to a planet full of angries.

To further clarify, if that jammer-induced sensor shadow does block incoming missile fire, does it work only when you are "out of sight" of other ships or is your fleet missile-proof until they stray too far from the jammer (or the jammer gets blown up)?
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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby ZedF » Fri Sep 10, 2010 5:08 pm

Jammer shadows are less potent than asteroid shadows. Jammers will prevent missile lock from being acquired without a visual, but will not break already-acquired locks. They will stop planet missiles from launching, but only until the enemy gets a visual; after that you'll need an asteroid to cancel their lock.
Zed's TARs (sample):
Fractious Allies -- Hiver vs. Hiver, with allies
Who Let The Bugs Out -- Hiver vs. Tarka and Zuul
Tarka Ascendant -- Tarka vs. Hiver and Zuul

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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby Shatner » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:28 pm

Thanks for the Jammer info, folks. I'm surprised to see people suggesting Heavy Combat Lasers for the Zuul because the Zuul Battle Bridge section the worst of all the species (only 1 beam and no large mounts), the blazer section is nothing outstanding and the Zuul have a 50% chance of HCL being a research dead-end. Is the HCL encouraged for it's Alpha-Strike potential?


Also, when coasting by on research (rush to 50% progress then reduce research and wait for the tech to finish "early"), is there any sort of strategy about how much/little research to put into it to get the best chance of an economically priced discovery? Do the different races have better/worse chances of early discovery and, if so, how do the Zuul rate among them?


Finally, I have always used slaves as ZedF describes them (Pick 'em up while invading a planet and put 'em back down while claiming the planet), meaning that at best I get ten or so scavengers worth from whittling down an enemy's Home World over the course of a long siege. Is it actually viable to invest more in the slave economy, raiding for slaves heavily, investing in Xeno tech so they survive longer and all the while hoping to salvage tech? I would love to hear that that's an option but as is, it seems like more of a side item; the Zuul have an alternative to the assault shuttle which also gives them some short-term, post-invasion spoils.
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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby Mecron » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:34 pm

Like in real life, against a well defended enemy, slave raiding is problematical...on the other hand, deep slave strikes against lightly defended backfield worlds is a very viable way to pumpup your own border worlds with "invitation workers" :twisted:
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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby Shatner » Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:12 pm

Mecron wrote:Like in real life, against a well defended enemy, slave raiding is problematical...on the other hand, deep slave strikes against lightly defended backfield worlds is a very viable way to pumpup your own border worlds with "invitation workers" :twisted:


Mecron, in all the many threads I've read you communicate a very grounded and comprehensive understanding of the race/weapon/strategy in question; an understanding that makes sense given you develop, balance and play the game. And given your depth and breadth of experience, how do you like to play the Zuul? Are there any novel approaches you've come across that hasn't become common knowledge on the boards here? Are there any sweet spots regarding techs/ships/weapons that you have found and balanced for which we have overlooked?

I'd understand if you prefer not to weigh in so definitively on topics like this, but now that I think about it, I don't recall anyone asking you directly; which is weird since you're a pretty clear source for information.
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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby ZedF » Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:21 pm

Shatner wrote:Is the HCL encouraged for it's Alpha-Strike potential?
HCL is a pretty specialized choice for Zuul as a weapon to actually field, but it's good to pick up at some point regardless because you might have lancers and if not you want to be able to salvage them. When it comes to building my early cruiser fleets I tend to pick hammerhead, strafe, or assault more frequently than battlebridge with Zuul.

Also, when coasting by on research (rush to 50% progress then reduce research and wait for the tech to finish "early"), is there any sort of strategy about how much/little research to put into it to get the best chance of an economically priced discovery? Do the different races have better/worse chances of early discovery and, if so, how do the Zuul rate among them?
Zuul do seem to have a bit better odds of getting an early breakthrough but this is purely anecdotal and if so it's not by a great amount; it may just because Zuul find themselves coasting on minimal research more than most other races due to lack of trade. I generally like to coast at ~25% research budget or so as I don't want to be waiting forever in case I never get fortunate enough for a breakthrough; however I may go lower or higher depending on how much I need that tech/funds.


<snip stuff about slave-based economy>

I personally haven't tried it but I have heard some ppl reporting that it works fairly well once you get the xenotech up enough to really minimize the death rate. I'd tend to guess this must be in big games where you have big empires and big economies, such that tech is easy to get.
Zed's TARs (sample):
Fractious Allies -- Hiver vs. Hiver, with allies
Who Let The Bugs Out -- Hiver vs. Tarka and Zuul
Tarka Ascendant -- Tarka vs. Hiver and Zuul

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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby Shatner » Mon Sep 13, 2010 3:27 pm

First off, I am playing a new Zuul game (Disk galaxy, 4 average AI opponents, 75 stars) and doing very well. The advice is really helping. Also, I happened to get Biome Colonizers and one of those plus Mega-Strip Mining = instant colony; it's very impressive.


Anyway, two more questions:
1) When you end a battle with one or more captured enemy ships (via boarding), do you get some sort of bonus to your salvage tech attempt? At the very least, do they count towards the "wreckage" your R&S ships attempt to salvage from?


2) I notice that the Morrigi xenotechs "[give] a 25% bonus to researching other Xenotech Technology". Are those bonuses cumulative (so researching "Translate Female Dialect" gets you a 50% research bonus towards other xenotechs)? Am I correct in assuming you only get the bonus towards researching non-Morrigi xenotech?
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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby ZedF » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:28 pm

1) Yes, there reportedly is a bonus to salvage chances based on capturing (though we don't have a specific number on that IIRC.)

2) I don't think the exact details have been spelled out beyond having more Morrigi language tech = good for Xenotech research in general.
Zed's TARs (sample):
Fractious Allies -- Hiver vs. Hiver, with allies
Who Let The Bugs Out -- Hiver vs. Tarka and Zuul
Tarka Ascendant -- Tarka vs. Hiver and Zuul

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Re: Specific Zuul Questions

Postby Mecron » Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:46 pm

Shatner, actually its groovy to ask and I usually don't mind answering unless someone is asking for exact formula and numbers...and the great thing about sots is that we have tried very hard to make a game where even my answers are not the only "right" ones :thumbsup:

Breezing through this topic the 2 things that come to mind are 1) the HCL thing is less about the alpha and more about the fact Zuul have turreted heavy beams and hence they can make HCL's much more effective while manouvering than the other races...and 2) the most devestating Zuul tactic I have seen so far is the Zuul steamroller...consisting of heavy strike ships, slave disks and a scattering of biomes. Arrive in system, kill defenders launch slave disks, strip planet of pop, colonize with one biome, dump slaves, refuel, rinse, repeat. 2 or 3 large fleets functioning like this become a blitzkreig the likes of which Guderian could only dream of :twisted:
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