Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

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piratep2r
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Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by piratep2r » Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:26 pm

Hey all!

Long time reader, first post.

I am looking for some advice from senior players, and I have searched for this advice on the forums and found little about it, so I am posting.

In quick background, my friends and I are aggressive and well-matched SOTS players playing ANY. I would describe us as "very aggressive." We frequently have large fleets in combat with high tree weapons within 100 turns of starting, despite starting at 1 planet, no tech basic settings. For us, up to a hundred ships on a side (mix of cruisers and dreads) seems pretty typical and we have found that manually resolving combat is completely untenable due to our insane load times. This is simply an observation, not to criticize the game which all like, play, and plan on continuing to play.

FYI, we all have at least dsl/cable internet, but the last time we tried to do a manual battle we were waiting 13 minutes for loading to take place before we quit and reloaded the game. And that was with a only 30 - 40 ships in total. I think most people are aware of this problem - but for us, with several other human players sitting on the sidelines, we could not justify making them "sit out" for up to 20 minutes per turn for a single battle.

So, now we all do all auto-resolve just to keep the game going, though we are all aware and regret the fact that manual combat is huge part of the strategery ( :) ) of SOTS. Also, we wish we could manual resolve, but no one wants to wait for some other shmuck to fight through 4, 20 minute, battles so they can play their turn! So, now we are all struggling to figure out how to design ships for autoresolve, since the action happens in a black box where we can't see what is happening, though correlation helps, as do the after action reports. This is only an issue since auto resolve seems to act a ton differently from manual resolve.

I thought that I would collect peoples thought on ship design for auto resolve counters and effectiveness here, so I could learn from other's experiences and share my own, since, frankly, I feel like I have lost games (in part) by not understanding what counters what. SOTS feels like a very different game if you cant fight out the fights!

Hope to hear from you all!

Oh, and here is what I know so far. Some of it is obvious, probably, but some is not. Remember, we are ONLY talking about auto-resolve.

General: It seems like auto-resolve simulates fleets closing to point blank range, except for certain long range weapons.

It seems to me that better drive tech and turning rates do not play out to a better result in auto-resolve the way they might in manual. A nimble ship seems to just get stomped in autoresolve by the ship with more guns. More guns = better.

It seems that fleet layout might not matter and reinforcement lists order definitely does NOT matter in autoresolve. I have often lost the last ships on my reinforcement list for no observable reason, and while still having my cnc ships intact.

Outnumbering an enemy matters a lot, on a ship size to ship size basis, but it has to be by a lot in larger number battles (IMHO) to really matter (perhaps percentage larger is what matters).

Command ship type works like you would expect. The more ships you can have on the field, the better.

All players in my games seem to be in a tentative agreement that it is the number and size of mounts, not the arc, that matter. hammerhead command movement versatility and fire arc seem completely overshadowed by straff's guns. Weapon placement does not seem to matter, but it is hard to tell.

autoresolve seems to send attackers into close orbit of attacked planet despite any defenses or defending fleets, where they will prioritize killing planet defenses. This means it is way harder and more costly to destroy a planet in autoresolve, since your ships seem to put themselves under the guns of every possible defender simultaneously while attacking some of the least effective defenders. It also means defensive platforms are extremely important in defending worlds on autoresolve, since they can essentially double the effectiveness of a defense simply by acting as targets and soaking up fire. Annecdotally, as long as there are platforms in orbit, the planet itself seems to take less collateral damage in auto resolve then it might in manual, even if the ships were pursuing the same strategy.

If a planet has no defensive platforms, the planet itself does not seem to provide a whole lot of actual defensive benefit to the defending fleet.

autoresolve (perversely) seems to target deployed hiver gate ships last, which means they will often be the only survivor of a battle. hmmmm :roll: .

Weapons notes:

Projectile weapons:

There seems to be no "knock back" effect for stock drivers factored into the auto resolve. in attempting to stop morighii blazers i built blazer ships with heavy drivers in the turret section, hoping to knock my enemy around and therefor throw off their targeting. This can work manual, btw. Armor, drive, and blazer type (cutting beams) were equal in tech and numbers were equal on each side, hivers (me, blazer + hv driver) vs morhigi (blazer + beam turret weapon, but more actual cutting beams because crows have more beam mounts on each ship). Hivers lost heavily.

AP drivers and hv drivers do not seem to fair well against blazers of any kind, and seem to be fairly average weapons, at best, against all wps types. They lose heavily on cruisers vs cruisers against hv emitters. :(.

Impactors are shockingly good. In fact, here is bunch of stuff about impactor performance in autoresolve:

1. Impactors vs impactors where one side has jammers and scanners and the other side does not: Side that can see absolutely dominates!

2. impactors vs deflectors: As far as I can see, from autoresolve, deflectors completely counter (hard counter) impactors, rendering them absolutely useless. As a hiver player, this makes me a bit sad, since I've had games were the best - and ONLY! - energy weapons i got were cutting beams and regular plasma cannons.

2a. impactors + shield breakers in the turret slots are still completely countered by deflectors. If I send blazer cruisers with shield breakers with the impactor fleet, the enemy (with deflectors) still takes no damage from impactors.

3. In general, impactors vs most other ship designs tend to inflict huge casualties without taking any damage, or at most minimal damage. As if they were either standing off their targets, or knocking them back.

4. impactors are unbelievably good against grand menaces in autoresolve, IMHO. but then, most things seem to be better than usual against GM on auto resolve.

Energy Weapons:

High level emitter technology seems to be about on par in cruiser fights with HCLs.

HCL are completely dominated by the next blazer tech (lancers?), all other things being equal. Have a two:one attack ratio if you want to win.

HCL seems to be very poor at killing a planet.

small level polarized plasmatic seem to be better than plasma cannons, perhaps because they increase in damage at point blank range, while the opposite happens on stock energy weapons.

AM era polarized plasmatic seem to be completely dominated by comparably leveled blazers, torpedoes, or impactors. They also do not seem to perform as well against armored opponents as blazers, torpedoes, or impactors, which is presumably what they are designed to do :( .

Torpedoes/missiles:

Torpedoes are good at killing planets, and do a lot of damage regardless of enemy "type" (long range or short range ship design). IMHO a good average and versatile weapon. There seems to be no attempt at stand off attacks though in autoresolve for torps (unlike impactors), so faster drives do not seem to help here, and my fusion torpedo cruisers were caught and killed in auto resolve by fission blazer cruisers. Though they did a lot of damage (see my point of being a good general weapon, above). They also seem to be good against planets.

Defenses:

As stated previously, Deflectors seem to be a HARD COUNTER to projectile weapons - in a 30 cr vs 30 cr battle, impactors w scan + jam escorts vs deflector blazers, the impactors did 2000 damage. All 30 were lost.

Armor seems to be very effective, with the more of it, the better (not a deep thought hear, but good to know, right?). I suspect that even 1st level armor offers a significant advantage in auto resolve compared to no armor at all.

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Mecron
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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by Mecron » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:05 pm

very cool post and questions! Though I will say 10 minutes for a 40 ship total fight is VERY anomalous. Was that happening for everyone or was one or two people in particular involved in those fights?

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ivra
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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by ivra » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:49 pm

There might be additional info for auto-resolve here:

http://www.kerberos-productions.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=18281
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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by piratep2r » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:51 pm

Mecron wrote "very cool post and questions! Though I will say 10 minutes for a 40 ship total fight is VERY anomalous. Was that happening for everyone or was one or two people in particular involved in those fights?"


Thanks for replying Mecron, and thanks for reading my post! You, of all people, probably have some useful thoughts on this thread's topic, but I recognize that you are interested in the delay specifically, rather than ship design. Here is an attempt to answer your question:

It seemed to us that the delay on loading the battle built up the more ships were involved in combat regardless of who was involved, in general, but we didn't time it or graph it up until the end… I just happened to be watching the clock for the 13 minute wait, so I knew exactly how long that one took. We started off our game aware of the long load times that (some?) people have observed, and therefor had started with the rule "only one manual resolved fight per turn," but abandoned that with the 13 minute wait. Since we had experienced (without clocking) what seemed to be gradually increasing wait times as fleet sizes naturally went up, after the 13 minute wait, we quit, reloaded, and auto-d from that point on.

To directly answer your questions: yes, it seemed that long and increasing (with fleet size) wait times were experienced across all players, however, there are a lot of variables we did not investigate:

1. We were also using Skype (to talk to each other), but AFAIK not surfing the web. Perhaps this impacted the data transfer rate.
2. We may have had the "other guys" observing some the fights (or I could have been an observer in some of the fights). Maybe this means more data transferred/delay before the fight starts? I know that not every fight was observed by non-participants.
3. Maybe it was a slower connection for some other reason those particular times? We were not monitoring as we were going. I actually don't even know how to do that.
4. The wait times before the one I clocked felt "long" but always loaded. Maybe they were 5 minutes or so long (or more, or less) and our game simply "hung" during the 13 minute episode, leading us to believe it was loading when it was not? If that is the case, maybe it is an anomaly, but the trend sure felt real.
5. Maybe anti-virus software interfered? I use norton, but have it set to allow SOTS access and did not notice any "routine scan" during that time.
6. FYI, At least 3 of our computers are really pretty good, and I simply don't know about the 4th. One is a 1 year old LAN box monster, I use a 2.8ghz 4 gb Ram laptop with graphics card, and the third is a year old gaming desktop (I believe). I think our internet speeds are about 3 in general, though when I just tested mine it was 4 down and 0.5 up (numbers in Mb/s).
7. It might be interesting for us to have a single player involved in a menace fight, with one ally "observing" and see what effect, if any, that had.

I guess, to recap, our group seems to be having a problem with increasing load times (unmeasured, but significant for impatient people) associated with increasing fleet sizes across several plays of SOTS, and had one episode where, after 13 minutes with approx 40 cruisers total involved (and a planet), got frustrated and quit, then reloaded. I suspect all my rambling won't tell you much, but good luck, and thanks for your interest!

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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by piratep2r » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:04 pm

@ivra:

ivra! Hooray! I've totally (of course) already read your thread, and thought it was great! I didn't post there since I felt that you were looking at the tactical uses for auto-resolve as opposed to manual resolve, and I thought my topic was a bit different, since it assumes all auto, all the time (cue rock music). If you want to chime in here, great, and if you know of any other ship design/auto-resolve related threads, please continue sharing. I am glad you reminded me of yours.

I did want to disagree slightly with something you posted, though:

ivra wrote: "2) Auto-resolve does not seem to worry about the time limit. If both you and the enemy have large fleets, you can only kill so many ships because of limited command points. With a 4 minutes limit, in a CR vs CR fight you can manage to kill 2 or possibly 3 waves of enemy ships (about 20 ships). Use auto-resolve if you want to speed things up. I have seen auto-resolve kill as many as 50 enemy CRs. The cost is that you will lose many more of your own ships as well."


Auto resolve, in my experience, HAS TO use some sort of time limit - otherwise one side would always be totally anhiliated. With infinite time, there would be no survivors on one side (or, I guess 2 sides, possibly). I would agree, however, that auto resolve is "really weird" about time... I have not experimented to see if changing the battle length from 60 seconds to 600 seconds affects the outcome, have you? I would say that it seems that way more ships die in autoresolve than normally would be possible in manual, and I wonder if auto simulates instant reinforcement, or all ships on the field at once, or something even stranger.

This may not seem like an important point, but it can be. Last multiplayer game I attacked a larger fleet as humans, took 50% casualties in auto(far more than I would have taken in manual, you are totally right) and then continued deeper into the enemy territory to try and raid his homeworld (did not work, rats). If the first battle had fought to the absolute conclusion this could not have happened, and would make strong border defense even more effective than it already is in autoresolve.

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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by Mecron » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:25 pm

pirate thanks for the great response and yeah I am afraid I am more fixated on performance anomalies and THEN tactics;) Besides your sussing out of how AR functions is very perceptive.

SotS battles dont do a lot of beaming of data to start with just to avoid many of these issues...the games are all in sync with each other in MP so literally all the master machine does is send a brief burst of "load the following..." THe hold up HAS to be either someone with strange pauses in their net traffic (which you probably would have noticed in turn updating if that were the case) or someone has an odd loading issue. If you want to track it down further, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on how loading goes when you play SP and compare the two.

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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by piratep2r » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:43 pm

Mecron wrote: "pirate thanks for the great response and yeah I am afraid I am more fixated on performance anomalies and THEN tactics;) Besides your sussing out of how AR functions is very perceptive.

SotS battles dont do a lot of beaming of data to start with just to avoid many of these issues...the games are all in sync with each other in MP so literally all the master machine does is send a brief burst of "load the following..." THe hold up HAS to be either someone with strange pauses in their net traffic (which you probably would have noticed in turn updating if that were the case) or someone has an odd loading issue. If you want to track it down further, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on how loading goes when you play SP and compare the two."


Huh, that is weird since it sure feels like someone is transferring more data based on the number of ships in a fight, but you would know. Anyway, in all games so far we have had the person with the fastest computer host, which is always the guy with the LAN box. We should try someone else then, and see what that does. Maybe the host's connection is at issue, or the computer itself. We definitely have no issues with turn updating in multiplayer, and none of us have any issues with with SP fight loading, which holds true even in multiplayer since we all have all accidentally clicked manual resolve time-to-time in fighting lesser battles against ai opponents (the swarm, etc).

Anyway, thanks for writing back, and I will check around the forums for more answers about mp combat loading delay. Oh, and I am sure someone has said it somewhere before, and this isn't the place to say this either, but I can't remember any game that I've played in the last 5 years that seemed to be as generally stable as SOTS ANY. Unless the above mentioned event was a crash, I don't think it has ever crashed in sp or mp. Very cool. Very odd.

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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by ivra » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:51 pm

@piratep2r:
I guess I was a little inaccurate in my wordings. Auto-resolve do indeed have a time limit, since there can be surviving ships on both sides. It’s just that the casualties are far greater than what can be achieved in a 4 min. manual battle. I have not experienced much with auto-resolve since I normally like to play all the battles myself. I normally use auto-resolve for only those battles where even the auto-resolve cannot lose (for instance a CR fleet against 3 remaining LDs). But in the game where I forbid myself to do any research at all (just started with 15 techs and that was it), I used it to take down the home world of an AI player, because it would have taken 10-15 turns to do it manually - something I didn’t bother to do.


With regard to your load time issues, I have noticed something that might be of help. This is general info and is true in single player also. At least they are true for my PC (64bits Windows 7 Home Premium, Intel 2.80GHz i7, 6GB RAM, Radeon HD 5800 Series)
1) The load time is far greater if the game is played in a window instead of full screen.
2) The load time is affected by the number of ships present in the battle. Normally it is really quick, but once I had to wait approximately 5 minutes for the battle to load. But that battle had over 300 DEs in it (the attack on the AI home world mentioned above, of which 200 were assault ships).

Sometimes a friend of mine and I play a friendly MP game vs. AIs. The load time is higher if I watch his battles or if he watches mine. More important, in my opinion, is that it is not possible to speed up the time if we watch each other’s battles, so we generally do not use that facility. (Since we are in the same room, it is not so difficult to move and watch each other’s screens :-)) When we fight a common battle against the AI, I have noticed that my ships do not move smooth any more. They wait, then move a bit, then wait, and so on. My computer is far quicker than that of my friend. When watching those common battles on my friend’s computer, the ships move smooth. The time, though, does move too slowly, 1 second of game time takes about 1.5 to 2 seconds in real time.

Eh, should we split this thread in two? One to discuss the Auto-resolve feature, and one to discuss the load time? The latter should probably go to Technical Support.

Edit: I checked the spesifics and the slow battle contained 430 ships, 70 enemy ships and 360 of mine, of which 120 was assault ships.
Last edited by ivra on Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by piratep2r » Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:57 am

@ivra

Uhhhh, "windowed" you say, slows down the game combat loading? Doh! That means I left out important info when I was trying to explain the peculiars of our situation to mecron… since we all play windowed mode all the time so that we can switch easily in and out of Skype. Since it sounds like your computer and mine are fairly comparable, your suggestion may well make a difference for me if it does for you. Given what both you and Mecron say, my friends and I will have to try the next game with a different host and not play in windowed mode. And then try a couple diagnostic experiments to see if I can identify any of the things mecron suggested might be problems.

Anyway, about splitting this thread… maybe we can just drop a link here to some other thread that deals with slowdown in MP loading? Then I can post there (where I should be posting about slow loading anyway) and we can go back to talking about ship design! I am pretty sure such forum threads exist… let me look. (digs around).

Huh. Had a problem with the search feature and couldn't find anything about slowdown in manual resolve for multiplayer, and then I didn't see anything in the first few pages of the technical support section. Since I am fairly new at this, where do you think I should put the link? Technical support? Or multiplayer? Then we can talk only about ship design!

Finally, about your comments on time in auto resolve - I think we are on the same page and I just misunderstood you. Thanks for clarifying! Also, that scenario you describe sounds super hard! Did I read a TAR of yours about it?

Thanks for the comments ivra!

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ivra
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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by ivra » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:04 am

The first scenario was actually easy. The reason was that I gave only myself 15 techs. The single AI did not start with any extra techs. Also a small galaxy of 80 stars helped.

Later I was inspired by ZedF to create a TAR for my second attempt, this time with 3AIs. Both the AIs and I started with 15 techs. The difference this time was that I was allowed to research a new tech every 20th turn. I am not sure the TAR is any good since I have got no feedback at all... ...but at least it was fun to try it out once...

Here is the thread:
http://www.kerberos-productions.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=18312
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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by ZedF » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:13 am

I suspect you got little response for your TAR because people don't want to take time to download and unzip something, they want to read it on the forums. ;)
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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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by Coyote27 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:01 am

ivra2 wrote: The load time is affected by the number of ships present in the battle. Normally it is really quick, but once I had to wait approximately 5 minutes for the battle to load. But that battle had over 300 DEs in it (the attack on the AI home world mentioned above, of which 200 were assault ships).


I seem to recall that it's affected more by the number of different ship designs than actual number of ships - the models for each layout being loaded once and then used for each instance of that design. The AI tends to make twenty or thirty different "marks" of the same basic ship with minor modifications, most human players don't.
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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by Arayn » Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:23 am

Great insights on autoresolve. Now I'm even more tempted to take that road in my current End of Flesh scenario :twisted:

piratep2r wrote:Uhhhh, "windowed" you say, slows down the game combat loading? Doh! That means I left out important info when I was trying to explain the peculiars of our situation to mecron… since we all play windowed mode all the time so that we can switch easily in and out of Skype.


I think you got that wrong. "Windowed" mode usually accelerates loading time.
But at least on my machine, there is a quirk to it:
Loading really becomes fast, if I pull up another window (e.g. browser) in maximized size on top of the Sots window.
Then I usually Alt-Tab back to the Sots window. Interestingly, it will not become visible again until the battle is loaded.
To make sure the battle isn't starting without you, you can add in your profile file under GameOptions the setting AutoPause=True.

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Re: Tips for designing ships for "Auto-Resolve Only" games

Post by nickersonm » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:52 pm

Regarding loading times:

It's quite unusual for loading times to be more than a few minutes, especially for powerful machines; anything larger than that will probably just crash, instead. Are you seeing long loading-screen times for everyone, or load-and-wait times for all but one player? I'll just assume "loading" = "loading screen" for now.

As was mentioned, running full screen will load faster than windowed. If you're running a 64-bit Windows 7 (and also possibly Vista), there's a known problem with running windowed: occasionally, the SotS window will be put into "Not Responding" mode, and loading will take forever. I think this is quite likely your problem; I have never seen loading times of more than a few minutes elsewhere. To fix this, just briefly put SotS into fullscreen mode and then back to windowed. I generally run windowed mode, and just hit Alt+Enter twice once the starting menu loads. This only needs to be done once per program session. Full screen will still load faster, though, so for large battles I hit Alt+Enter during the battle selection screen, let it load fullscreen, and then switch back to windowed for the battle itself.

Another possibility is that you're using other 3D applications or video (usually accelerated with hardware from the 3D portion of your video card) while loading. SotS loading times seem to be extremely sensitive to video card communication load. I suspect this is the reason that windowed mode loads slower, as well, and is also responsible for the behavior Arayn reports (although blocked windowed should be about as fast as fullscreen). Close other 3D applications and pause any video to speed up load times.

Note that there is minimal network traffic during loading; it's mostly your video card and hard disk. Even during battles, network speed should only be a problem if you're on dialup (bandwidth) or satellite (latency). SotS generally seems to use <10kb/s during battles, for me.

Something else that might be helpful is defragmenting sots.gob. I highly recommend contig, a single-file defrag tool. You could also defragment the entire drive SotS resides on, of course, but that takes some times.

- nickersonm

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