TAR - Seven at One Blow

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

Post by ZedF » Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:03 pm

T201-205

Some bold strides have been made over the last several turns. First up, I sent a pair of armadas on the attack at the neutral world of Grayson where I'd previously stranded a bunch of dreads from all 3 of my remaining rivals, arriving on T195. Each of them had at least 1 Armada CnC in the fight, so it would be their 3 armadas versus my one + outnumber bonus, but I had Thumpers as my ace in the hole. I formed up my fleet into an oblique line of battle, with the planet anchoring my right flank and my Thumpers on the far left, and let the Hivers come to me. They were of course gunning primarily for my command ship, while I was aiming my regular combat ships primarily at theirs. My Thumpers, on the other hand, focused on each ship as it came in, trying to drive the enemy sideways toward and hopefully into the planet. I did get a couple kills this way, but mainly I wanted to make sure the enemy was getting in one another's way and having to break free of the gravity well, so they couldn't get close and overwhelm my formation. Overall, the plan worked pretty well; I took out a number of enemy CnCs, such that only Citrine would have any left on the following turn, in exchange for light losses. Diamond reacted to this by evacuating most of their remaining forces, which made cleanup relatively straightforward, and I was able to settle a new colony.

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This meant that I had routes bored to all 5 remaining Hiver colonies in the cluster and could position fleets to hit all of them. Admittedly, each of these routes was over 6 LY and the Hivers would thus have advance notice of any such attack, but usually when faced with a multipronged assault, the AI isn't able to defend everywhere at once. So I ordered up a full court press; all 7 of my Armadas launched on the same turn. I felt like I could get away with this because the Hivers have few enough gates left in the area that it would be difficult to counter-attack; any such attack would most likely have to be launched via a planet I was already besieging. Thus, there wasn't much need to hold back forces for defense. I sent 2 armadas each at Vela and Rozokor, and one armada each at Kotok'che, Patraz'ket, and Za'traxin II.

Fortunately, the Hiver defense concentrated where I had sent my strongest attack forces. I'm not sure to what degree this was deliberate on the Hivers' part, but it does feel like they opened themselves up to defeat in detail, and it did make it easier to cement some gains and get a fleet back on defense. In particular, my Armada hitting Za'traxin II ran into very little trouble taking the planet in just one turn; unfortunately the planet is again not worth much, but this does enable that fleet to get back to Racha'tep in time to defend against a slow-boating Citrine armada, due to arrive in three turns. Additionally, with use of deep scan and careful fleet positioning, my forces assaulting Kotok'che and Patraz'ket were each able to clear all gates and most defenders, and these are worlds worth taking. They will be in my claws shortly.

The initial turn of battle at Vela and Rozokor was harder fought. At Vela, a Topaz colony, there were enough forces fielded by each of the 3 empires to be a credible threat. This meant I certainly could not rush the planet and get trapped between fires, but instead had no choice but to try to make it a moving battle, which is not something dreadnoughts excel at. I did send a pair of cruisers left to circle around and try to get at the vulnerable Topaz gate, but most of my forces broke right from the outset, since my deep scanner revealed that to be the direction from which Citrine and Diamond would be coming. I placed most of my Thumpers slightly ahead and to the right of my main formation, trying to knock Diamond and Citrine ships off target toward the planet as they charged my command ship. This worked less well than it had at Grayson, and I did ultimately lose a half-dozen ships in the fighting, but I was at least able to play keep-away well enough that my CnC wasn't one of them. While the enemy tried to regroup, I had enough time for my main fleet to keep moving right and take out the Citrine and Diamond gates, and for the pair of cruisers I'd initially sent left to close in on and destroy the Topaz gate in planetary orbit. I even managed enough separation to swap out my damaged ships for fresh ones, and got ready to go back on the attack, albeit with not much time left on the clock, as the Hiver forces tried to charge in piecemeal. I was able to kill both Diamond CnCs and both Citrine CnCs, so I'm pretty confident of victory here too, in a couple more turns.

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Even so, if could have outright lost anywhere, it would have been Rozokor. The first turn of fighting here opened with a Citrine Armada in front, a command station to my rear to complicate maneuver and/or withdrawl... and no sign of the Diamond and Topaz forces I knew were out there from the battle card. This was bad; the Citrine gate was too well-defended by sats to be sniped easily as I had done at Vela, so my main objective for the first turn was the destruction of the Diamond and Topaz gates. Without knowing which way they were, I couldn't move my main fleet from the starting position, so I was forced to accept engaging the Citrine armada near my spawn point. I brought in a spare CnC cruiser and deep scan, but it wasn't until the Citrine fleet had advanced and engaged that I was able to spot Diamond and Topaz forces steaming in from the left. I sent my spare CnC CA and scanner around in a wide arc that way to avoid fighting, and began to reposition my Thumpers to my left flank, with the idea to push enemy ships off course planetward, like I had done before.

But I had a couple complications. The first was that this time there were some enemy DNs in the mix with enough corrosive missiles to harass my Thumpers and degrade their effectiveness. The second was that my main fleet was stuck in a fight near my spawn point and didn't have an easy way to break free toward the gates. I just had too many enemies attacking along too wide a frontage to be able to disengage leftward, without taking a lot of casualties. Plus, those gates were far away from my spawn point, and I wasn't sure I had the time left to cover all that distance. So I came to the conclusion that the only way to get ships over to murder the Topaz and Diamond gates would be for my Armada CnC to die with a bunch of my cruisers fleeing out-system, so I could then withdraw the fleeing ships and bring in reinforcements around the CnC CA I'd previously sent in that direction.

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Instead of disengaging cruisers from the main battle toward the left, I mostly had to disengage my combat cruisers toward the rear of my right flank; the Thumper cruisers, which were already too far to the left for that, instead just fell back further in that direction. I'd already killed two Citrine CnCs, and as I exposed my Armada CnC I tried to add a Topaz CnC to that count, but sadly my CnC didn't last long enough. I wasn't upset; I was running short on time and I needed to get my evacuation plan underway if I was going to be able to take out those gates. So I launched what shuttles I had left as a diversion, then my ships tried to withdraw. I got fortunate; not many cruisers were killed during the evacuation, as most of them had gained enough separation before my Armada CnC died. Reinforcements popped in around the CnC CA, including a spare Armada CnC, and we charged for the Topaz / Diamond gates.

By the end of the first round of fighting at Rozokor, I had killed the Topaz and Diamond gates, but it felt more like a pyrrhic result than I would have preferred. All told I didn't really do that much damage to the enemy fleets, which were still sizeable. Also, while I did kill 2 Citrine Armada CnCs, they still had the command station, not to mention the gate and a spare, to boot; I thought they were likely to gate in more command ships and strengthen their forces for next turn. Moreover, the state of my node line to Rozokor was in terminal disrepair as a consequence of my large attack; I had a boreship working to re-rip it, but until it was done, my forces at Rozokor could neither withdraw nor be reinforced. This seemed as if it were going to be a tough fight, and I'd be stuck with it.

But as the next turn of fighting dawned, it was clear Citrine had not reinforced; in fact they had withdrawn almost all their remaining mobile assets! This took a tough fight and made it much easier. I simply approached the planet, killed the gate, and maneuvered such that the Topaz and Diamond forces approaching from the left would fall into a similar trap to the one I used at Grayson, wherein I could use Thumpers to knock key enemy ships into the planet. Maneuvering to form the trap was a bit tricky, and enemy corrosive missiles caused their share of chaos amongst my lines, but in the end I was happy enough with the results. It would take several more turns to clear out the Hiver presence, but eventually I would plant my flag.

All that remains now is to take on the Team 2 Hivers in their home clusters. Overall, this might not be too much harder than what I've done so far, but there are a couple caveats. One is that the slowest part of the Amethyst cluster was getting enough routes bored to have more than a tiny handful of options when attacking, even though I had a bit of a leg up with a couple of initial colonies. That will be harder in Hiver home clusters, where I have no such colonies, and where every world will be defended. The second is that while Diamond and Citrine have completed or nearly completed their tech trees, Topaz has not, so I might see more surprises from them which make it harder for Thumpers, EMP torps, and Heavy Fusion Cannon to be effective. My options are already pretty limited by variant rules and Hiver PD Phasers, so anything which makes Thumpers not work would put me in an awkward spot, at least until I start losing worlds.

Still, it might be the case that the Hivers are having production problems, and for the moment they are short on warships to throw into the grinder. I haven't seen nearly as many counter-attacks from the Hivers as I would have needed to in order for them to really threaten me. That's an issue, because a lack of threat makes the result seem to be a foregone conclusion, and I'm not usually one to draw out a won game. Battles take a long time with fleets this size, and I certainly can't afford to make use of autoresolve. Constant combat operations against 3 enemy empires at once are quite a test of patience. I might need to take a break after I finish up a few cleanup details in the Amethyst cluster, or perhaps declare victory and call it done.
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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 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:19 pm

T223-T226

While waiting for my bore ships to rip some initial routes into the Topaz and Citrine home clusters, I amused myself by embarking on possibly the stupidest way of terraforming high hazard planets that exists in the game:
1. Play as Zuul. Don't roll any random biotechs except suspended animation and (somehow) elemental nanites.
2. Colonize everything you can. Since you're unable to colonize anything over 750 CH, strip-mine those.
3. Fight a lot of wars. Eventually salvage Terraforming Bacteria, Enviro Tailoring, Grav Adaptation, and Biomes.
4. Get those plus Atmospheric Processors to grab the remaining high CH worlds; not cost-effective, but sure why not.
5. Discover that your Biomes suck at terraforming and are only good at dropping lots of population.
6. Notice that a few minerals/slaves leftover from recent conquests will still let this work near the front lines.
7. Realize that you don't have any slaves or minerals left near your home cluster or early conquests.
8. Build about 10 biomes for each >750 CH planet in your back lines anyway.
9. Design a cheap (~5K) fission DD. Build buckets of these and send them to your new high CH worlds to be scrapped.
10. This is dumb and even less cost effective, but it DOES work, given enough time and attention.
11. What else do I have left to do at this point anyway, while I'm waiting to be able to kick off the next invasion? I can't research anything useful and my fleets are already as big as I can afford. I'm just marking time here...

By T223 I was ready to launch my 7 armadas plus assorted supporting fleets, with each armada taking 3 turns to arrive at one of the three target worlds I was able to rip routes to: Ir'idan and Che'chakaz in Topaz space, and Ikik'xha in Citrine space. When I looked at the combat cards for the start of T226, I saw that the Hivers had opted to gate a large defense force to Ikik'xha, but left only light defenses at the Topaz colonies. So, I didn't bother fighting it out. If I can get a foothold in Topaz space this easily, even when I give them 20 turns to rebuild their navies and plenty of advance notice of my attacks, then I don't see what's going to stop me from continuing to absorb more Hiver worlds in the medium term.

Time to declare victory and move on to other games! It was interesting tooling around with much bigger armadas than I usually get around to building, even when I do get to the DN era, which itself isn't all that often. Hopefully it was a good read!

Some final thoughts:
- Thumpers were fun to play with, though if I had allowed myself to get any tech I wanted, I probably would have preferred to get Impactors first.
- I can see why some people who frequently like to play well into the latter stages of the game might get annoyed by Phaser PD. It did wind up taking a lot of my options off the table; if you don't get Impactors, then there aren't many long-range options left that aren't neutered by Phaser PD. That doesn't necessarily mean you can't find some way to get an advantage at medium range, though, as I did this game. Personally, I tend to play fewer games which go on long enough for Phaser PD to be a big factor, so I don't mind the challenge of finding workarounds.
- If you do find yourself playing as Zuul on a map where you can't simply expand omnidirectionally and roll over your opponents before they get big economies and AM/DN-era technology, be prepared to think outside the box. You won't necessarily roll a lot of good tools to use, so you might need to be a bit inventive about how you use them.
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 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:40 pm

Thanks Zed! That was really fantastic!

DemoMonkey
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Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:31 am

Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by DemoMonkey » Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:04 pm

Very enjoyable read, thank you.

fredNN
Posts: 255
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:29 am

Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by fredNN » Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:45 am

ZedF wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:26 am
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.
I tried Zuul in some games. And too decided taking slaves is too much work for small gain. So I did mod some of slave parameters, but didn't test them. Zuul are really not my race.

> >300 CH between my and the Hivers
That is what save game editor is for. But you could not know the whole problem when you started game. You still get respect from me for trying so long to make slave thing work.

EDIT still on second page of your TAR. Thank you for posting it! :D

Dragar
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:32 pm

Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by Dragar » Wed Aug 29, 2018 11:49 am

Thanks for the TAR, ZedF!

fredNN
Posts: 255
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:29 am

Re: TAR - Seven at One Blow

Post by fredNN » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:25 am

ZedF wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:07 am
T161

... 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.
...
Neutronium Rounds I did salvage, but only when destroying planet (I modded that very early in my modding, because MY Hiver look like to have only some 50% chance for them). AM warhead I never salvaged (*). There are also techs I could not salvage in battle, like Small Fusion Drives, Ionic Thrusters, Hardened Electronics... In my recent game my Hiver fighted over hundred battles with races that had this tech and I made sure I always had salvage ship or more there. Never salvaged it.

I think those unsalvageable techs have something similar: all are improvements, not "physical" components to put on ship. Will see now, when I finally started taking planets from AI, if I salvage them.

(*) I not far ago modded warheads to be salvageable from planet (type P), but in last 3 games I always got them. Eh... :)

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