ZedF wrote:Ok, I am thinking along the lines of a 50/50 game against Difficult AIs but without special rules, to accommodate Trygvasson since he hasn't done one of these before (though I won't be using 10 minute tactical timers.) That said, I am going to aim for a setup that shouldn't be especially challenging, barring bad map luck, so your rivals will start at a slight disadvantage compared to the player race, before considering the 50/50 and Difficult AI settings. In order to facilitate the "not too challenging" aspect I'll be looking at something in the 15-20spp range for map size, which should give the players a fair chance to out-expand their rivals if an aggressive expansion policy is adopted. I'll also take some turns at the start of the game to get folks off on the right foot.
I randomly selected Liir for our race. Game should be up shortly!
The game is a 120 star mini-cluster map, with 6 races, for 20 stars per player. The format is that anyone can play at any time. The initial save file is here.
We have a beautifully central position which will ensure we have a lot of stars to choose from. We also start with 8 bonus techs, where the AIs don't have any bonus techs; everyone starts with a default start, otherwise. As a result, we have a few useful starting techs in particular: Waldos, Gene Manipulation, and Recombinant Fissionables. I redesign our starting vessels to use Recombinant Fissionables and Green Lasers. I also pick Suspended Animation to research next, but do not start funding it yet.
The reason is of course that we only have a budget of $120k to start with, and we're going to need all of that for exploration and to get our first colonies settled. Hopefully there are some nice worlds around, but we won't find them without ships -- moreover we need to stretch our budget as far as we can in that regard, without sacrificing too much speed in locating the best worlds.
In a 100/100 game, I would normally like to send a handful of scouts to each mini-cluster so we can picket all the worlds we explore and monitor the explorations of the other races we come into contact with. But under these settings, we can't really afford that yet, in part because there are so many neighboring miniclusters within relatively easy reach, given that we don't need to rely on nodelines. I think we're going to have to attempt to have each of our exploring vessels explore at least two worlds, and perhaps in neighboring clusters. We'll have to backfill with pickets later, as we can afford to.
For our exploration toward the center of the map, I think it best to emphasize speed and picket capability. So, I decide to send out groups of 5 ERs and a single tanker, with the intent that each such group will be responsible for exploring 2 mini clusters. For the map edges, a different approach seems called for; if I were to send 5 ERs to every mini-cluster I'd soon cripple our empire with fleet maintenance costs. Instead I will be using just 1 tanker and 1-2 ERs per mini-cluster for the map edges. We should follow these up with small colonization fleets to find and settle on the best possible worlds we can find in each direction. Defenses will follow after that.
Speaking of defenses, we need a ship design to guard our worlds from VNs and tackle any swarms we come across. Liir Fission DDs are too slow to run away from VN probes (or anything else really), so we'll have to fight them. I guess we want green lasers in every slot, but put a gauss cannon in the rear turret to better battle reflective swarm larvae and queens in autoresolve. We won't be building any right away but it'll probably be needed later.
I took 20 turns. During these 20 turns we've found several colony prospects. So far we've only founded one new colony apart from our homeworld, as most of the nice colonies were unfortunately not so close by. But that's about to change; the next player will have the opportunity to found several new colonies. We also have several scout groups exploring other mini-clusters near our starting area. As mentioned, these are being sent out in small batches; make sure to split them up as they are approaching the cluster they have been sent to explore.
We have also gotten a start on developing anti-VN guards for our colonies. For this purpose we can either use 2 GLazDDs (armour) or 3 ERG-DD (ER). The numbers are important because if the DDs fail to hold off the VNs and get eaten, you need 2 armours or 3 ERs for the VN mothership to make a new mothership and leave the planet alone. We'll need to continue building these defenses as we settle more worlds; some prospects have garrisons enroute, but not all.
We're now at a point where we have enough colony prospects about to be settled for our first wave that we probably won't be able to settle all of them immediately, so we can afford to slow down on expansion for a bit. We have a couple options here. We could turn on tech and start working on Suspended Animation for the next wave -- there is a 250 CH planet next to our HW that was not quite attractive enough for me to settle in the first wave but would make a good candidate for the second. Or we could try to save up to $1M first to avoid morale issues later. I'll leave this decision in the hands of the next player.
We can't really afford much of a fleet at the moment, but that should be ok as I wouldn't expect to see more than singleton scouts from anyone other than the Zuul. But we do need to get our first wave colonies growing now so that they can develop and ultimately build up a sufficient DD defense force for when Zuul bore fleets do start prowling around our borders.
We do have contact with the Morrigi and the Tarka so far; the former opened fire on us, and we encountered the latter at a swarm world. The Morrigi ideal CH is far from our own, so they might make decent allies; I've opened up a small annual gift to them to improve relations. The Tarka, on the other hand, prefer planets very similar to our own so we are bound to be in competition for worlds. I have not started giving them any annual gifts, but I'll leave that up to the next player.
Save file after 20 turns is here.