Some general questions + request for anti-Zuul help

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Mantonization
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Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2014 9:59 pm

Some general questions + request for anti-Zuul help

Post by Mantonization » Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:55 pm

Good day!

I'm one of those people who discovered and fell in love with SoTS during the Steam Summer Sale. It's got a lot of interesting ideas and encounters that I haven't really seen in a space 4X before.

However, I find myself having conniptions because I just can't deal with Zuul. Each game with Zuul in them (read: all of them, because you're not getting the full experience if all the races aren't present, right?) leads to me encountering them sometime in the early game, and then them immediately throwing huge fleets (I've had one of 127 destroyers, and one of 48 cruisers) at me non-stop. This is further exasperated by the fact that they seem to be able to field more ships at one time than others, and their cruisers seem more manoeuvrable and come with more weapon mounts. Missile spam ahoy, who needs tactics!

How do I go about dealing with these marsupial scumbags? My general playstyle (very conservative, slowly build economy / research and make friends until I have an overwhelming superiority) doesn't seem to be very effective against them, and while I'm loathe to change it I'd rather be playing different than dead.

Some other questions:

- Is there a way to change where your homeworld is placed at the beginning of the game, or who your immediate neighbours are? I've been messing around with where I and others are within the pre-game roster to see if that makes a difference, and it seems that (on Disk, where I usually play) I always start on the edge, with Zuul as a neighbour.

- Is there a way to affect whether your ships go under or over your enemies, in battle mode? I ask because it's usually the case that a ship's big guns are on the top, and I notice that enemy ships nearly always go underneath my own.

Thanks for reading

kjn
Posts: 489
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 9:38 pm

Re: Some general questions + request for anti-Zuul help

Post by kjn » Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:58 pm

Yeah, this is one of those games with really long legs!

Which race do you usually play? I'm going to assume you're playing as humans right now, but the same principles apply in just about every case (the Hivers are a little bit different, though).

The Zuul have cheaper ships with more weapons mounts than everyone else, and they can also field more of them into battle than the other races (they get a racial command point bonus). However, their ships are very fragile, and they tend to focus on their existing bore paths, so you can usually predict where they will attack and reinforce just those worlds. They also research very slowly and their worlds become resource-depleted with time, so if you can withstand the initial storm you should be able to pull ahead.

Also, this is a 4X game, and being able to expand quickly and kick down the other races as they try to expand are the most important things early game, and for a bit of the mid game too. A single scout or two can easily destroy immature colonies.

Making friends is quite hard to do in this game. Usually you can only hope to make friends with one or two other factions, if that.

There is no way that I know of to decide your starting position. That you always start with a Zuul neighbour is just the toss of the dice.

I have seen way to influence how the ships move vertically in tactical combat. Sometimes they go below, sometimes above, and I can't say I've seen any pattern to it.

There are plenty of TARs and SGs around. The most recent SG might be of interest - it was us as Tarkas allied with (ineffectual) Hivers against four hard Zuuls, and we won circa T170, though with a starting bonus of one million credits.

Mantonization
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Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2014 9:59 pm

Re: Some general questions + request for anti-Zuul help

Post by Mantonization » Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:05 pm

kjn wrote:Which race do you usually play? I'm going to assume you're playing as humans right now, but the same principles apply in just about every case (the Hivers are a little bit different, though).


My favourites are the Liir. I could say stuff about how I like the research bonus, or the manoeuvrability of their ships, but really I just like playing as magic space dolphins.

kjn wrote:The Zuul have cheaper ships with more weapons mounts than everyone else, and they can also field more of them into battle than the other races (they get a racial command point bonus). However, their ships are very fragile, and they tend to focus on their existing bore paths, so you can usually predict where they will attack and reinforce just those worlds. They also research very slowly and their worlds become resource-depleted with time, so if you can withstand the initial storm you should be able to pull ahead.


Don't feel that fragile. What sort of weapons / sections do you think I should use? At the moment I'm trying war / hammerhead sections with as many heavy / mass drivers as possible and PD lasers on every small mount (since it bears repeating, their missile spam is ridiculous). It seems to work, although I have no real clue if it's optimal or even actually that great, since SoTS seems to be one of those games that runs on not telling you anything.

(I'm a little bitter, can you tell? God, they're like obnoxious Reavers)

Torezu
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Re: Some general questions + request for anti-Zuul help

Post by Torezu » Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:13 pm

Mantonization wrote:My favourites are the Liir. I could say stuff about how I like the research bonus, or the manoeuvrability of their ships, but really I just like playing as magic space dolphins.

Liir ships are almost as fragile as Zuul ships. Combat against Zuul should focus on dropping their command ships first (if you can pick them out, DEs are challenging, CRs are much easier to see), since reinforcements will then appear elsewhere. If you can't reach their command ships, pop the nearest, most highly damaging ships first: any CRs with heavy beams, etc. Focus on engines and noses, for the most part, as once two sections go the ship is gone. Emitters, even light emitters, help immensely against Zuul swarms, but bunched UV lasers or beamers work fairly well too. Missiles and other long-reload-time or long-range lower-damage weapons usually don't work very well because Zuul ships are also the fastest in the game size-for-size and drive-for-drive.

Since you're playing Liir, you get a good chance at emitters, good (small mount) lasers, and heavy beams. All are quite effective at picking off priority targets then out-ranging the relatively short-range, but high-damage, Zuul. The energy cannon line is also high-chance for Liir, and good at taking out more fragile targets, especially the heavy and emitter series.

kjn wrote:Don't feel that fragile. What sort of weapons / sections do you think I should use? At the moment I'm trying war / hammerhead sections with as many heavy / mass drivers as possible and PD lasers on every small mount (since it bears repeating, their missile spam is ridiculous). It seems to work, although I have no real clue if it's optimal or even actually that great, since SoTS seems to be one of those games that runs on not telling you anything.

Try fighting Hivers sometime. Keep in mind that War sections are both slower and more expensive than Armor sections, and not as tough. If the Zuul are missile spamming you, get in as close to them as you can - PD works better at short range. Just watch out for gauss/mass driver outfitted ship, as those also work better at short range.

PD on every small mount is good against Zuul into the CR era, but you're sacrificing a fair bit of firepower by not using some of those for small weapons like UV lasers and beamers against almost everyone else, or if the Zuul aren't missile-focused that game. The AI players will also change ship designs to adapt to yours, so it may turn out you have a lot of useless PD taking up small mounts after a little while.

Liir do not get very good tech chances for kinetic weapons, so most people that play them don't go down that tree any farther than PD, unless they're shooting for late-game railguns or shield breakers. If you don't get armor piercing (rare for Liir), standard gauss/mass/heavy drivers don't have the armor piercing ability to kill anything but Zuul and other Liir, and maybe Morrigi, into mid-/late-game.

All tech, expansion, and combat is a balancing act. You have to figure out whether your basic strategy works, based on how the game is set up, number and type of enemies, map size, available resources, etc. Never neglect trade, either, except on very small maps where it's not worth it - it often makes the difference between victory and defeat.

kjn
Posts: 489
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Re: Some general questions + request for anti-Zuul help

Post by kjn » Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:16 pm

Ok, yeah, if you're primarily playing Liir then I think you can be in trouble. Liir and Morrigi are the two slowest starters in the game, and their early ships are relatively fragile and quite expensive. As Liir you're also slow in the early game, especially on the "wrong" type of map.

As Liir, don't put all the small mounts into PD. You have lots of them, and missiles can be pretty much ignored until fusion missiles appear (a nuclear missile is just a slow-firing but long-range gauss cannon). Liir have too few medium and large mounts to solely rely on them for damage.

Scout and expand aggressively. Your ships are slow, but you can do a trick that only the Hivers and the Morrigi can do: give intra-transit orders from the first turn (though you can't change the fleets in transit). A few tricks to do:

  • Send a "scout bomb". Build three-four scouts (ER mission section) and a tanker. Target all of them (as separate fleets) at a relatively distant star. The tanker will refuel the scouts. Then detach the scouts to go for stars you pass by. This way you can reach farther stars and keep moving at high speed.
  • Send coloniser-tanker pairs out "on spec" a turn or three after the scouts, ready to pounce on any low-CH worlds.

I don't have that much experience with the Liir sections, but often the War sections are not that good. You also seem to go for heavy DPS and brawl against the Zuul. The Hivers or the Tarka can afford that with their tough ships. You can't. The Liir's strength is in the specialty sections: battle bridge, assault, blazer, and barrage. Get HCLs or even better lancers, and you'll easily alpha strike their cruisers. Focus fire on their CnC ship first, and then pick off the rest of their ships. Target engine sections if you're not fighting over their colonies - engine-less ships can be pretty much ignored as they drift away. Learn toswitch out your damaged ships for new healthy ones once you've defeated the first wave.

But the mantra should be: expand, expand, and expand. If you're not losing an early colony now and then you're not expanding hard enough. Use scouts aggressively, and create a "beaten zone" around your borders where you have pickets and pounce on any movement. The Humans excel at that, but you can still use fleets stationed mid-space for quick reactions.

Torezu
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Re: Some general questions + request for anti-Zuul help

Post by Torezu » Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:38 pm

kjn wrote:...missiles can be pretty much ignored until fusion missiles appear (a nuclear missile is just a slow-firing but long-range gauss cannon).

Liir ships are too fragile to completely ignore missiles in the quantities that Zuul usually spit them out, even with crap warheads. There's a balance.

kjn wrote:Send coloniser-tanker pairs out "on spec" a turn or three after the scouts, ready to pounce on any low-CH worlds.

This. Liir are extremely slow in grav wells (within 2LY of a planet), but relatively fast in open space. Save yourself a couple turns of post-scouting travel time by sending a tanker out with 1-4 colonizers in a fleet, and sit 2 LY off your planet (or wherever is convenient - you can stop moving on any turn you want). Note that their slow speed applies to tactical combat as well: Liir next to a planet are very slow, but if you can intercept enemies in deep space, that often reverses. It doesn't work on Zuul or Human of course.

kjn wrote:I don't have that much experience with the Liir sections, but often the War sections are not that good.

This is true, though the exception is if you can cram a lot of high-damage weapons on a small ship and put a lot of them in the field. DEs with medium emitters or CRs with Particle/Neutron Beams or Heavy Plasma/Fusion cannons can either outrange or just destroy in alpha strike a large number of enemy ships, and retaliation often isn't enough to kill them. But War sections are slower, not as tough, and more expensive then Armors, despite their extra firepower.

kjn wrote:But the mantra should be: expand, expand, and expand. If you're not losing an early colony now and then you're not expanding hard enough. Use scouts aggressively, and create a "beaten zone" around your borders where you have pickets and pounce on any movement. The Humans excel at that, but you can still use fleets stationed mid-space for quick reactions.

The Liir are one of the couple of races (the other's Tarka) that have a very good reason to rush Fusion: range and speed. Basically the absolute minimum travel time for Liir at the beginning of the game is 5 turns, and it doesn't get better until you have Fusion. Against the Zuul, changing from a 5-7 turn response time to a 2-3 turn response time can make or break your game.

ZedF
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Re: Some general questions + request for anti-Zuul help

Post by ZedF » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:02 pm

To add to the above advice, one thing to remember is not to focus too much on tech at the beginning of the game. It's more important to have the ships you need to expand your economy and defend it, than to have a lot of advanced technology to equip them with. The fact that you are Liir and have bonuses to research just means that you can devote a relatively small amount of your budget to tech while you prioritize more important things, and still get a good return on investment and a healthy tech rate.
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

kjn
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Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 9:38 pm

Re: Some general questions + request for anti-Zuul help

Post by kjn » Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:15 pm

Two very important resources:

Chariot's interavctive tech tree (hint, save a local copy)
The SotS wiki

Aeson
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:55 pm

Re: Some general questions + request for anti-Zuul help

Post by Aeson » Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:06 am

Mantonization wrote:- Is there a way to affect whether your ships go under or over your enemies, in battle mode? I ask because it's usually the case that a ship's big guns are on the top, and I notice that enemy ships nearly always go underneath my own.

Since I didn't see this one addressed, I thought I'd address this somewhat. While I do not know of a way to influence whether your ships go high and their ships go low or vice versa, you can issue a roll command to all the ships you have selected at any given time by pressing either square bracket key, which will cause the vessel to perform a 360 degree roll about the axis running from the bow to the stern.

[ rolls the ship counterclockwise, ] rolls the ship clockwise, if viewing the ship from astern.

I will also add that I personally don't feel that Liir War cruiser sections are all that worthwhile. Liir aren't really made for brawling, but the arcs of the Liir War cruiser say that it wants to be in between a couple enemy ships unless you happen to feel like making sure it rolls frequently, and it also didn't gain much firepower relative to the armor section (it trades two medium mounts for a large mount, and shifts the armor's large mount off the centerline; the net effect is that each of the War section's large mounts has a firing arc covering roughly the area that the armor's medium mounts covered, or about half what the armor's centerline large mount covered). The Liir War destroyer sections are more reasonable, while Liir War dreadnoughts have something weird going on with their Heavy Beam mounts. That being said, there's little reason not to at least take a look at it if you've unlocked it; maybe you'll have a use for it.

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