The Slow Game

Tactics and Action Reports.
Trygvasson
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Re: The Slow Game

Post by Trygvasson » Fri May 02, 2014 11:36 am

Great :) I'll upload the latest save once I'm back home - freeride skiing has priority this weekend :P
Brute force. If it's not working, you're not using enough.

Trygvasson
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:00 pm

Re: The Slow Game

Post by Trygvasson » Mon May 05, 2014 2:53 pm

Here we are - some comments:

current strategy is centered on the fleets CRUISER SQUADRON I and II - I'm hoping most of the Hiver fleet is busy defending a gate, while another squadron is attacking down a pre-established node line. Problem is, even if I manage to defeat those hivers, my expansion rate is too slow against the mature, tech-heavy races occupying the rest of the galaxy. At least that's my impression. Have I given up too soon?
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Brute force. If it's not working, you're not using enough.

ZedF
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Re: The Slow Game

Post by ZedF » Wed May 07, 2014 2:54 am

I would say so. You're currently focused heavily on tech, which makes sense while sprinting to 50% on a critical weapons upgrade (AP drivers), but you're just about at the point where you have everything you really need tech-wise, and tech becomes more about incremental improvements. You actually have quite a small fleet for the size of your empire. I would say you want to finish AP drivers and grab disruptor torps, which will unlock assault sections for your front line & CnC (ships that focus on durability) while your back line ships stick with strafe for punch from a distance. Once you have those techs, all you really need to do is triple or quadruple the number of fleets you have, along the lines of your two main cruiser squadrons, and start going to town along multiple salients at the same time, i.e. using timed simultaneous assaults down pre-bored nodelines. The Hivers won't likely be able to defend against all of them at once.

Once you have some serious attack fleets going you can begin the long road to fusion and rend bores, which should hopefully open things up even more for you. Alternatively you could also grab jammers for decoy assaults, but with Zuul it's harder to use those effectively because you have to bore the nodelines anyway. Asteroid Mining & Mega-Stripmining would be helpful too, but not strictly necessary, though if you are lucky you will get links to armour that way.

As far as the enemy tech levels go... I have not seen anything super-impressive based on the combat history and diplo page. Lots of missiles, yes. AM warheads is about the best thing they have going for them, but you have PD to counter that, and can get deflectors and jammers if that's not enough. Your ships are poorly armoured, but you are using boarding pods, so that shouldn't be an insurmountable concern, though obviously you want better armour if you can get it.
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

Strategy & Tactics Forum Archive -- More posts on strategy, tactics, and TARs

ZedF
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Re: The Slow Game

Post by ZedF » Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:15 pm

A couple more random observations from my latest 50/50 game...
  • Salvage technology from other races? What's that? Researching salvage projects in a normal speed game is already pretty slow to start with because of the cap on how much you can invest per turn. In my current game, my first salvage pick has only one possible tech it could be, Environmental Tailoring. I've been working on it for almost 70 turns, with no end in sight; the game will likely end before it can complete.
  • Megafreighters? What are those, Morrigi-only toys? These cost so much money and are hit so hard by the cruiser maintenance cost relative to the profit they generate that for anyone else, in most cases you might as well not bother. Generally you need to fill up on regular freighters first to get their share of the profits ASAP; you can't afford to leave routes idle for a long time while slowly accruing capital with which to build megafreighters. Moreover, building megafreighters on new routes gets you profits much more slowly on 50/50 settings than building DD freighters does, so waiting to build megafreighters makes even less sense from a ROI point of view. And even after you've filled your routes with DD freighters, the payoff horizon for replacing a DD freighter with a CA freighter is even worse; in fact on 50/50 you are better off just saving your money for 1% interest than you are to replace a DD freighter with a megafreighter!
  • Trade stations? Are those more Morrigi toys? These again have a big problem with cost vs. payoff horizon on 50/50 settings. You will need a sizeable empire to be able to afford these in the first place, but the impact of any given trade station at any given world -- even the homeworld -- will be small. At least science stations give their bonus across your entire empire's research economy, so they might be more worthwhile.
So what can you do to boost your economy after DD freighters and Biomes? You need economy boosting techs that don't require up-front investment to reap the benefits. If you have a lot of trade routes with a trade partner, Addict technology is a good bet. Failing that, AI techs are a much better investment than normal (if no less risky), if only because you don't have many other good alternatives. Of course, the pointy stick can always get you more worlds, and more worlds gives you more income and more routes to fill with DD freighters, as well as getting you closer to winning the game.
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

Strategy & Tactics Forum Archive -- More posts on strategy, tactics, and TARs

ZedF
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Re: The Slow Game

Post by ZedF » Thu Oct 22, 2015 1:01 pm

So I have been playing around with some other settings and have found something possibly even more intense than 50/50 from a challenge point of view. Here's what I said before about 50/50:

ZedF wrote:50/50 settings in and of themselves don't add to the difficulty of the game, but they do act as a multiplier of sorts on any other difficulty factors that you introduce into your game. They make it take longer and require more investment to dig your way out of an economic hole, but the basic costs of doing business (exploration, minimal defense) remain unchanged, so you tend to have less discretionary funds available for investing. Moreover, there tend to be more obstacles in place to prevent non-stop economic development, both because you have a lower absolute income with which to invest, and because the gateway techs you need to enable certain kinds of investment are relatively harder to acquire. These key butter techs tend to be delayed not just because they cost more in absolute terms but because rivals with a head start will keep that head start longer and will still come calling; I often found myself needing to prioritize military tech development earlier than I typically would.


All of this is still true, but just as I followed this up with an observation that you need a relatively large amount of expansion room to have enough investment opportunities available to be able to dig out of a hole on 50/50 settings, I've also found you need a lot of time for those investments to pay off and compound. One way you can constrain yourself on time is to turn up the tech rate, and play something like 50/150. I think that these settings (when playing against a Hard AI with extra starting colonies) might well maximize the advantage the AI gets from the Hard AI bonus and any extra starting goodies you give it.

The reasoning here is simply that the AI likes to spend a large proportion of its income on tech. Now on 50/50, tech is generally a bad investment that takes an exceedingly long time to pay off, so you want to minimize the amount of tech investment you make, focusing only on the essentials, and instead invest toward building your economy. (This is true generally for most economic settings, but even moreso on 50/50.) The 50% malus on economy hurts the player a lot more than the Hard AI, because the AI does not have to pay ship maintenance and because the AI has other economic bonuses to help compensate, whereas the player has to spend so much on the basic essentials of economic expansion and maintenance and defense that there is really very little left over for much else. However, the 50% malus on tech actually helps the player in some ways, by slowing everything down and giving the player more time for economic investments to mature and compound. Naturally this is providing you can meet the bare minimums you need for defense like adequate CnC, but on 50/50 those bare minimums change relatively slowly.

In contrast, on 50/150, the tech pace is relatively brisk. It still feels somewhat on the slow side as a live player because you still have to spend the vast majority of your income on the basics of expansion, maintenance, and defense, with little left over for tech. But what little you can afford to spend on tech stretches further. In fact if you can get a moderately useful tech that does not require shipbuilding to implement, on 50/150 this can sometimes be a better investment than a more powerful tech that requires a lot of ship construction to realize the benefit. Normally I would not research Atmospheric Adaptation before FTL Commerce, but on 50/150 this can be a strong move, because you can acquire AA fast enough and early enough to pay off relatively quickly, whereas you need to sink a lot of money into freighters in order to get any benefit from the FTL Commerce research.

Moreover, the Hard AI, being less harshly penalized by the 50% economy malus, and being naturally disposed to spend a lot on tech, can really take advantage of the 150% tech rate far more effectively than the player can. On 50/150, a Hard AI with a sizeable starting empire can parlay that into dreadnoughts and/or antimatter starting around turn 100, whereas a live player without such advantages might still be stuck in the fission/cruiser era trying to grow their economy at that point in the game. The disparity in tech can force the player to constantly have to adapt to the AI's advancing tech levels, and keep making additional investments in defense, at the expense of growth and tech; at some point, the qualitative difference might become too large and too costly in terms of ship construction to overcome.

Now part of the appeal of 50/50 is the sense of the epic, and of ships having greater longevity because tech does not advance quickly relative to their ability to move around the map. 50/150 does give up some (but not all) of that feeling. It places the focus less on limiting the research of tech, but on limiting the ability to implement said technology via ship construction, because ships are still relatively expensive. What I think it gains in exchange is that it complicates the decision making of when to invest in tech and when not to. On 50/50, you can generally assume that if a tech is not obviously necessary, you don't want to spend money on it. But on 50/150 there is a lot more tension between the need to spend money on ships and maintenance to grow economy, and the need to spend money on tech that's of good value or required to keep up with the neighbors. Tech comes more quickly, but you need to prioritize more carefully and think farther in advance as a result.
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

Strategy & Tactics Forum Archive -- More posts on strategy, tactics, and TARs

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