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 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:03 pm

Yarg, sounds pretty rough. Maybe try boarding pod spam? Or perhaps a suicide/retreat mission to kill a gate and strand a huge enemy fleet at a dust ball world or two to keep enemy fleet support costs high? Yarg...

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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:11 pm

Boarding pods would certainly work as long as I don’t run into too many PD phasers; they are one of the more overpowered tools I was alluding to. The AI doesn’t really know how to counter this kind of tactic, though. There are other things I plan to try first, before resorting to dipping into the cheddar barrel.

I don’t think the AI actually has to pay fleet support costs, so they can’t put their economy under stress by overbuilding warships. And while I’m to some degree willing to sacrifice ships to get a useful result, I don’t have plans involving deliberately throwing entire fleets away. Still, your thoughts about doing something about enemy gates are definitely aligned in the same general direction as mine. :)
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 16, 2018 12:36 pm

T180

In recent turns I've had some better luck pushing the Hivers off uncolonized and usually barren planets. I've been doing this with small squadrons optimized more for speed than firepower. At a neutral world where everyone starts in orbit, and where I'm in player position one so the opposing forces all start to one side of mine, it's relatively easy and natural to draw the enemy into a stern chase. Once I am gaining separation, I can optionally attempt to split my fleet, such that only a portion of it is on enemy scanners and vulnerable to pursuit. Either way the goal is for a few cruisers out of enemy line of sight to make a quick reverse, or to circle around the planet, so that I can destroy any gates whose defenders have been drawn out of position. After the gates are gone, oftentimes the Hivers will try to withdraw some or most of their stranded ships by sublight, making the world much more vulnerable to assault by a bigger conventional fleet.

So far I've taken Pek'che and Nozokris, and eliminated the gates around Peck, without running into anything that might put a wrench into this kind of plan. I'm about to try my luck at Racha'tep, Bronson Alpha, and Grayson in the next few turns, as well. I couldn't hold Peck, and Topaz has since re-established a gate there, but otherwise I've been pretty happy with these results. Establishing control of barren worlds may not do much for my economy, but there are other benefits. For instance, it makes certain of my colonies like Winath less vulnerable to farcaster attack, which frees up armadas that might otherwise be on guard duty for additional attacks. And it also allows me to expand my node network, so that I have more vectors available to attack along.

That said, I'm hesitant to try to apply similarly evasive principles to attacking enemy colonies. For one thing, many factors are quite different for planetary assaults, ranging from the starting placement of each side's forces, to the presence of fixed defenses, and more. But just as importantly, I don't want to feel like I am short-circuiting my variant rules by over-reliance on tactical misdirection. For instance, I know decoy attacks with shuttles will work to lure AI enemies out of position to defend a gate, but that's a ruse I'd rather eschew for now. Without resorting to some kind of additional trickery, I don't feel too confident that speed and maneuver alone would be sufficient to kill enemy gates around colonized worlds... at least not without some kind of technological edge I don't currently have.

But just because I'm still not quite ready to resume attacks on enemy colonies, doesn't mean I haven't gained any new ones. Not all of the ostensibly barren worlds I've been attacking are in fact barren; at least one - Nozokris - is merely outside Hiver climate tolerances. Of course, Nozokris is also a tiny size 1 world, so it's not worth much aside from its location at the center of the cluster, and its loss would never justify loosening my variant restrictions. But it did draw a farcasted attack that might have gone to one of my more important worlds, so that's something.

In fact, Nozokris got attacked by a fleet of 9 Citrine DNs and a couple CAs just 2 turns after I colonized it, so the colony was still small enough that I expected it to be a guaranteed write-off. The surprise was that Citrine was now fielding a pair of Impactor DNs in their fleet, which I'd heretofore only seen from Diamond. Once I saw rail gun shots inbound at the start of the battle, I knew that I was in trouble and my fleet was at risk. If my command DN took too much punishment from those too soon, there was no way it would survive a 4 minute battle. So I had to try a tactic that seemed like a desperate gamble.

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Fortunately, Nozokris has an asteroid belt. I withdrew all my ships except for a bunch of destroyers and a DD CnC, then had the DD CnC run for cover in the asteroids while the rest of the destroyers fled; I lost one of the latter to rail gun fire. Of course this sacrificed the defense of my colony; I simply allowed the Citrine Impactors to close on the planet and take it out, while I maneuvered my DD CnC to just outside visual range, still under asteroid cover. Once there was just over half the combat round remaining on the timer, I put the Armada CnC and my cruisers back to the top of the reinforcements and withdrew the destroyers. This let my armada try to ambush the Citrine Armada CnC and Impactor DNs at relatively short range, while they were initially facing away from my forces, deep in the gravity well and far away from their respawn point.

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This worked better than I had any right to expect; not only did I manage to kill the initial Citrine CnC and Impactors, but I also was able to take out their second wave in the remaining time, while losing only 2 cruisers in the exchange. Even so, I came within a few hundred hp of damage from losing my Armada CnC, and was likewise fortunate not to lose more damaged cruisers before they could withdraw. It was a risky maneuver that paid off, but I can't count on that kind of luck repeatedly, so while this might be a feasible tactic in an emergency, it's not something I want to try to plan major battles around. But I might not have a choice; I really need a more reliable defense against Impactors, and until I get one I don't have many other options. Fortunately, I recently got a salvage pick in the shields tree that has to be Deflectors; once I'm done reverse engineering it, that might be just the thing.

Image
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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willdieh
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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by willdieh » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:27 pm

Amazing strategy... Thanks for the no cheese tips on working against hivers!

How do you know what branch of tech your stolen research is in before it's finished?

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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:50 pm

You’re welcome to the tips regarding gate-killing at neutral worlds, though I would probably say ’minimal cheese’ rather than ‘no cheese’... a smart human player would probably refuse to be drawn away from a critical defense asset by a faster enemy, exactly to avoid this sort of thing. But the AI isn’t able to think about that. ;)

As far as special projects go, you can find them on the wiki 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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willdieh
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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by willdieh » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:09 pm

I see you're using disruptors - do you find them to be a crucial part of your weapon layout for dealing with Hivers?
I was playing last night and struggling over the decision of Strafe vs Barrage. It was still relatively early (just hit Fusion) but I felt the low cost and extra firepower of the Strafe outweighed the additional armor of the Barrage. But I did want to use that disruptor sooo bad...

BTW: I noticed the hivers were running SHIELDS in some of your earlier pics! I've never seen that before! (or were they just deflectors?)

Edit: Meant to say assault not barrage. Zed's advice below seems to realize that already ;)
Last edited by willdieh on Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:19 pm

Crucial is a bit strong. Useful, maybe. Zuul are a bit fragile, after all, so cutting down on incoming turret DPS is not a bad thing, and disruptors are my best damaging torpedo right now (sad as that may be.)

As Zuul, I generally don’t use Barrage mission sections, but I do like Assault noses, mainly for the durability. The extra shuttle and overall stronger armament and PD motivate the choice over Battle Bridge. Good access to the disruptor torpedo line is nice too. Early in the CA era I like to mix Assault ships in front with Strafe ships behind for extra firepower, but I tend to find that eventually as tech increases, Strafe becomes too fragile to be viable. This is especially true when facing enemies that favour shooting nose sections, like Hivers. Naturally the calculus is different for other races than Zuul.

Since DNs can’t use bubble shields, those are indeed deflector shields the Hivers are sporting. Good thing I have those HFCs and have access to Pulsars or those would be a problem; I don’t really want to have to get Shield Breaker technology.
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 19, 2018 8:26 pm

Just an interesting scenario I find myself in during a current Zuul game:

I always play on a Disc galaxy with 8 players and 180-200 stars on hard. When Zuul I bee-line straight outwards towards my nearest neighbors in order to contain them as quickly as possible.

In my current game, my two side-neighbors are both Morrigi with a hazard difference of only 25! I reached their homeworlds while they were still in destroyer technology. I'm now making regular trips to their homeworld to scoop up slaves and it's working rather nicely. With one language tech in Morrigi, I can work them at 200% with only a 12% death rate!

Eventually my nearby planets will fill up with slaves, but it's just a fun situation I find myself in :)

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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:29 am

T193

I'm continuing to slowly clear Hivers off of the neutral worlds in the Amethyst cluster. I do have to be a bit careful, especially around Diamond's fleets, because their AM-era beam weapons can rip cruisers up pretty quickly otherwise. This is not to say I'm without toys of my own, though. Each of my 7 Armadas now sports a half-dozen Thumper/Fire Control cruisers, which are primarily useful for keeping enemy energy weapons DNs at arm's length, while I allow enemy CnCs and Impactors to get close enough to be killed. My armadas also include a handful of ships equipped with Pulsar torpedoes, which do double duty taking out enemy shields and thinning out enemy Impactor and Projector fire. I have to pay attention to their positioning, though; my latest model Armada CnCs also mount a salvaged Deflector shield as an additional precaution against enemy Impactor fire from outside Pulsar range, so it's important to try to avoid taking the shield down with friendly fire. The remaining improvement with the biggest bang for the buck would be Quark armour, but my research teams still haven't finished reverse engineering that yet. Soon, I hope!

Combined arms is proving its value here; the enemy has a variety of different kinds of threats it can present, so I need a variety of responses to best deal with each threat. Part of the benefit of sticking with cruisers is that they offer that flexibility. It would for instance be a lot harder to use Thumpers effectively on a Dreadnought platform for several reasons: cost, mobility, ability to concentrate/disperse, ability to field more or fewer at any given moment, and ability to take Fire Control sections are all important to how I use them. Additionally, the extra outnumbering CP is important for fielding speciality ships like Thumpers without diluting my total firepower too much. Altogether, I feel pretty good about my ability to control battles and fight mostly on my terms, and thereby keep my cruisers alive.

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For instance, just recently I had to defend Nozokris against a second farcasted fleet, this time sent by Diamond. They started out by fielding a pair of nasty energy DNs alongside their CnC. But I had the outnumbering bonus and used it to field 2 pairs of Thumper cruisers to push those energy DNs away and keep them mostly out of the fight. First one enemy CnC ventured under my guns, then the second; both were destroyed one at a time. Then I let one of the energy DNs come close enough to be killed, followed by the other. At the end of the round I had traded a couple cruisers for 5 DNs and damage on a 6th, and the enemy fleet was leaderless. Nozokris didn't take a scratch during the fighting, and its shipyards will make good my losses shortly. Funnily enough, this is only the second time I've been attacked via farcaster this game, which seems low. I can see why Citrine might be more worried about defense, since I have lots of fleets around what they might think of as their space, but I would have thought to see more farcasted attacks from Diamond and Topaz by now.

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Even though I feel more confident about my ability to control the tactical battlefield, for the most part I've thus far avoided putting my fleets into pitched battles with multiple enemy Armadas. Instead I've been trying to arrange to hit worlds where the enemy lacks CnC, or otherwise has only a weak presence. At neutral worlds, this would be as a result of my fast squadrons outmaneuvering the enemy to hit unguarded gates on previous turns, and thus encouraging the enemy to withdraw by sublight. I've also been able to take over a trio of minor Citrine colonies this way, by waiting until their forces had moved away in response to some threat elsewhere or an apparent lack of threat near that world. To'tan'ti, Ixion, and Racha'tep II each had the misfortune of being less than 6 LY from a neutral world I'd taken possession of, and thus were vulnerable to being attacked with minimal warning. Unfortunately, none of them are any great prize, and I've run out of such easy targets, as all remaining Hiver worlds in the Amethyst cluster are more than 6 LY from any neighboring world. I'll likely have to start trying to crack tougher eggs, with multiple enemy fleets guarding them, if I want to make much more progress.

Image
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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willdieh
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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by willdieh » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:45 pm

Any chance you could post screenshots of your favorite ship designs?

I'm curious about pulsar guided torps. Do you favor them to disruptors for all your ships or do you just place them on your back line?

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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:16 pm

What is a favourite really depends on what I have available to research and what race I am playing. But I can probably arrange to get some shots of what I am using at this point in this game. :)

I don’t in fact use Pulsars on all my ships; that puts too much risk on my own deflectors and isn’t as good for suppressing turret DPS because of their relatively slow recharge rate. Typically I am fielding 2-3 EMP/Pulsar ships at a time.
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 » Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:36 pm

Some of the most recent designs I am using:

Image

Image

Image
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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willdieh
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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by willdieh » Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:38 pm

Hmm, interesting. Any reason you chose the heavy fusion over ap heavy? Because of deflectors?

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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:54 pm

Some of the most recent designs I am using, continued (as of T193):

Image

These are all designs you'd find in one of my armadas, as opposed to one of my secondary strikeforces based more on speed. In any given armada, I'll likely have:
- 2 Armada CnC, one of the design above and a backup (which might be the same, or an older design without the deflector)
- About 8 or more cruisers in the style of DrvCA, though they might be older designs with ADHD instead of HFC
- About 6 StopCA cruisers
- About 5 EmpCA cruisers equipped with Pulsars as above (older models with EMP torps will be used like DrvCA
- About 15 PD destroyers, which don't see a lot of use but help with outnumbering
- Secondary combat cruisers like strafe/armour, scavenger, backup CnC, etc, mostly leftover from earlier times
- A bunch of non-combat ships including repair, refinery, colonizers, scanners, etc.
In total I tend to have over 30 cruisers and 25-30 destroyers, as well as 2 DNs, in an armada at this stage of the game.

On the fleet manager screen I'll have 6 DrvCA, 2 EmpCA, 2 StopCA, plus the Armada CnC. Generally I expect to put whatever ship I expect to need more of at the top of the reinforcements and bring them in via outnumbering bonus, since the AI is building dreadnoughts almost exclusively, and his fleet sizes are much smaller 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

ZedF
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Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by ZedF » Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:57 pm

willdieh wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:38 pm
Hmm, interesting. Any reason you chose the heavy fusion over ap heavy? Because of deflectors?
Partly that. Also I don't have Neutronium so oftentimes HFCs just do more damage. Most times I am fighting in the medium or long range bracket for the HFCs, and more often the former, around range 700-1000 or so; dreadnoughts have big collision envelopes and I have Thumpers to help prevent them from getting very close anyway.
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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