My evoloving understanding of combat in SotS...

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Day
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My evoloving understanding of combat in SotS...

Post by Day » Mon Jul 31, 2006 4:12 am

This title wasn't meant to be pretentious. It's still evolving. I just wanted to share how I got from utterly confused to where I am now, which is a point where I feel like I am understanding, at least, and learning from defeats. If you are feeling like you don't know what you're doing, or like you have very little impact on the course of a battle, then this rant may help you. Or, well, I hope it does.

For the record... I'm not very good at these games. I never won a game of MoO3. I never played many other SciFi 4X games. I'm only decent at RTSes, so I was prepared to, as the kids say these days, suxx0r at tactical combat.

Before I go much further, let me say this: Get a CnC ship. Combat is possible without one, but man is it harder. When I first got around to CnC, I didn't really get it. I left it in the center of my formations and put other ships around it. I ordered my back field... I thought I was doing okay. And, like, every combat, my CnC ship got killed. I didn't get it. I neglected to realize that the value of a CnC ship has absolutely nothing to do with guns that are mounted on it. So I developed what I think of as my first breakthrough in strategy: Make a formation with your CnC in the back and everything else up front. Then, make your CnC ship a different control group before battle starts (select from the numbers in the top left of the formation screen, then right-click a ship in the diagram to assign it to that group). As battle starts, find the bad guys and direct your CnC to go study some particles in the other direction. Really, really far.

Another thing it took me a bit to figure out was that if you order a stance, you're asking the AI to play for you. So, for instance, if you tell your whole fleet to close-to-attack (top left of tac interface), your CnC ship will fail to run away effectively. So you have to remember, if you want to use a stance (and I like to, most of the time), you need to use the right-hand buttons for it and tell a control group or individual ship what stance to have.

My third major breakthrough in thinking the right way about this part of the game has to do with control. I used to have my CnC be control group 2 and everyone else be 1. Then, when battle started, I'd hit 1, "close-to-attack", 2, and order the guy to go play all by himself. That improved my success rates enormously, but it was only half the picture. If you're putting, say, laser-based Armors up front (or another direct-fire weapon) and missle-based Armors in the back... you don't want them to play the same. So--and someone will be reading this and thinking this is obvious--you make two control groups.

The reason this didn't occur to me is that I was thinking of these battles as small scale. As if more than one control group was only for BIG forces. I was used to Dawn of War where ten guys is not a fleet you field, that's, like, a unit of Space Marines... or half a unit for Slugga Boyz (or whatever... I'm rounding). It didn't occur to me that I should be, you know, having my direct-fire guys "close-to-attack" and my missle guys "stand off". I feel dumb now, typing that sentence, but it's true. Maybe parading my density around in public and talking about how I got past it will help keep someone else from being embarassed or spending time not having fun while they could be spanding that time having fun for actual.

I've still got stuff to figure out (like how to use mines well, though I have some ideas I wanna try out), certainly. And I'm not sure that some of the things I'm thinking will be valid through the full game, but I feel like I have enough control over what I'm doing that, well, I can look back and see that learning curve. It wasn't painful, but I feel accomplished. I hope this rant lends some perspective and I also hope that this is a perspective at least similar to the one which KP intended players to have. I'd love to hear similar learning-curve stories from others (I don't want to call it advice, as that seems very slightly pompous to me), but I would absolutely hate to see someone simply complaining about a feature they don't get. I want to hear about features you have figured out so that others may learn from them.


->Day<-

Post Script: For those of you complaining about the camera and not being abel to see bad guys I have some advice. Locate the general area the bogeys are in with sensors. Then, middle-click (or tab to) your fore-most ship so your camera is based on him. Then, zoom in. You're not going to lose perspective of the whole battle. Don't panic (--Douglas Adamas)! Don't zoom in all the way, but zoom in a good deal and watch for the baddies to show up. They'll be much easier to pick out at "groud level" than from way up at bomber altitude. Center-click that guy and it's much easier to handle from there. I didn't have a particular problem with that issue (so I didn't include it above), but I had to help a friend sort this out and he's now havign a much better time with the demo.
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Post by Emperor Zog » Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:15 am

:lol:

It wouldn't be so funny to me if I didn't have the same revelation over my CnC ship. Now I keep at least one backup with a fleet and I hide him behind an asteroid if one is handy to block a few incoming missles.


ZOG EDITS!!! MAKE THEM STOP: Also the same on other points. First the CnC ship thing, then the forming them into smaller fire groups to play to their roles. Of course I am still learning their roles, I had a few bad experiences with torps and plasma cannons due to misconceptions when i first deployed them.
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Post by Scavinger » Mon Jul 31, 2006 2:17 pm

What I'm going to post was in another thread somewhere, but I'll paraphrase it more clearly here, in case someone is interested.

Bio-weapons and Mines : You need to choose the ships and then click on the big square in the middle of the ship outline, up in the right-hand corner. I wasted a couple of fleets before I figured this one out. Hope it helps someone.

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Post by Day » Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:48 pm

Just found something new that was bugging me: In fleet formations, you can set a formation for each fleet. Switch fleets by clicking on the star next to its name on the left. Man. I thought that only one formation could be set per system and so my defense fleets meant I had to remember to adjust offensive fleets' formations while in transit. This hadn't been a problem until my engines got so good I was taking less than a full turn to get where I was attacking.

So... click the star. You'll be happier for it.

On another note, I've figured out a wonderful use for mines. I accidentally hadn't set a formation on my first fleet to include mine-layers. I ended up with all four that I had brought with me in the field and way less of everything else than I wanted. So I told them to mine the heck out of the area while I organized my fleet a bit. By the time I was set up and the enemy had found me, they couldn't get very close at all without being absolutely mobbed. That's more of a tactic than a dawning of understanding, but it's sotra relevant.


->Day<-
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Post by OF-pathfinder » Mon Jul 31, 2006 10:26 pm

Man, this is one of the best threads yet! GJ Day! :thumbsup:

Have same challenges. Had not even occurred to me to set groups for the different class ships or at first to put CnC WAY in the back. :oops:

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Post by Arkalius » Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:28 am

Bio-missile destroyers are just plain scary... I can imagine a player seeing the big glowy warheads and rush to take them out at all costs... and watching the missles slowly approach the planet... ahh nothing like the smell of planetary genocide in the morning.
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Post by Omega_Paladin » Tue Aug 01, 2006 10:19 pm

Yeah, whenever I see one of those missles launch I just grab anyone in the vincity and tell them to attack that. Same with assualt shuttles. Single player is like my tester, I'm just trying out random formations and weapons and combinations. It's going to be hell for me when the actual game comes out because I'm going to have all these options and I'm going to want to try every single possiblity haha.
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Post by Day » Sun Aug 06, 2006 3:43 am

Some developments. I've figures out to use a CnC ship as bait, kind of. If you put two in your opening formation, put one forward and the other back. Tell the rear one to flee, and let the AI take the fore one (to be immediately replaced from the backfield). This gives you a bit more time to get your "real" CnC out of the other guys' sensor range so he won't chanse it down. That won't work so well against some human opponents, but, well... You can't win 'em all.

Another thing I've been playing with is assault shuttles. I played a game vs. the AI with the economic efficiency set to 50%. This kept down the super fleets that tend to crop up near the end game of the Demo. So, to kill a planet, I was finding that a couple of turns to take out most of his defensive fleet (in which I wait for him to come to me, so I can stay out of sattelite range) followed by several more turns with a divided fleet did very, very well.

On the left side, I'd set up a dedicated PD ship with three assault shuttle ships (all turrets laser PD). These guys were nearly impervious to missle attacks because of this. This group is obviously tech dependent, but even with simply lasers or some other high-accuracy weapon, I imagine they'd do alright. On the right, I'd set up a dedicated PD ship, my CnC ship and four close-combat direct-fire ships (no missles). I'd basically tell the right group to "stand-off" until the enemy had closed to brawling distance, then "close-to-attack" for a knife fight. Then, I'd have the left group swing round the other battle to close within the sattelite orbit and launch fighters constantly. This wasn't fool-proof, but it ended up doing really well most of the time.

Another thing I've noticed is that sometimes, if you order a group of ships to move by clicking on the planet its self, it may confuse them (before gravity could be a factor). I think what's going on is that the ship-move code is trying to figure out how to make the ship drive to the center of the planet and sometimes it reasons that the corners of the map are where that's kept. I'm not sure, really, as I've not tested it, but I've found that the best way to avoid that kind of confusion is to not order ships so close to the frickin' planet. Right inside the sattelite ring is plenty close, anyway, for whatever goal.


->Day<-
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Or...

Post by silvaril » Sun Aug 06, 2006 4:21 am

Heya

Day wrote:Another thing I've noticed is that sometimes, if you order a group of ships to move by clicking on the planet its self, it may confuse them (before gravity could be a factor). I think what's going on is that the ship-move code is trying to figure out how to make the ship drive to the center of the planet and sometimes it reasons that the corners of the map are where that's kept. I'm not sure, really, as I've not tested it, but I've found that the best way to avoid that kind of confusion is to not order ships so close to the frickin' planet. Right inside the sattelite ring is plenty close, anyway, for whatever goal.
->Day<-


I usually just target the planet and choose 'Close to Attack'.

After that I keep an eye on them and either assign a different target or choose 'Normal Stance' and 'Stop' once they are in range.

Having to reset move orders tends to either get them skewing everywhere trying to get to the point you wanted, or keeps your attention glued to that part of your fleet...
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Post by PiousFlea » Sun Aug 06, 2006 1:58 pm

Whats great is this:

2 jammers + ton of assault shuttles. one jammer goes one way alone, second jammer covers an enormous fleet of assault shuttles.

See if your opponent can guess which one to kill!
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Post by Zeratul » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:52 am

The other day, the AI sent a group of 10 bio-war ships, a tanker, and a command ship to one of my planets. Needless to say, dead colony. Not to metion between the plasma cannons in the engine mounts, and the emmitters on the hammerhead, he baked a few ships. Thankfully, it wasn't a critical colony, and was soon back on it's feet. Lesson, well, um... I guess just don't expect to get a colony if you try this trick on someone, as most of my defense fleet was still intack.

A little trick I picked is, when using stand-off tatics, if you're designating targets, chose targets that are on the outside of the enemy formation, same side as you're on. That way, when your ships try to open range on the targeted ship, they're opening distance on the entire formation as well, rather than just one ship, which could result in them closing on the rest, or a major part of, the enemy formation.

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Post by Mecron » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:17 am

very good tip, zer! And nice nasty tactic, flea.

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Post by the_ubernoob » Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:04 am

A good trick flea....it sounds so....familiar :lol:
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Post by The Writer2 » Mon Aug 07, 2006 3:52 am

I could have sworn that I mentioned something akin to that somewhere last year. :P I'm far to lazy to dig-up the post though. :roll:

Either way, fienting is a tried and true tactic in all warfare. If you can split the enemy forces in two, or drive all of them in the wrong direction (for them :twisted: ), you can concetrate your forces where the enemy is weak. Sun Tzu would approve. :)
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Post by Carch » Fri Aug 18, 2006 5:37 pm

Day wrote:JIn fleet formations, you can set a formation for each fleet. Switch fleets by clicking on the star next to its name on the left. Man. I thought that only one formation could be set per system and so my defense fleets meant I had to remember to adjust offensive fleets' formations while in transit. This hadn't been a problem until my engines got so good I was taking less than a full turn to get where I was attacking.

So... click the star. You'll be happier for it.


Holy guacamole that's been driving me crazy. THANKS! I'm thinking what the hell.. why did I bother building multiple CnC ships when I can only set a formation for one of them ?!

CnC Formations: Click Directly on the Star
CnC Formations: Click Directly on the Star
CnC Formations: Click Directly on the Star
CnC Formations: Click Directly on the Star
CnC Formations: Click Directly on the Star
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