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New Beginner Game has ended Wed, 31 May 2017 11:52 Go to next message
ManicLurch is currently offline ManicLurch

Lt. Junior Grade

Messages: 438
Registered: May 2009
The new Beginner Game has ended.

https://starsautohost.org/sahforum2/index.php?t=msg&th=5 548&start=0&rid=0

Congratulations to the winning team of Altruist and Mijgo.

Please add your game stories.

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beg: From the perspective of the Bizarres (Altruist) Thu, 01 June 2017 16:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Altruist is currently offline Altruist

Lt. Commander

Messages: 998
Registered: August 2005
Location: Berlin

(Since it was a beginner game, I'll discuss some things more in depth as usual plus I'll add some links to further articles.)

Part 1: Prelude: first 25 years, starting locations, alliances, early game
Part 2: War against Zoids/Arelu (Centre War)
Part 3: Battles over the SW-corner
Part 4: War with snth/Roaches (NE-corner)

Part 1: Prelude: first 25 years, starting locations, alliances, early game

I played the Bizarres, allied with the Humanoids, played by mijgo.

Experienced players in a beginner game are, of course, a problem, so the discussion about the game rules agreed that those had to set con and weap to expensive with 150pts to defenses and experienced weren't allowed to ally with each other. Additionally I wasn't allowed to play IT. The game started with 3 beginners and 3 experienced players.

hab: 0.24-7.04 grav, -136 to 184 temp, 67-97 rad (2 wide, rad narrow, altogether 1 in 4)
pop growth: 19%
factories: 12/9/14, germ box checked
mines: 10/3/17
research: all expensive, tech3 at start checked
202 leftover pts to defenses

The race design was a rather standard hyper growth (HG) with the exception that all tech was expensive:
# "Hyper-growth vs. Hyper-producer" by Scott Phelps
# Stars-R-Us Collection: Race Design/Strategy
I decided against setting any of the "minor" tech fields to normal or cheap because I needed the pts and usually follow the idea that those techs can be also researched at expensive or better: stolen from the opponents. Warmonger I chose because it is fun to play, I wasn't allowed to play IT and the starting weap tech for WMs (weap 6 = yakis) provides nice early opportunities as well as a good protection against those players with weapon research cheap (at least during the very beginning).

Used to IT and an often quite worse hab (1 in 7, yes, IT is expensive), I expected a cozy start with lots of greens in my early surroundings and time enough to get up my economy before the newbies would get too trigger happy with their advantage in weapon and perhaps con tech.

2401: first ship on scanners and PRT/LRT/tech analysis
The very first year showed a destroyer (DD) in space from one of my neighbours. That's always a highly interesting thing. Everybody is eager to play but there is nothing really to do that early in a game, so you have all the time you want to make an in depth analysis of the ship:
As a warmonger it is easy because you can see the complete design right away.
But even for other PRTs: At first glance you can't see anything else than the ship hull and the weight. But that tells a lot. A ship on any scanner in 2401, well, there is no way that it was bult, so it must have been one of the starting ships coming with the PRT. Only IT and JoaT start with a DD. And voila, you have your neighbour down to 2 possible PRTs. Juggling around with the weight of the ship (which includes all equipment in the ship although the equipment isn't shown) plus the possible starting techs for IT and JoaT (see the Stars Help file) allows to specify several things with a very high probability:
# JoaT
# probably with a mole scanner (elec 4) which means tech 4 box checked and electronics tech expensive
# probably with organic armor (bio 4) which supports the assumption of tech 4 box checked, bio tech expensive
# Daddy Long Legs 7 engine (prop 5): interesting, not only tech box 4 (and prop expensive) but some LRT that boosts the starting prop tech: Improved Fuel Efficiency (IFE) which also means access to the fuel mizer engine
# usually players who have chosen IFE tend to counter the costs in the race wizard by also chosing No Ram Scoop Engines (NRSE)
# additionally there is only one place where that ship could had started from: the homeworld (HW) which was Sphairos, 323-ly away from my own HW.

Summarized this single ship had told me the following:
Humanoids, m2, JoaT, IFE, NRSE, prop/elec/bio expensive, HW: Sphairos
And obviously the Humanoids were played by one of the beginners who had not thought what all he had given away with the seemingly innocent usage of his starting DD.

As a trigger happy warmonger I marked him for an early kill... *grin
Which again showed that in turn 1 I hadn't thought much about the implications of the game setup and rules.
Luckily a few remaining braincells not all the time humming "I am a warmonger!" convinced me to try to establish communications with the Humanoids and thus I sent an ingame message. Having this achieved those braincells shut down and I think the first message to my other neighbour, the snth, consisted of "Rooaaarrrrr!". It's amazing what this PRT Warmonger does to players.

2404: grim reality and alliance
Eagerly awaiting to see all my green planets I had sent out 5 scouts asap.
In 2404 I looked at my scouted area, put a bit thought into it and realized several things:
My starting NW corner wasn't the expected paradise with plenty of green planets at all: 3 green planets, the best with 46%, 2 with no germ (4% and 21%) and a HW which had started (like everybody's) with 30% germ and no ability to ferry out germ. Actually my starting corner was quite a desolate area. More important I realized that only thru an alliance with a beginner I would get access to cheap weap and hopefully also con tech (perhaps I had even pointed that out myself in the announcement discussion but completly forgotten about it).

I started to see that this was one of my worst start positions ever. I was much too used to playing IT (a habit/handicap which accompied me thru all the game), with the horrible mineral allocation of my available planets logistics would become a nightmare and paired with my race design restrictions and the expensive tech it would take an eternity to reach suitable tech levels for an attack fleet. This game might become not at all a cozy time of bashing around some newbies (or showing some mercy here and there) but one of the most difficult games I had played so far. If I could had placed some bets, I had betted on loosing the game. Mmmh.

On the bright side: Finally the Humanoids had answered my message from turn 1 and we established email communications which after a few messages to and fro led to an alliance. I make alliances for the whole game, I do like to exchange and to discuss everything openly and I hate the paranoia which comes with temporary alliances. Humanoids seemed to be fine with that, so we threw together our data and started exchanging m-files immediatly.

2415: all HWs located
Humanoids did an excellent job scouting, used their full JoaT power paired with lots of scouts, so already in 2415 we had scanned most of the universe and located all HWs.
Additionally in 2413 we had established 2 planets (see grey eclipse) for tech exchange thru mutual conquest: using both each 2 privs allowed us both each 2 conquests and chances for a tech gain per turn: the Humanoids just stayed in orbit of each planet and doing manual WP-0 pop drops each round while my 2 privs were flying between the 2 planets with WP-1 pop drop orders.

Some things we figured out only much later but here our final results (pairs show alliances):

Roaches (vmanuel), m3, WM (light blue, SE corner), experienced, allied with snth6
snth6 (theene), m4, IS (orange, NE corner), beginner, allied with Roaches

Zoids (BackBlast), m6, HE 3-immune (dark blue, centre), experienced, allied with arelu
Arelu (talkingbologna), m1, JoaT (pink, south), beginner, allied with Zoids

Bizarres (Altruist), m5, WM (lime, NW), experienced, allied with Humanoids
Humanoids (mijgo), m2, JoaT (dark green, west) beginner, allied with Bizarres

So our agreed upon game conditions had worked out quite fine: every beginner was paired with an experienced player. Although I am still not sure how this felt for the beginner players: While they surely had a steep learning curve, it is usually much more fun to figure things out yourself or finding the right article and trying to adapt such theoretical knowledge to a "real" game. Any comments?
This mix of veterans and beginners also meant that outguessing any other player was incredibly difficult since it could range from the most canny tricks to simple newbie mistakes but without never knowing before what it would be.
Technical note:
The map was created with the help of the Stars!Notebook (snb_v2xf.zip 258 kb). Besides this very practical map which allows also adding tactical remarks and notes, the Notebook also shows some statistics like total mines on surface, mined per year, factories etc.
As mentioned the Humanoids and Bizarres were exchanging m-files, to make that more comfortable we asked the host to add our email-adresses into the auothost interface and thus both m-files got sent to us automatically. To make better and easier use of the combined data we used the StarsFileMerger (StarsFileMerger.zip, 74kb), a Java based easy to use tool that allows to merge m- and/or h-files. Merging m-files I find personally rather confusing but merging h-files is just great: the way h-merging works leads to planets scanned by the Humanoids being shown in my Stars view with my hab values as if I had scouted them myself.

Back to the game:
Due to the lack of habitable planets I was forced to look for greens at more distant places... sometimes very distant like planet Challenger which was just 80-ly away from the snth-HW: no germ there as well (which would prove deadly) but the best breeder planet I had found so far (a purpose Challenger would never be given the time to serve). Secondarily, of course, a splendid staging point for an attack on snth at some later time. Realistically I didn't expect to keep Challenger that long but you can always hope. At least I thought the snth would freak out when discovering my presence at Challnger (I had secretly sneaked in my colonizer and privs to settle the planet) and would overreact: stopping their economy development to produce at once mediocre ships trying to conquere the planet. Attacks which I imagined to fence easily off with my armed dock (am I a Warmonger or not!? cheapest weapons in the universe!).

Well, as so often in Stars the snth weren't willing to fully cooperate with my plan. I had colonized Challenger in 2415 with 80k pop and some minerals. 2418 snth discovered my presence at Challenger. 2421 Challenger's pop had grown to 190k pop and had fenced off some attacks in previous years but now the snth shot my dock to pieces and simply pop dropped Challenger into nothingness. My last few brave survivors were killed in 2423 and the planet taken over by the snth. Althogether I had this imagined to run differently and probably I had invested more into Challenger than it took snth to conquere the planet, they were probably also happy to take over Challenger's 100 built mines and my oh so precious germanium which I had just managed to drop on Cahllenger with a privateer suicide mission.

So the first battle over a planet between an experienced player and a newbie: 0:1. Mmmh.

Statistically missing habitable planets
On the bright side, I found my statistically missing green planets and lucky enough they weren't somewhere in enemy space but in abundance in my ally's space. While it took my privateers at max speed between 3-5 years to get there and for that they needed every trick with scouts used as fuel boosters, painfullly trying to find the spot where a 163.4-ly distance could be split into 2 times 81.7-ly and using privateers coming back to meet outgoing privs halfway for sharing fuel with them... it was a relief that development would be slow but possible.

For what I mean with slow at max speed here an example: Since my HW was still my only breeder, all pop had to start from there. Planet Forgotten was the farthest planet I colonized from the HW, a rocking 390-ly away but with 56% and good mineral concentrations the planet had the potential to beocme one of my best. So some privs were put into the production line in 2417, started in 2418, met in 2419, 2420 and 2421 with whatever ship I had nearby or coming back to take over every drop of fuel to remain at warp 9 all the way to Forgotten where they arrived in 2423. With exactly enough pop and minerals to build a dock within the very first year of colonization, they fueled up in 2424 and started moving north again. In 2426 they arrived at the formerly colonized planet Leonardo which had just finished building a gate, from there they overgated the distance of 339-ly back to the HW into an orbiting fleet to use the instant repair loophole and voila, in 2427 exactly 10 years and a hell of micromanagement later, they were as "fast" as possbile back.
It was a slow development but worth the effort, in 2450 Forgotten was indeed one of my best planets with now 82% after terraforming and the ability to build 4 CCs per year (without even ferrying minerals to it all the time over distances of 4 years as to so many other planets... did I mention that I usually like to play IT?!).

Another intersting planet was Andromeda, mediocre hab but great minerals. In comparison to Forgotten it was only 289-ly away from my HW which meant a 4-year trip or 8 years including return. The good mineral concentrations meant that Andromeda built only mines at first to allow ferrying urgently needed germ back to the other planets. As welcome and needed this was, it was nevertheless only the secondary reason to colonise Andromeda, the primary reason was its location: a very powerful central location and only 108-ly away from the Zoid HW. This meant before any mines could be built, priority was given to a dock and gate since I was rather sure that the Zoids wouldn't be too happy with my presence there. Andromeda I did not loose (like Challenger) and, indeed, it proved vital for the later game and put a stop to any possible Zoid expansion direction north.

A similar role played planet Leo, 339-ly away from my HW, 242-ly away from the Zoid HW, colonized primarily to put a stop to their western expansion.

Starting positions and assessment for the other players
Around the dark blue Zoid area you can see some planets marked with a red 6 (for m6=zoids). At that time we weren't sure wether zoids were 2- or 3-immune and the numbers mark planets which would had been of high interest to the zoids if they were 2-immune. Obviously we marked those planets to had a keen eye on them and planned to try to deny the zoids access to them.

After I have been complaining at length over my apparent different starting position, let's look at some other players' starting positions.

The importance of assessing wether the Zoids were 2- or 3-immune are the usually completly different other race design features which go together with it:
  • 3-immune HEs are one of the earliest developed monsters with hyper-production (HP) settings, the ability to build lots of factories and mines but with a low pop growth of 6% (which is doubled for an HE and translates into 12%). So they are slow developers, very vulnerable early on and prosper best if in a remote safe corner until they become fierce monsters.
  • 2-immune HEs are often of a relatively new sub-type which ccmaster developed and follow exactly the opposite logic, very high pop growth, very early very strong and if one can't stop them very early they tend to roll over you like a tsunami
What both HE types have in common, this starting position in the centre is awful for them. The slow developer would be right in the centre spot of attention from everywhere while the fast developer needs lots of accessible planets to prosper but there right in the centre was only a small band going west and east with rather big empty gaps to the north and south.
The strategy AGAINST both HE-types is the same: Try to smash them asap or watch them winning.

Sidenote: Only much later, as a matter of fact not before the game was finished and the Zoids allowed access to their m-file, I realized that the Zoids race design was neither of the above 2 designs but a hybrid with rather bad factory settings to allow raising the pop growth from 6 to 7%.

Arelu starting position:
Far down south the Arelu HW had a quite lonely location. But with great opportunities to the SW-corner with lots of planets for which they would be in a race with the Humanoids and another crowd of stars to the SE corner in direct contest with the Roaches. Unfortunate for the Arelu was that they hadn't taken IFE and the great fuel mizer (nor prop cheap we had the impression), so they were slowed down by bad and slow engines and thus arrived late enough in the SW-corner to find themselves immediatly attacked by the Humanoids. To the SE, though, and to our astonishment it seemed possible for the Roaches and Arelu to intersettle happily and safely. We did not notice a single fight. Were there any? Or an agreed or defacto NAP (non-agression-pact)?

While the snth seemed to be in a good starting position, something seemd to be amiss there, too. For a very long time it looked like they had only 2 planets: their HW and at the far eastern edge Scanda, both planets heavily populated. Perhaps a very narrow hab range in the race design?

Nevertheless, assessing and figuring out that it looked like almost everybody in the universe had to bear problems with the starting locations gave me a bit hope not to get compeltly trampled... and, of course, having found an ally with really superb starting conditions.

Randomness of starting positions and hab draw
There is always much complain about the randomness of a Stars universe and I have done my fair share or this for sure, too. But when I have a choice between this ransdomness and settings for which hosts sometimes spent much and painstaking work to even everything out... I prefer the randomness and to be completly honest I even like it. It adds a lot spice to the game. You go into a game with a carefully chosen race design and after some games under the belt you have also already in mind what strategy and early game you expect to come with that and then you are thrown into the randomly created universe and realise... you can throw everything into the trash can and need to adapt and change everything dramatically or you go down.

One of the reasons I wrote at length about the early development problems of the Bizarres: I tried to show 2 things. Yes, a bad starting location leads usually to a bad early development and if you try to adapt, in this case by sending out priv-groups for upto 10 years, this costs a lot resources and initially slows you down even more. And sometimes, after all the effort, the only result are resources thrown out of the window because you even loose those planets like I did with Challenger. But on the other hand you usually also gain something special: space and locations. The reason I mentioned for some colonized planets the distances from my HW and to enemy HWs was to show how much space you gain and how close you might get to the enemy core. Ok, the vast space is only sparsely settled but you gain great staging locations as much as contain your neighbours because they have a much smaller space available.

So the story could also be told as: If I had found all those many green planets around my HW, I might had been busy colonizing and developing those and wouldn't had cared about Andro, Leo or Forgotten. This again would had allowed the Zoids to expand much easier, establishing intersettlement with their ally to get up a gate network, growing and getting as strong as perhaps to a point where we wouldn't had been able to stop them anylonger. You are probably getting my point, there are always 2 sides of a coin and thus one could as well complain about the difficult starting positions as thinking that without those specific problems we might have lost instead of won the game.

In our case it worked out really very well, because I had the starting problems and was forced to "boldly go where noone has gone before" while my ally had a superb start, excellent development and thus the resources to back it up if that proved necessary.

[Updated on: Thu, 01 June 2017 17:13]

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Re: New Beginner Game has ended Thu, 01 June 2017 19:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
talkingbologna is currently offline talkingbologna

Petty Officer 3rd Class

Messages: 43
Registered: November 2016
Location: Bologna Heaven
Arelulelileilou - Slight alteration of a race name in Star Control II
JoAT 19%

G Imm
T -156 to -20 degC
R 48 to 84 mR


Weapons -50%
All Else +75%
Starts at 4

My report won't be nearly as full as yours, Altruist, but these are some things I learned:

- I should have designed a much quicker race.

- Should have kept colonist efficiency at 1/1000.

- Living without IFE had me putting way too much iron/resources into escort fuelers; the speed wasn't necessarily an issue, in my opinion, as I learned a lot about how to set a fleet's speed to what, when.

- I didn't keep up well with trading tech to the Zoids (I forgot a lot of the time). We also didn't start tech trading till fairly late: maybe 2425-30? I don't really remember.

- Research for war much earlier, I didn't start till we were just about ready to trade.

- Brandon and I didn't realize how to combine fleets till too late.

- Should not have chosen OBRM with my hab.

- Near the beginning, I produced 6 mine layer scout designs which ate up time and iron. I was afraid of SS or WM making breakfast out of me.

- I didn't really have good hab settings. There was one good green right next door, but the next two were 158 and 219ly away, respectively. I was lucky, though, since Victor was half the map away from me and was far more peaceful than Altruist seems to have been. The next nearest were Sol, at 232ly, and Stonehenge, at 267. Other than that, it was a huge field of red dots across the whole of the southern half of the universe.

- Had I the IFE LRT, I should have pushed out and grabbed a few further planets first, then back filled. This would have netted me some of Victor's space, instead of his having claimed those planets before my colonists made it. Stonehenge might even have been better defended by the time the Humanoids arrived.

- In play style, I still don't understand what goals a race should play to, except to get a big economy, fast, and build warships before the enemy does. Whole Game Strategy is Greek to me.

- I should have sent a large fleet to Stonehenge with the colonizers, so it wouldn't have been taken from me in the first place (or not nearly so easily).

- I should have stuck with small colonizers as my main new-planet grabbers, rather than the iron hungry privs.

- Had I built a fleet and attacked the Moon Roaches earlier, I might have acquired another green or two, but I was worried about weakening myself, being between them and the Humanoids.

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Re: New Beginner Game has ended Fri, 02 June 2017 11:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ManicLurch is currently offline ManicLurch

Lt. Junior Grade

Messages: 438
Registered: May 2009
Just a few thoughts.

Should have kept colonist efficiency at 1/1000.

Definitely. As the host of this beginner game, I noticed this in your race design and almost advised you to revise your race to 1/1000. I didn't in the end because I thought the lesson would stick if learned the hard way.

As far as living without IFE, with ISB it can be done. But IFE is easier for sure.

Should not have chosen OBRM with my hab

This game was a small universe, and would likely not be a long game. So OBRM makes sense here. In this game setup, you likely would not have had time to make good use of remote miners.

It sounds like you learned a lot, which is the point Smile

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Part 2: War against Zoids/Arelu Wed, 07 June 2017 16:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Altruist is currently offline Altruist

Lt. Commander

Messages: 998
Registered: August 2005
Location: Berlin

(As above I'll describe some things in detail which for the experienced might be routine and a bit boring but for the bginner new and obscure like how to calculate the size of your first attack fleet and some example ship designs.)

Part 2: War against Zoids/Arelu (Centre War)

The Zoid problem
In 2416 we verifyed that the Zoids were 3-immune. A bit later we saw that despite an assumed very low pop growth they were busily expanding and obviously putting quite an effort into optimizing their pop growth and pop transport to more and more colonies. In 2426 their ally, the Arelus, had colonized 2 planets in the centre... absolutely no good because that would give them not only direct contact but would give the Zoids also access to gates. The absence of gates is THE weak spot of all HEs, if that weak spot is successfully overcome by an ally intersettling and providing a gate network we had all reasons to worry.
SB/Do/F: Starbase/Dock/Fort
Green circles: habitable for Bizarres
Blue lines: wormholes (which became big trouble and led to 20 years of fierce battles in the SW-corner still ongoing in 2450 but that's another story and best told by the Humanoids who did all this fighting)

I assumed the Zoids to be a 3-immune-HE-monster of old with the ability to build at least 20 factories per 10k pop. Almost every Zoid planet was at 125k pop (the ideal 25% cap for HEs), busily exporting pop, with the assumed factory settings the prodcution power of such a planet was an estimated 500. As a tri-immune every planet was 100% habitalbe for the Zoids. You can easily see where that leads to when the Zoids growth wouldn't be checked and why above I had already written that the best strategy against HEs is: Try to smash them asap or watch them winning.
Humanoids and I were both playing HG-races which were, if I recall correctly, specifically invented as an answere to the old 3-immune HE monster. Having one of those old beasts in our universe felt like being part of an old order tasked with an ancient mission.
Thus several important criteria for an early attack fleet were met: there were green planets in the space to be attacked, we judged it smart to attack the HE and, of course, ancient Stars myth was clearly on our side.
So in the mid 20ies we decided that we needed to attack the Zoids first and soon.
Small excursion:
As it turned out we were wrong about the Zoids' race design because it was neither a typical 2-immune nor a 3-immune but a kind of hybrid: 3-immune but with rather mediocre factory/mine settings to gain 7% instead of 6% pop growth. Wether an HE has 6 or 7% pop growth is almost impossible to find out: Scanners show pop on planets only within +/-20% accuracy and the Zoids were transporting pop all the time. Their true number of buildings was also very difficult to figure out because they built defenses and we answered with more bombers and most of the time overbombed the planets and thus got either none or inaccurate reports how many buildings we had actually destroyed. We realized our error in assessing the Zoids race design only after the game when the Zoids allowed access to their m-file and race design.

The preliminary thoughts when and whom to attack I have once written down here:
# War: Assembling your first Fleet for Conquest (destroyer and cruiser era)
The earlier you attack the more important the questions raised there because resources are scarce. Building an attack fleet will stop you from developing your economy, so most definetly you will fall behind in relation to the other players. If your attacks succeed, your gains in looted minerals, gained planets, tech and position should outweigh this (or you shouldn't attack). But if you fail, you'll have gained nothing but nevertheless fallen behind and probably made yourself a very dedicated enemy.

Warship design
The first warship available and capable to do what we had in mind was a simple destroyer (DD). Early on DDs fare quite ok in comparison to cruisers (CC). A real danger to any DDs are much more frigates (FF) than CCs. But FFs have a weakness against station- or dockbased torps and suffer too much losses. All Zoid planets had docks.
Necessary tech: bazooka (weap 8), wolverine shield (en 6), the rest was starting tech for us.
Simple, cheap, easy to gate, due to the fuel pod with a long range and able to share fuel with the minibombers. No armor because armor is expensive, slows down the battlespeed and the survivability of a DD-stack comes not with armor but with a good sized stack and the shields (true at least until the missile era starts). A WM gets 0.5 bonus to battle speed (BS) which makes this DD design having a BS of 1.5 (movement on the battleboard: 2-1-2-1..., see Stars-help file: Guts of Combat: Movement...my most used help page and bookmarked). The changing battlespeed wether the DDs were in my WM or Humanoids hands offered a possible tactical option if the need would arise. Another fine thing about this simple DD design, it ages quite well because it can be used as a multi-purpose ship for a long time: in big stacks and early on as a planetary attack fleet, solo as skirmisher and in small groups as very efficient minesweepers.

You need at least 41 m70-minibombers (more if you expect to bomb vs defenses) which add up to 41 x 2 x 1.2% = 98.4% bombing power. Ideally you kill the few remaining enemy colonists with a WP-1 pop-drop in the very same round which allows you to conquere the planet, might allow you to steal some tech and to load up all the minerals of the planet without the usage of a colonizer... and then you move on to the next target right away.

Size of DD stack
To calculate how big our stack of DDs should be, I used some simple rules of thumb:
  • capable to shoot down a fully armed/shielded/armored dock with 2 shots (=2 battle rounds)
  • the DDs need to get into shooting range (WM-DDs get into shooting range in the 3rd battle round)
  • the stack needs to survive this task with minimal or no damage, so the shield-stack should be high enough to suck up all the damage by the defending dock (this was important because we planned not ot attack one planet but the fleet was supposed to attack one planet after another in which case you can't afford to accumulate too much damage)
  • our target dock we assumed to be equipped with better weapons than our bazooka(weap8)-DDs: with range-3-colloidals (weap 10) but hoped for not much better shields (wolverine, en6)
After calculating a bit, I came up with 60 DDs. Here the steps to get there (there are for sure more elaborate ways to calculate it, this is the one for minimal math knowledge everybody possesses):
  1. Fully shielded/armored dock meant in the case of Zoids with RS: 48 wolverine 60 shields multiplied with 40% for RS and another 10% to include the actual regeneration between our DDs' shot 1 and 2... plus the 250 base armor of a dock, altogether 4686.
  2. Every laser (phaser, beam... all those expressions are used) looses a bit of its full damage when not shooting at range zero, at range 2 a bazooka shoots at about 90% efficiency, so the full bazooka damage of 26 is rather 23, every DD is quipped with 2 bazookas (=46 dm), so it's a simple calcuation:
    4686 dock / 46dm / 2 rounds = 51 DDs
    Our 51 DDs are equipped with wolverine 60 shields multiplied with 1.4 RS = 4284 shields
  3. Now we will do the check how much damage the DDs might have to suck up from the dock:
    As mentioned we assumed weap 10 colloidal phasers with range 3, a dock can feature 48 of those. The dock has also higher initiative and shoots first. Additionally every weapon on a dock or starbase has a bonus of +1 to the standard weapon range, so a colloidal can actually shoot at our DDs already at range 4 (which in this example happens in battle round 2). Altogther the dock can fire upon our DDs 3 times before it is hopefully destroyed. To make it easier and to gain a safety margin, we assume lesser laser efficiency only for our DDs but not for the dock:
    48 colloidals x 26dm x 3 rounds = 3744 damage
Voila, 51 DDs do the job and have enough shields to suck up all damage. As a matter of fact our DDs have also RS and thus regenerate shields inbetween shots. We'll leave that out here to make it simpler and to gain another safety margin. But the Zoids could also use delta torpedos which might let us loose some DDs, some of the shielding might be brought down by defending ships, so we rounded the 51 up to 60 DDs and this plus the already included safety margin here and there looked to us like a good sized stack we felt comfortable with.

Small excursion:

In my previous game I was playing IT, my ally was WM, competition extremely fierce, so we used every advantage possible which meant that all warships were transfered to my WM-ally for actual fighting. In this beginner game we did the opposite and, after our first fleet was built, decided to transfer all ships to my ally: the JoaT Humanoids. After all there is no better practice than practice. What I completly forgot: all calculations were made for a WM with RS but my ally was neither WM nor had he RS... which does make a difference.
There is much talk what RS and WM boni are actually worth and usually one thinks only about the 25% cheaper weapons which is rather feeble. So here another view upon it:
For a WM with RS our above calculation led to 51 DDs being sufficient.
For a JoaT without RS the same calculations as above lead to: 84 DDs.

Supply and auxiliary ships
The Zoids were starting build minelayers, so we needed an advance group of minesweepers. That was my job, the WM speed gives a great advantage. As already mentioned our DD was a multi-purpose ship, thus we were able to use it also for minesweeping. In the beginning we used an additional 10 DDs for this task.

Freighters: Pop-drops, colonizing and/or filling up conquered habitable planets with pop and that quite far away needed a lot of freighters which then again were used to ferry looted minerals back to the production planets which were still especially starving for germanium.

Scouts: We used lots of those, Humanoids but also mine, in general they were dieing like flies in a snow storm because soon enough the Zoids built a dedicated WM-scout hunter which I countered with a FF scout with WM BS of 2.5 which again led to a even faster dedicated Zoid hunter design but not before they reached cruiser tech.

Fleet production
In 2426 we started production. For the purpose of transfering ships and thus combining our production power we decided to use both identical warship and bomber designs. It was a nice idea and we, indeed, used identical designs but tech transfer was a bit lagging and in 2426 the Humanoids hadn't received en6 for the wolverine shields yet and weren't able to build our aimed for DD-design. Sometimes in Stars the years crawl and sometimes you get the urgent feeling that speed is of essence and every year counts. The idea of an early attack is not to get into heroic big battles but to surprise the enemy, to find him unprepared, with a low number of warships and those scattered and not stacked. So it is a very good idea to build your fleet as fast (to use every possible resource for ship production) and as secretly as possible and to put an immense effort into hunting down enemy scouts.

You can see the risk of building an early fleet when you compare our production base and the costs (without scouts, freighters):
The Humanoid economy was up to the task, the Bizarre economy, though,... not really to be honest. But on the other hand I am always getting very nervous when I haven't tried to conquere the first enemy HW around 2430 and we were rather late for that. Thus it took me 3 years to build 70 DDs, 1 more year for gating and transfering to the assembling point: Leopold. My economy had been lagging behind already before going on a building spray, now I was seriously falling behind and probably the Zoids passed me in ranks and the Bizarrres dropped to rank 3.

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Part 2b: The dance begins Wed, 07 June 2017 16:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Altruist is currently offline Altruist

Lt. Commander

Messages: 998
Registered: August 2005
Location: Berlin

Fleet Leo: The dance begins
However optimized our HG-designs were once meant to be to fight those HE monsters, the vast and fast development of the Zoids instilled us rather with awe. Additionally to the dark blue Zoid territory, we assumed also all those planets already colonized by the Zoids with red circles and a 6 next to it. And colonized meant usually filled up to the optimal 125k pop for HEs.

The arrows show the planned route for Fleet Leo starting at its namegiving planet Leopold. Prime targets were, of course, the Arelu planets Morgan and Gordon due to their ability to build gates. It was a mixed blessing when in 2427 a large comet crashed into Gordon, it reduced the Arelu pop considerably but unfortunately (from our perspective) some survived and it also provided the Arelu/Zoids with vast mountains of minerals and a planet with mineral concentration of 107-171%.
Mine sweeping worked swift and smoothly, the Zoids had nothing what could kill my DDs when set to disengage.
Fleet Leo, under the command of the Humanoids, attacked and razed one planet after another... but it took longer than hoped for. As surprised and unprepared the Zoids were, soon they applied a very effective tactic of evacuating most of the minerals and excess pop but leaving enough to build heavy defenses. That slowed down Fleet Leo and it took time to reinforce the bombers (from 42 to 66 mm70 in 2434). Humanoids used additional pop drops to speed up the conquest process, but in 2435 we were already lagging behind a year and not at Mallard as hoped for.

2nd Fleet: Where to deploy?
For the Bizarres it would had been the smart thing to get their feeble economy developed and completly crazy to build another fleet. For one year I developed my economy, then I build another fleet. It wasn't completly decided against whom this fleet should be deployed. It was a kind of backup fleet if our Zoid campaign got into troubles. On the other hand I had done something rather stupid and had repeatedly poked and angered the snth, just couldn't resist using chances when I saw them and now it seemed more and more as if I had poked into a hornet's nest: my eastern neighbour was clearly stirred up and moving closer towards my core planets while busily building an own bazooka DD design and preparing for an attack.
In 2432 I had finished building another 77 DD Baz, the Humanoids providing the bombers again and a decision needed to be made:

a) I wasn't really sure wether an attack on the snth HW would be successful. They were already building warships, would see my fleet in advance which would give them at least 2 years of preparations (if they hadn't seen it already). So chances weren't too bright.
b) If my fleet would succeed, I noticed that I wouldn't really feel happy about this, either. The snth hadn't many developed planets, loosing their HW would more or less finish their game in the mid 30ies... definetly not in the spirit of a beginner game and the snth were beginners.
c) As successfully as the Humanoids commanded Fleet Leo thru all obstacles from conquest to conquest, the Zoids' space was big and their growth rate seemed impressive enough to at least settle one new planet for each lost one. We were still horribly outgunning Zoids/Arelu and with better tech. But my scouts showed an eery production silence on the major Zoid planets nor much from the Arelu, indicating that they were heavily researching to answere our attack with a proper warship soon.

Then I also remembered, a bit late, that the most basic strategy includes that you should NOT put yourself into several wars at once if you can somehow avoid it. So I asked the Humanoids what they thought about a bit support against the Zoids/Arelu with a 2nd fleet which was answered with a big sigh and "Yes!". Obviously they had made those conclusions a bit faster than me but were much too polite to tell an "experienced" player what would be the obvious better strategic decision.

Fleet Andro: Attacking the Zoid HW
Planet Andromeda, namegiver to this 2nd fleet, was an excellent staging point from which to strike directly against the core of the Zoids and to attack their HW. Fleet Andro left planet Andromeda in 2433, it took 2 years to reach Replica, Zoid HW, which was smoothly conquered in 2435, the loot was a rocking 2900kt minerals and propulsion tech 6.

And now the Zoids made in our perspective a huge tactical mistake, instead of only evacuating minerals and excess pop, they started to evacuate whole planets which where in threat range of our fleets, from 2435 to 2436 alone 3 planets: Mallard, Waco and Hurl. A mistake due to several reasons:
# the production or research power was immediatly lost to the Zoids
# our bombing fleets weren't stopped or slowed down by defenses
# and worst: all three planets were habitable by the Bizarres and since they were evacuated all factories and mines were still intact
After colonisation this gave me instantly developed planets which could not only build docks and gates but with also quite some heavy armament. Minerals in the centre were less of a problem because as much as the Zoids tried to evacuate, there were still enough "leftovers". In 2436 more than half of my 33 privateers together with the first LFs were deployed in the Zoid campaign bringing in several hundret thousand colonists to the front lines and ferrying conquered minerals to newly acclaimed colonies and even more back to my always hungry northern planets.

Gordon: Standoff
The Zoid space was filled by all our auxiliary and supply ships that 2 operating fleets keep busy and I wonder what the snth and roaches thought of it. Nevertheless we ran into problems. Since several turns our main target what we tried to reach and conquere was the Arelu planet Gordon. With Gordon down the whole centre would be without gates and only a mopping up. Zoids and Arelu clearly saw that, too, and tried to defend Gordon at all costs. By now the Arelu/Zoids were massbuilding several designs. One very weird with blackjacks and I still wonder for what tactic they thought it useful:
The lower 3 designs, though, were quite deadly for our DD Baz.
While it would had been better to build a shared identical FF baz design, the Zoids had the problem that they hadn't en 6, so they couldn't. FFs have higher initiative and shoot before our DDs, double shields, more bazookas per ship while even a bit cheaper than our DDs. Perfect for defense and space fights vs our DD Baz and clearly superiour.

We hoped to be faster with our attack against Gordon than Arelu/Zoids could gather enough of their FFs. Now was the time to use every advantage and thus we merged our both fleets into my WM hands and by this giving them better battle speed and better shields (RS). As you can see on the map, the campaign against the Zoids had been running quite successfully. There was an unchecked snth/Roaches fleet to the north and lots of newly colonized planets by the Arelu, Zoids and even Roaches in the SW-corner.

# big dashed circles show our fleets (white) and enemy fleets (red), radius = threat area

In 2437 we had merged our fleets: 120 DD Baz, 22 FF with sappers, an overkill of 128 m70-minibombers. Quite impressive we thought.

Until we counted the enemy ships:
94 Security Z (FF baz)
41 Zif (FF baz)
19 Security Y (FF sapper)
24 old DD with xrays
21 old FF with xrays
and my scouts saw the Arelu trying to pass weap 10 to Zoids via tech scrappers which meant that the Arelu defending dock at Gordon would be surely outfitted with weap 10 tech.

They had been busy, indeed, we were clearly outgunned and suddenly we found ourselved in the position that the Zoid/Arelu had gained space supremacy and we might find ourselves the hunted or our fleet destroyed if not acting very carefully. To make things worse, at my eastern border snth/roaches had just swept the mines of my planet Whistler and although they had showed up with a weird mixup of ships they obviously planned to attack.

We didn't really know what to do.
The fleet was a bit short of fuel, so we moved it to Waco which by now had also a gate. If the Arelu/Zoids had attacked us there, it would had resulted in quite a big battle and losses on both sides high but probably with a victory for the Arelu/Zoids. But we assessed this "chance" as being very low because they in turn expected us to attack Gordon and couldn't risk moving away the forces to defend it.

In 2438 I had brought in also some FF yakis, looks weird but they were very cheap, with higher initiatve and with a big chance to move last due to their low weight. At this time we were VERY tempted to just throw everything against Gordon and to look what would be left after the battle dust clears.

After looking long and hard at our tactical map and 3 plans later (1st was the above, 2nd was worse), I came up with the following conclusions and suggestions:

(more later and perhaps a bit less epical *grin)

[Updated on: Thu, 08 June 2017 08:59]

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Re: Part 2b: The dance begins Tue, 13 June 2017 06:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
iztok is currently offline iztok


Messages: 1180
Registered: April 2003
Location: Slovenia, Europe
Good read. Thumbs Up Please continue.
[Edit]The counter for bazooka FFs are sappers, but you didn't use them. No tech or no minerals?

[Updated on: Tue, 13 June 2017 06:45]

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Re: Part 2b: The dance begins Tue, 13 June 2017 11:19 Go to previous message
Altruist is currently offline Altruist

Lt. Commander

Messages: 998
Registered: August 2005
Location: Berlin
iztok wrote on Tue, 13 June 2017 12:43
Good read. Thumbs Up Please continue.

Thanks, will try. It just takes a surprising eternity to formulate, formate, get up the images and then to wipe out the zillion typos.

[Edit]The counter for bazooka FFs are sappers, but you didn't use them. No tech or no minerals?

Of course, and we had sappers and they were of great usage. We also could had produced more. But that solves the problem only upto a point.

The true problem is initiative. Those bazooka FFs always shoot before our DDs. As long as our DDs had to fight only a handful of enemy FFs, that was ok and they were able to just suck up the damage. But with those bazooka FFs coming up in great number plus the Zoid/Arelu also using sappers, this first bazooka shot would be quite devasting.

That left us with 2 problems:
1) bringing in a LOT more sappers which takes time
2) And even then our DDs suffering huge losses due to the FFs shooting first.

So even with enough sappers on our side, the result would had been a really great bloodbath and losses on both sides extreme but the outcome in the described scenario definetly leading us to loose our complete fleet. Building more DDs, which again would had taken time, wasn't a good path to follow because it is never a good thing to produce more of an old design when it is obviously getting outdated. And obvioulsy the enemy wouldn't just stay idle.

There are ways to cope with such a situation but all take time and came down to: at this point we were (at least for the moment) outgunned and Gordon, the target we so very much would had seen wiped out, out of our reach and not only well defended but even with enough firepower to go into the offense to hunt down our fleet.

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