TAR - Seven at One Blow

Tactics and Action Reports.
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willdieh
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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by willdieh » Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:57 pm

ZedF wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:15 pm
I'm beginning to reach the conclusion that my earlier analysis was correct, and slave farming's benefits, while real, simply fail to outweigh the costs.
Le sigh... Yeah, I think that this is what most people decide. Still, nothing beats the feeling of sending in 20 scavengers, sucking up a planet, killing off the enemy fleet in orbit, settling with a single colonizer, and dropping the slaves back down :) Instant world. So, slaves to me are just another form of Zuul's early planet development bonuses (like population growth and overharvesting).

Thanks for the valiant effort though!

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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:17 am

T092

Sometimes one of the quirks of fighting against an alliance of AI enemies is that its members don't always learn from one another's struggles. My initial foray into Rose Hiver space is pitting me up against an empire that still loves its missiles, even though it ought to have been able to observe its ally Jade's battles, and should know that missiles won't cut it when I have emitters and PD on my ships. As a consequence, my fleets were able to wipe out a sizeable fraction of the Rose navy at Shoni, which is now my beachhead world into the Rose cluster.

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Of course, I didn't stop there; I was also able to conquer Razhakin, Oto'chis, and Hebron using my older mass driver navy, without much fuss. I did have to be careful not to approach the planet and get into combat too quickly at Hebron, in order to ensure my fleet did not take punishment to the point of losing a lot of ships; sometimes max intensity combat is not what you want, if slowing things down lets you defeat more enemy fleets in detail and gives your repair ships more opportunities to get to work. The Hivers will and did stop gating reinforcements eventually, and the planet is now mine.

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Moreover, I have three new mixed destroyer-and-cruiser strikeforces of more modern construction entering the cluster, equipped with APMD cannon and Magnetoceramic armour. These ships are ready and able to make an even bigger impact tban my current attackers, as soon as I get the requisite node routes bored. The Rose Hivers probably won't be able to do much to resist me even if they do wise up and stop using so many missiles; I could just upgrade to full cruiser fleets if necessary, and will certainly be able to afford them if I can take over the Rose cluster. Of course, the main event only starts once I start getting into contact and conflict with the other team of Hivers, so if the warm-up act is little more than a speedbump, that's quite ok.

Even so, not quite everything is going to plan. I researched up to Incorporate Hiver, and lo and behold, the next time I went to grab slaves from an indy world, it surrendered. Bah! That pretty much kills slave farming for this game as far as I am concerned, since I'd need that xenotech (and more) if I want to get the slave death rates down enough to make the activity economically feasible. Maybe if the Hivers were super-close to my native CH then I could get by with just the first couple levels of Hiver language. But if the only way to make slave farming worthwhile is to prolong the game by not killing a rival when I can easily do so, in addition to all the other costs I've mentioned previously, then forget it. At least for this game, taking slaves as a part of conquest is reasonable, but sacrificing a lot of tempo by deferring conquest, in a gamble that the slave economy will eventually pay off, is not.
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: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:26 am

willdieh wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:57 pm
ZedF wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:15 pm
I'm beginning to reach the conclusion that my earlier analysis was correct, and slave farming's benefits, while real, simply fail to outweigh the costs.
Le sigh... Yeah, I think that this is what most people decide. Still, nothing beats the feeling of sending in 20 scavengers, sucking up a planet, killing off the enemy fleet in orbit, settling with a single colonizer, and dropping the slaves back down :) Instant world. So, slaves to me are just another form of Zuul's early planet development bonuses (like population growth and overharvesting).

Thanks for the valiant effort though!
I think the biggest problem is just that in order for slave farming to work out you need an enemy that is (a) weak, so you can afford to ignore them other than to make slave runs, (b) out of the way, so you don't necessarily need to expand through them to get at more dangerous rivals, and (c) very close to your preferred CH, so slaves die naturally very slowly. IF all 3 of these conditions obtain and you are willing to put in the effort, it might be made to work. But in this game the linear cluster map with >300 CH between my and the Hivers failed tests (b) and (c). I imagine it's pretty uncommon for the stars to align in favour of slave farming.
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: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:00 pm

T110

The Rose Hivers are steadily getting torn apart, and no longer have the economy to do much about it. At least they're experimenting with using weapons other than missiles, but it's all fission-era stuff: HCLs, UV Lasers, Plasma Cannon, Mass Drivers, Stormers, Disruptor torpedos, and most recently Particle Beams. But none of it really hurts that much when I have Magnetoceramic armour and AP drivers.

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There was one battle which could have been tough, at Talok, where I had to fight both the Emerald and Rose Hivers simultaneously; however, two factors caused it to turn out relatively easy. The first was that Rose lacked any kind of CnC for the battle, so it was no problem clearing a path through the initial defense, launching a couple slave disks, and proceeding to bombard the planet. The second was that once the slave disks finished their attack runs and fled back toward my Scavengers for pick-up, the defenders decided to chase away the retreating slave disks. Maybe that shouldn't have been the highest priority, given that I still had ships bombarding the planet. Regardless, after the first round Rose had no colony, gate, or CnC, so it was just a matter of wading through the huge but poorly-armed Emerald fleet for a few combat rounds, then clearing the sats and claiming the world.

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I'm running out of useful stuff to research, for the moment. Probably if I weren't playing under variant rules I would have started researching Fusion about 20 turns ago. Instead I have to wait for contact with Team 2, which won't happen until I've fully consumed the Rose Hivers and am at least working on eating the Emerald empire. So, I'm picking up a few upgrades I don't really need for Rose, but might be handy for Emerald and subsequent conquests, and trying to plan in advance for dealing with the dreadnoughts I'm sure Team 2 is going to be packing once I run across them.

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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: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:02 pm

Bonus pics from various battles with Rose...

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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: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:27 am

T128

The Rose Hivers have fallen, and I'm now starting to work my way through the Emerald faction. Taking the initial beachhead world wasn't too tough, but it was only a size 1 planet and couldn't offer a lot of resistance. It doesn't offer a lot of support for future conquest except as a refuelling point, either, but not much can be done about that. I've had a bit of a wait for bore ships and fleets to begin arriving in quantity into the cluster, but we are starting to fan out now, insofar as rip bores allow. I anticipate subsequent Emerald worlds to be slower and/or more costly to grab than the beachhead was; Emerald has antimatter heavy planet missiles, and has recently started using heavy drivers and neutronium rounds, so I have to be careful in tactical. Still, I have 6 AP driver fleets which include good PD and some heavy drivers of my own, and I recently picked up Combat Algorithms and Holographic Tactics for bigger deployed fleets, so hopefully I can manage.

My first route bored into the Emerald cluster is continuing straight through the middle of it; I hope to break out the other side and rip a line into the Amethyst empire on the other side. I've done some scouting by sending trade raiders equipped with Deep Scan into various trade sectors within my reach, and their reports have suggested I want to get into the Amethyst cluster ASAP. We have detected fleets from the Topaz empire of AI Team 2, enroute to various Amethyst worlds. Amthyst is at the bottom of the rankings and I have a sense that they might not hold out much longer, so if I want a foothold in the Amethyst cluster or a chance at salvaging their tech, I need to get a fleet over there pronto.

From the game login screen, Topaz is the least advanced of the members of Team 2, but they are still almost certainly far ahead of my empire tech-wise. I haven't scanned any of their ships yet, but I am expecting dreadnoughts, Armada CnC, and a wide selection of fusion-era techs at minimum. Meanwhile I just made contact with Team 2, so I am only now allowed to start researching Fusion myself, and I am of course not close to dreadnoughts yet.

I don't really expect my current half-dozen DD-heavy fission-era fleets to be worth much when pitted up against Topaz and allies. While DDs pitted up against DNs can be made to work, you really need some kind of an edge to exploit in order for that to happen. But my current fleets are pretty generic short-to-medium range fleets, and generally expect to go toe-to-toe with opposing fleets in order to do their work. They can probably cope with Team 2 gate fleets lacking CnC, but they don't have nearly the moxie to take on DN armadas when both out-teched and outclassed. If my current fleets can finish off Emerald and secure the cluster from future Farcasted invasion forces, I'll be content with a job well done.

After Fusion, I'm going to need some new fleets to tackle the big boys. I don't see any really promising ways of continuing to rely on DDs in the near future, given what techs I have available. Drone DDs are my most likely option on that ship class, but if Topaz and friends have Interceptors (as seems likely) then that would be a hard counter; Wild Weasels might help defensively, but don't have enough range of effect to support an offensive drone strike. Instead I'll most likely need a mix of cruisers and dreadnoughts of my own, which is likely to get expensive. However, I've been saving up for just such an eventuality, and have a bankroll of over $10M at the moment, with which to burn for critical Fusion-era techs and completely retool my navy. First order of business probably has to be getting command parity with Team 2; after that I can look into seeing if I can find some fusion-era weapon and defensive upgrades.
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: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:30 am

T143

Emerald has been able to put up more than token resistance, and so my conquest of their territory hasn't exactly been lightning-paced. This hasn't been helped by the fact that I still have to rely on Rip Bores, which means that either Emerald gets plenty of notice of my attacks, or I have to waste extra turns due to retreating bore fleets and repositioning attack fleets to follow up on new lines being bored. Since I feel pressed for time to get conquest of this cluster done ASAP before Team 2 gets here in force, I've mostly chosen to go with the former. As a result, I've had to include more cruisers in my fission-era fleets and fight a number of larger multi-turn battles against built-up Hiver defenses.

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That said, I think the worst of it is behind me now. Emerald appears to be running out of gas, and I have enough bore/attack fleets split off from my initial routes and proceeding independently that my operational tempo is approaching something reasonable, considering my restrictions. I'm about halfway through conquest of the cluster, and the second half should proceed more rapidly than the first. This should let me get my defenses set up before a lot of DN-led gate fleets start arriving from the next cluster over, which is by now largely in Team 2's hands. My only disappointment is that I've yet to salvage anything really useful, like AM warheads or Neutronium Ammo, despite multiple victories over enemy worlds, with lots of slave-taking and Hiver Xenotech in hand.

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Still, there are a lot of AI fleets incoming. If I turn on route lines, the map gets pretty crowded with incoming attacks, and it's only going to get worse from here. This can actually get a bit demoralizing if I let the busyness of the map get to me. However, I don't actually have to do anything for quite some time about most of these. In fact right now there are only 2 incoming fleets I need to pay even a bit of attention to. The total number of incoming attacks isn't so important as the number of fleets that actually arrive on any given turn, which I can see from the Enemy Colonies view. So, recently I've started playing with attack lines turned off. I wouldn't want to do that against any race other than Hivers, but since I'm dealing with several Hiver foes, and only Hivers, this helps keep things from becoming overwhelming.

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Of course, I also have my own planned inroads into the Amethyst cluster to consider; I would really like to get a share of this pie before it's all gone. While I'm not ready to attack into the teeth of Team 2's defenses yet, I think I ought to be able to nab at least a couple worlds without having to fight anything tougher than a gate fleet or two. These do tend to include a combat DN apiece, granted, but without CnC, I'm not so concerned. And these first two worlds in the Amethyst cluster should be fairly defensible, considering that my initial beachhead at Silvaril (once I take it from Amethyst) will be outside Farcaster range from any other world in the cluster, so long as I can also take and hold Winath, the next world in line for my bore fleet to visit.

I am not sure how much further I'm likely to be able to get, though; I'm starting to see some fairly nasty toys show up in Hiver arsenals. The Diamond Hivers, in particular, seem to be at the top of the tech curve this game, and are sporting Farcasters, AI Command, Impactors, Positron Beams, and Lancers, at the very least. Fortunately they don't seem to have rolled anything better than Magnetoceramics for armour, but that doesn't mean other Hivers like Topaz haven't. And a lot of the worlds in this cluster already have 2 or even 3 gates at them, including all of Citrine's new colonies that they've taken fron Amethyst. Most of Amethyst's remaining holdings already have attack fleets incoming from Team 2. Opportunities to take territory without having to face one (or more!) enemy Armadas are limited in number and shrinking every turn.

Of course, I'd expected to start to hit a wall around this point in the game; I've set it up deliberately. I am in fact doing slightly better than I'd thought I would, as I originally hoped Team 2 might have completely conquered the Amethyst cluster by now, such that I wouldn't be able to easily get a beachhead. So even just nabbing a couple defensible worlds here for local production will be a nice bonus for my ability to launch further attacks, when I am ready. We'll just have to see how well a trio of advanced Hiver empires, at least one of which having Farcasters, can do at counter-attacking.
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: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by willdieh » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:54 pm

ZedF wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:27 am
While DDs pitted up against DNs can be made to work, you really need some kind of an edge to exploit in order for that to happen.
Have you ever tried spinal mount Destroyers? Yesterday I almost fired up a Zuul game just to see if their spinal mounts would be any good with AP Heavy Drivers. I didn't know if they got a single heavy mount or perhaps two because they're Zuul and wanted to see what it would be like with a Devourer + a bunch a spinal mount with AP Heavies. Unfortunately, I'm currently torturing myself trying to play Liir games at the moment (I often rage quit because they're soooo darn slow in expansion and combat compared to my beloved Morrigi) so I passed on the idea but thought I'd ask if it's something you've ever tried.

William

Edit:
Wiki says they only get one mount, but have a turning bonus compared to other races.

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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:46 pm

I have tried spinal mount destroyers before, but usually I need to set a game up specifically for that purpose before I will do so. For most races, if I need heavier guns I typically prefer to rely on war destroyers, armour cruisers, or war cruisers rather than spinal destroyers, because the former are easier to get and less expensive overall to build and/or replace.

There are exceptions; if you are late-game Liir with meson beams and Protectorate sections then by all means go for it. I’ve also heard of someone using spinal mount APHD destroyers as specialty satellite killers, though I haven’t tried this myself to see how effective it is. Spinal mounts can work in the right circumstances; I just find there are usually simpler and/or cheaper solutions in the early-middle parts of 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

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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:04 am

T145 - Defending my new colony at Silvaril (gateway world into the Amethyst cluster) from a Diamond gate fleet.

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T153 - Defending my new-ish colony at Kozapris (Emerald cluster) from a Topaz gate fleet.

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T153 - Defending my exposed colony at Star Haven(Emerald cluster) from a Citrine gate fleet.

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Readers may be noticing something of a pattern here...
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: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:07 am

T161

It's official; Team 3 is dead. I've completed my conquest of the Emerald cluster and have picked up a couple former Amethyst worlds in the bargain. I even managed to salvage photon torpedoes and another couple of techs to boot, though I'm now morally confident that AM Warheads and Neutronium Ammo can't be salvaged at all. Instead I've gotten picks from the Biology and Industry trees. The latter is probably Quark armour; I'm not sure about the former but it might be Grav Adaptation. Both of those will probably take quite some time to figure out what they are, before I can actually research anything.

In the Emerald cluster, all that's left to do now is defend it against various waves of gate fleets headed my way. So far my fission-era forces have enough combat power to do the job, so long as there's no CnC, but I've found I need to add some fusion-era ships anyway. My fission fleets just aren't fast enough in tactical to catch AM-era gate ships or other fleeing non-combat vessels, and I can't afford to let fights drag out over multiple turns, as in some cases I have multiple fleets arriving on successive turns from different Team 2 empires.

Of course the bulk of my fusion-powered navy is focused on defending my holdings in the Amethyst cluster and preparing to take the fight to Team 3. To that end I've finished researching Armada CnC and forming my forces into four Armadas, with more under construction. These are cruiser-centric Armadas with just the CnC as a dreadnought. Mostly they are armed with AP drivers, heavy AP drivers, and disruptor torpedoes; there are also a few EMP torps and heavy combat lasers in the mix. While my initial four armadas are largely ready for action, they still could do with a bit more fleshing out so that I have deeper reserves; I'm currently targeting 16-18 combat cruisers per armada and am not quite there yet. I've just finished researching Heavy Fusion Cannon, so that is going on some of the new construction to see if I prefer that in place of heavy AP drivers. Since I don't have Neutronium Ammo, I expect I probably will prefer HFC, but that needs testing.

I've focused more on cruisers than dreadnoughts for a couple reasons. The biggest is simply that they have far better price points, particularily with respect to upfront cost. Also, and importantly, I don't give up a lot of firepower by sticking with cruisers over dreadnoughts; 3 basic cruisers are much more comparable in terms of firepower to one basic dreadnought than 3 destroyers are to a cruiser. In fact, I can actually field more heavy guns on the cruisers, albeit with some loss of secondary armament, and cruisers are better for maintaining an outnumbering bonus. I still have destroyers in my armadas, in a PD role, for similar reasons; I considered adding some spinal mount AP heavy driver destroyers as well, for cases where PD isn't as useful, but so far haven't needed to.

The upside of dreadnought-centric fleets, as compared with cruiser-centric ones, is that they are less brittle. Each DN can take considerably more punishment than 3 cruisers -- in fact it's more like 5 or 6 -- without getting knocked around as much. You also don't need to be as careful with your Armada CnC if you have other DNs to act as linebackers, than you might have to be with only a cruiser screen. However, wounded DNs are a lot more challenging to extract from a heavy firefight than wounded cruisers, and are a lot more expensive to replace if you fail, or to field in depth to begin with. And deep cruiser reserves can in some ways partially mimic that extra toughness you get from DNs, especially if you have access to advanced metal armour. With my target of 16-18 combat CAs per armada, I have about the same firepower and effective health as 3 combat DNs, or better, but at about 2/3 the price and with more flexibility. On the whole, at the start of the DN era, I think the choice of DN-based vs. CA-based armadas typically falls out in favour of the CAs, unless your opponenents' forces are such that use of DNs for their size, mass, and toughness is critical to making the matchup come out in your favour, or unless your economy has ceased to be a limiting factor.

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I can't afford to let my beachhead in Amethyst get seriously threatened, so two of my armadas are guarding Winath against potential farcaster attack. Besides, I don't yet have a lot of routes bored through this cluster, and moving multiple armadas around degrades nodelines quickly. The few routes that I do have are mostly to well-defended worlds, down long nodelines I can't traverse in a single turn, such that surprise is out of the question. But I can't win this game solely by defending my turf and glaring across the border. Since my armadas are designed to be relatively affordable, I decided to risk one of them on a 2-turn attack at Kop're'ke, a former Amethyst colony which looked to be guarded by a small Diamond armada, but not much from the other factions. Fortunately, Team 3 did not reinforce, so I was able to pit my cruiser armada against 2 Diamond CnC DNs and a Support DN. Encouragingly, we came out on top handily, so now Kop're'ke is a new and swiftly growing colony of our own.

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Nevertheless, I still feel like I ought to treat these cruiser armadas with a certain amount of care. While I think my armadas can generally tackle a single enemy armada at a time and not come off too much the worse for wear, they will probably fold quickly if the fighting gets too intense, e.g. because of a bad matchup, or fighting more than one enemy armada at once, or insufficient depth of reserves. Diamond in particular has the tools available to really ruin a cruiser armada's day, if they start fielding solid designs in well-formed fleets. I'll have to be careful how much risk I embrace in pushing forward with these CA armadas, and a switch to DN armadas may eventually prove necessary.

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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: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by willdieh » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:55 pm

Any changes to your slave processing strategy?

I always struggle with the switch to dreadnaughts... Usually I only run a DN cnc with cruisers. Is there a good general rule for when to switch over? I just like the formation flexibility of CRs (sacrificial point unit to draw fire, retreats are easier, etc)

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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:56 pm

willdieh wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:55 pm
Any changes to your slave processing strategy?
Not really, just keeping a couple scavengers with each fleet and grabbing slaves when it’s convenient to do so. These often stay behind with a couple colonizers after I conquer a world, while the fleet moves on, and have to catch up later; the rest of the fleet usually has other priorities.
I always struggle with the switch to dreadnaughts... Usually I only run a DN cnc with cruisers. Is there a good general rule for when to switch over? I just like the formation flexibility of CRs (sacrificial point unit to draw fire, retreats are easier, etc)
I think the major rule is, if you have more money than you can easily spend on more cruiser fleets led by DNs, then it’s time to consider switching to DN fleets. Cruiser fleets are generally more cost-effective but require more micro. DN fleets are less hands-on but require a tech advantage and/or an economy advantage to really make sense.

If you find cruiser casualties annoying then you could try DNs, but you have to be careful about this. If your cruiser fleets are too vulnerable just switching to DNs might not be enough to solve the problem; DNs don’t really have any more defensive options to choose from than cruisers do. It’s one thing to prevent minor (replaceable) CA casualties by using more DNs. But if you’re getting your doors blown off, switching to DNs is likely to just make the losses much more painful. A change of tactics is more likely to be a better solution in that case.
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: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:07 pm

Having to face armadas worth of enemy ships more regularly now. Here's a pic from an attack at the former Amethyst colony of Ketozyz, rendered uninhabitable by Topaz bombardment:

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And here's one from a defense of a colony in the former emerald cluster.

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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: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:12 pm

T171

Not too much has changed in the last little while, though it's not for lack of trying. Unfortunately, as Zuul I'm limited in where I can attack, and by my variant rules I must still rely on Rip bores. I tried to send a diversionary attack at one Citrine colony, then follow up with attacks on another Citrine colony at Ixion and a barren world by the name of Pek'che. However, I'm not allowed at this juncture to use jamming or cloaking to conceal my hand, and the Hivers always seemed to have enough ships on hand to cover every threat at the same time.

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I didn't fare too badly at Ixion, considering both Citrine and Diamond have gates and fleets there, and despite the fact that EMP torps didn't take down DN Deflector shields like I expected. Perhaps I'm misremembering, and I need Pulsar torps for that job. Still, I'm using mostly assault noses on my cruisers, and Zuul assault sections mount shuttles. With careful timing and some luck, a shuttle launch lets me distract the enemy forces at a critical moment. This was useful for instance when I was about to be jumped by a Diamond armada, while I was still working on the Citrine armada I was facing off against. That bought me enough time to finish off the Citrine ships and withdraw my wounded for fresh replacements, and ultimately take out several enemy dreadnoughts for minimal losses.

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The problem was, this approach left my attack fleets stuck in a defensive posture at the node point, and unable to make any headway on killing the planet or gates. After 3 turns of battle I realized that both Citrine and Diamond were just gating in a spare CnC for every one I killed, and now Diamond was mostly out of older ships for me to kill and was about to start fielding Impactor DNs with Neutronium ammo, Meson beams, and Lancers. I don't really have an answer for Impactors yet, never mind Meson beams; my variant rules and typically Zuulish tech rolls restrict me from getting any of the hard counters, and Diamond beam weapons will make mincemeat of any light units I try to throw into the fray.

I am reluctantly forced to conclude that discretion is the better part of valor, and call off the Ixion attack. I can't expect to get anywhere just butting heads this way. I either need some good salvage picks, some relaxation of my variant rules, the employment of some tactical guile to outfox the AI, or the exercise of some of the more overpowered or AI-exploitative tools at my disposal, to make any progress here. Still, trying anything that exploits the AI too handily would kind of defeat the point of the variant rules, so I need to exercise some judgement about what tactical and strategic tricks I should consider on the table at this point.

The attack at Pek'che against Topaz and Diamond did not fare any better; in fact, it went considerably worse. I lost most of the fleet I sent there, partly because at a barren world, I can't use a shuttle launch to distract the enemy. Moreover, at an uncolonized world I start too close to the planet for easy withdrawl of wounded ships. I did manage to take out the Topaz gate for some small consolation; Topaz is the only remaining Hiver without Farcasters at this point, so at least the remaining Topaz ships at Pek'che are stuck there for a while.

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I might be tempted to consider adding more DNs to my fleet to shield my CnC from being priority targeted, but still, Impactors. I can't afford to make that kind of investment if it's going to be so vulnerable to a counter I can't yet do anything about. Rather, if I don't want to risk running big fleets into more trouble than they can handle, I need to keep my main forces close to home and look into options for smaller probing forces, maneuver battles, and asymmetric warfare. While the Hivers are all in the AM era and I'm still using Fusion, the AI does tend to like DN sections that are powerful but slow their ships down; consequently, small but nimble forces may be able to accomplish worthwhile objectives in preparation for a more major assault.

Running headlong into the teeth of the Hiver defense at colonized worlds hasn't paid off, but I can't afford to let up the pressure entirely. It might be time to pick a more modest goal than eliminating enemy fleets and worlds, and instead shift my focus to simply disrupting the gate networks over uncolonized worlds in the former Amethyst cluster... at least for now.
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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