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icon3.gif  Tricks of the Trade (long) Fri, 07 November 2003 09:30 Go to next message
overworked is currently offline overworked

 
Lt. Junior Grade

Messages: 403
Registered: November 2002
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Most of the below content comes from an August 1999 post to the rec.games.computer.stars newsgroup by Art Lathrop. He collected a lot of "tricks" and grouped them roughly as beginner, intermediate, and advanced. (Art also has/had a good website directory of Stars!-related sites and should be recognized by all as an important contributor to the Stars community.)

I'll also notate any additional items I add (or major modifications.) I think this article is useful for the forum since it collects a number of interesting ideas and concepts in a single place. Thus, a good addition for the Academy.

- Kurt

=======

Tricks of the Trade
Last Update: August 28, 1999
There are many tactics that players use that use that not everyone knows. I was discussing compiling a list with another web host several months ago. I have organized the tricks into three categories (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). This largely reflects how common the tactic is, how important it
is to learn, and at what level player the advice is aimed. Please note that some of the items included may seem VERY basic; however, they address questions I see commonly on the newsgroup or mistakes I see in games. My goal here is to focus on tactics rather than a comprehensive strategy. Any site(s) that I mention in this have their URLs listed at the end of the
article. My thanks to those who posted replies helping me build the list. <I pulled the URLs.>

Beginner
Boosters - Boosters are small ships that basically act as fuel tanks for your fleets allowing you to move more quickly (mainly for settling planets or moving your population around). Most people just use their long range scouts for this; however, Bill Butler has pointed out that destroyers specially designed for this are much more efficient as fuel tanks. Another option is not to fill privateer transports as fully. These privateers are
more expensive than the destroyers, but they can be used also as transports.

Chaff - Small, cheap ships make good defenses against missiles, as the missile ships will waste their shots attacking these ships instead of your more important ships. The Advanced FAQ has an extensive section on chaff.
You can also find information at the Stars!Web Players Lounge.

<Addition to Chaff>
Chaff works since the Stars! battle engine selects targets based on a targetting formula. This calculation is based on the resource cost and boranium cost of the ship divided by the "toughness" of the target. "Toughness" being total defense points of the target (armor + shields) and taking such effects as computers, jammers, and capital missile double damage against unshielded targets into account. However, the targetting code does not take into account the "overkill" of firing a high damage missile at a 30dp scout; where the extra damage does not pass on to other ships do to the "one missile, one kill" rule.

Thus, the "attractiveness" of any ship design can be calculated. Most chaff designs have a very high rating.
<end Addition>

Efficient Scouting - The fastest path for scouting with penetrating scanners rarely involves a waypoint at a planet. Instead, you should try to set your waypoints so that they are in between planets allowing the largest number to be scanned at any one time. Also, you can improve your speed by deliberately setting waypoints that are at the maximum distance you can
travel one year at a given speed. While this is a little more time consuming than setting one or two waypoints a few hundred light years apart, carefully setting the waypoints will improve your fuel usage and also allow you to scan more planets with fewer ships.

Mineral Packets - Packets kill. A mass driver at your base is not enough. You need to have strong planetary defenses to protect yourself against the faster warp packets. Build defenses on your border worlds before your opponent takes advantage of the situation. Also remember that in-space packets move before production. If you see a pac
...



[Updated on: Mon, 30 April 2012 10:37] by Moderator


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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Fri, 07 November 2003 10:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
LEit is currently offline LEit

 
Lt. Commander

Messages: 879
Registered: April 2003
Location: CT
overworked wrote on Fri, 07 November 2003 09:30

Boosters -

DDs are good booster designs, you should arm them too, the projection of force early will probably be very helpful, and the additional cost is minimal.

Some races should use special ships for boosters:
HE - mini colonizer with fuel tank (use that Settler's Delight).
IS - Fuel Transport ship is great.
SD - Mini layer with no mines and a fuel tank.
JOAT - Scout with tank (the free scanning is not something you should turn down).

Most other races might want to go with the scout for the scanning anyway. If you're in a game without PPS, and even with it, you really need good scouting, especially early to find the good worlds.

overworked wrote on Fri, 07 November 2003 09:30

Efficient Scouting - The fastest path for scouting with penetrating scanners rarely involves a waypoint at a planet.


The problem with this is that people will know you've got pen scanners. If it's early, they know you're either JOAT or SS. They can also see you a lot easier in space then in orbit.

overworked wrote on Fri, 07 November 2003 09:30

Deceptive Naming -


At most this just tends to annoy me. If I can't figure your ships out by name, I'll get into a habit of looking at the design. However, if it messes you up (building the wrong thing) that could be much more costly.

overworked wrote on Fri, 07 November 2003 09:30

Reduced Fuel Consumption -


I have a program to figure this out, I'll have to post it soon.

overworked wrote on Fri, 07 November 2003 09:30

Shielded chaff -


As mentioned on the news group by Iztok, you can make shielded chaff more attractive by damaging it first. Two options: Use the min damage bug to have an ally damage your chaff but not kill them. Overgate them, if you're not IT, some will die however.

[edit - fixed quoting]


[Updated on: Fri, 07 November 2003 10:02]




- LEit

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Fri, 07 November 2003 16:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Kotk

 
Commander

Messages: 1227
Registered: May 2003
I would add just one more newbie tactic not everybody use...
"Low MM scouting" ... Useful for non-joats. Set the scout orders to "colonize" and it choose the best warp itself. Then you can click about 10 planets in a line and done.

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Fri, 07 November 2003 16:58 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Orca

 
Chief Warrant Officer 1

Messages: 148
Registered: June 2003
Location: Orbiting tower at the L5 ...
A few other tips and tricks that can be quite handy:

Don't be afraid to overdrive engines that aren't capable of warp 10 safely if it provides a tactical advantage.

Don't be afraid to overgate if it provides a tactical advantage. (Yes, you CAN gate 20 missile battleships through a 300/500. Or a cruiser through a 100/250.) While it can prove expensive, there are times when it's rather useful. Just be careful never to exceed the limits by 5x.

Lots of little minefields rather than a few large ones. They're harder to sweep - which can provide an extra turn to you unless your opponent chaff sweeps. Highly cloaked galleon-based minelayers (if not SS) can be annoying to sweep, and allow you to more easily lay mines in space. Note that when you do this, you should move immediately after laying any mines to prevent your ships from being shot down when the minefield gives away their location.

When chaff sweeping (assuming you're using frigate chaff), set the speed at warp 10, and send the chaff *past* the target for a better chance of hitting a mine. Picked this one up from LEit. Smile

Build your ships so they're easy to gate. Mobility provides you with enormous flexibility in choosing where and when to strike or defend - as well as makes gathering your production much faster.

Mineral packets: Unless you're a PP, do not use mineral packets for mineral distribution (unless you're distributing them to your enemies at warp 13). Though it's a good idea to evacuate minerals via packet if a world is about to come under attack and you don't have enough freighters to pull everything out. Mineral packets eat 10% of the minerals that are put into the packet - can you really afford a 10% tax on each transfer?

There is no such thing as too many colonists. Even when your empire is maxing out its planets, keep at least a few at 50% to have extra colonists available when your master plan works and leaves you standing over the remains of your enemy's empire.

Scout aggressively. You can't counter a threat you don't know about. A corollary is that you shouldn't trust scan data from penetrating scanners until you've sent a ship to verify there are no cloaked ships in orbit.

Fork enemy planets. If they can't guess where you're going, they can't counter you easily. Which leads to...

Sweep aggressively. Ideally keep all the fields along any point of contact with your opponent swept down to nothing (or as close as you can manage).

Avoid the more expensive standard engines whenever you can - and especially when they're mated to an otherwise cheap vessel (any warship smaller than a battleship, fuel transports and minibombers/b17's. And freighters, though there the flexibility can be worth the cost. But it's something to consider.)

Never EVER leave a base unarmed and unshielded.

Always build a fort over new colonies as soon as you can to prevent casual pop dropping.

When building on a base, rather than splitting like weapons among multiple slots (like the starting starbases), make sure you max out a slot before moving onto the next one. This makes incremental upgrading cheaper.

Make sure your freighters are shielded sufficiently to survive a mine hit (this isn't possible with the medium freighter and you should never use the small freighter).

If you're lucky enough to get the MT Cargo pod, congratulations! Your B17's can now be mine-resistant when stacked.

Race tips:

Never ever reduce the efficiency of your mines. It's just not worth it.

Never have mines more expensive than 4 (and really, they should be 3 unless there are major mitigating circumstances).

Unless you know what you're doing, consider the population efficiency to have only two settings - 1/2500 and 1/1000. Any point gain you get with the intermediate values between those two is outweighed by the loss in speed, and dropping the pop eff below 1/1000 is incredibly expensive.

When you're a JoAT early in the game, planet-hop rather than moving between worlds. And throw at least a bat scanner on your scouts - it shou
...



[Updated on: Fri, 07 November 2003 17:10]




Jesus saves.
Allah forgives.
Cthulhu thinks you'd make a nice sandwich.

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Fri, 07 November 2003 17:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
The Taubat is currently offline The Taubat

 
Officer Cadet 3rd Year

Messages: 263
Registered: December 2002
another uselful tip, take one tech feild normal,even more so when its prop, or elec if your JOAT or SS, if you can spare the 50 points, its well worth it, even more so when you are SS, as they are weak early on.


Royal Sha'a'kar of the Taubat people

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Wed, 12 November 2003 03:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Robert is currently offline Robert

 
Lt. Junior Grade

Messages: 393
Registered: November 2002
Location: Dortmund, Germany
Another Trick:
When chaffsweeping a SD minefield, that is centered at a planet, and you sweep it completely, you will still get damaged by the detonation when being in orbit around the planet. So as SD it can make sense to lay minefields around every planet and detonate them when being attacked.

More SD trick:
Ships will be produced after minefield detonation. So when you are SD and you detonate your own minefield you can be sure the attacker has no chaff, but you got the chaff you built that turn.
SDs can make better use of ISB, cause they will moste likely face less chaff than other PRTs making the ultra more valuable than for other PRTs.

Remember:
1.) Never fight SD
2.) Never ally SD

(stolen from Blue Turbit)



2b v !2b -> ?

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Wed, 12 November 2003 06:35 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Kotk

 
Commander

Messages: 1227
Registered: May 2003
Robert wrote on Wed, 12 November 2003 10:20

1.) Never fight SD



That is not too good a suggestion.

Simply "Never fight SD"? Should one wait until SD die himself of old age? Nope. "Never fight SD on equal grounds" is OK. "Never fight SD if you dont know what you are doing" is also OK.

Consider, "guys lets gang against that SD" diplomacy line gets positive response from most neighbours, because one with brain wants not to ally him. Wink Have toasted SD before and will continue that in the future.



[Updated on: Wed, 12 November 2003 06:37]

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Wed, 12 November 2003 07:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
iztok is currently offline iztok

 
Commander

Messages: 1202
Registered: April 2003
Location: Slovenia, Europe
Hi!
Quote:

1.) Never fight SD

... if he's better then you are;
... if he's bigger then you are;
... if you don't want to invest A LOT of time into killing his layers/sweepers/minefields. Not doing that you're basically giving the initiative to him, and that's the first step to the final defeat.

IMO the last rule applies to fighting ANY PRT.
BR, Iztok



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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Wed, 12 November 2003 08:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sgt. Bulldog is currently offline Sgt. Bulldog

 
Senior Chief Petty Officer

Messages: 88
Registered: November 2002
Location: dk
overworked wrote on Fri, 07 November 2003 09:30


Anti-Chaff Sweeping (added) - A counter tactic to a chaff sweeping attempt is to suddenly set the attacker to "friend" status. The chaff thus transits the minefield without any collisions that will remove mines.



The downside of this is that his warships will also pass through you minefields and reach their target. Since chaffsweeping is mostly (?) used on the same year as the actual attack (or else it pays better to use sweepers), I don't think there's much of a point.

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Wed, 12 November 2003 08:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Robert is currently offline Robert

 
Lt. Junior Grade

Messages: 393
Registered: November 2002
Location: Dortmund, Germany
Never fight SD is ment to be funny and show how annoying and MM intensive this can be...

SD win because people tend to give up the MM war some day, or SD give up some day by themself Cool

Ok, the tricks are still useful in some cases... One I forgot:
it MIGHT make sense for SD to set his enemy to friend to prevent him from chaffsweeping, so he tries to and will still get damaged by the detonation... ok - this has many side effects and is more of a theoretical type... but can be surprising and funny Twisted Evil



2b v !2b -> ?

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Wed, 12 November 2003 09:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
iztok is currently offline iztok

 
Commander

Messages: 1202
Registered: April 2003
Location: Slovenia, Europe
Hi!
Quote:

Since chaffsweeping is mostly (?) used on the same year as the actual attack (or else it pays better to use sweepers), I don't think there's much of a point.


The point is: a SD player decides if there will be chaff in the battle or not, and acts respectively.
Like: he removes all ships from nearby planets and detonates minefields. Opponent attacks one planet, wins the battle (if any), but loses all chaff (and maybe bombers). What can opponent then do without chaff, when he's surrounded by SD's fleets and by minefields the SD player just laid? Still not much of a point? Wink I've faced that situation once. Was painful enough lesson to not repeat it anymore.
BR, Iztok

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Wed, 12 November 2003 10:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
LEit is currently offline LEit

 
Lt. Commander

Messages: 879
Registered: April 2003
Location: CT
Sgt. Bulldog wrote on Wed, 12 November 2003 08:03

The downside of this is that his warships will also pass through you minefields and reach their target. Since chaffsweeping is mostly (?) used on the same year as the actual attack (or else it pays better to use sweepers), I don't think there's much of a point.


If you think some one will chaff sweep, the field isn't going to be there, so it won't affect anything. For an SD if you set them to friend, the chaff will fly through it, and then it will detonate, hitting the whole fleet. Much better then just hitting 20 chaff or so.

I recently used this in a game and not as an SD. I was defending a world (in enemy space) against an alliance of 3 races. One of them didn't have enough of a fleet there to make a big differnece, but the other two could beat me. I had a mine field (std and speed - I'm an IS) they could easily chaff sweep it however. So I set the lowest player to friend, and if they had attacked, his chaff (and fleet) would have flown right through my mines. His allies however, would have to go warp 10 through a speed trap, and probably wouldn't have made it.

Unfortunatly they didn't attack there. Setting the one player to friend for a turn did cause a few problems where I didn't sweep his mines in places I forgot to set orders to attack him, however, in general it didn't cause many problems at all. If he had guessed that and swept all my fields at warp 10 and/or gated ships into my worlds



- LEit

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Wed, 12 November 2003 11:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Orca

 
Chief Warrant Officer 1

Messages: 148
Registered: June 2003
Location: Orbiting tower at the L5 ...
Robert wrote on Wed, 12 November 2003 03:20

Another Trick:
When chaffsweeping a SD minefield, that is centered at a planet, and you sweep it completely, you will still get damaged by the detonation when being in orbit around the planet. So as SD it can make sense to lay minefields around every planet and detonate them when being attacked.

More SD trick:
Ships will be produced after minefield detonation. So when you are SD and you detonate your own minefield you can be sure the attacker has no chaff, but you got the chaff you built that turn.
SDs can make better use of ISB, cause they will moste likely face less chaff than other PRTs making the ultra more valuable than for other PRTs.

Remember:
1.) Never fight SD
2.) Never ally SD

(stolen from Blue Turbit)


Detonation occurs after movement and mine-hit checking, and as such chaff sweeping works vs detonations - I just verified with a testbed.

Your second trick however, does work (a useful one I've used before...)

1.) You can fight an SD, but you must be willing to put more effort into your turn than he is. All other things being equal you'll need more resources and minerals - and more skirmishers to deal with his skirmishers, interceptors and minelayers. Cloaked minelayers can be quite useful in popping up unexpected minefields - granted they aren't anywhere near as effective against an SD, but they still serve to channel and limit his movements.

2.) An SD can be a great ally longterm. But you do NOT want their minefields in your space if you aren't sure you'll be operating with them for a long long time. Fighting off a backstabbing SD while mired in their minefields is well-nigh impossible if they're competent. At the least you'll lose all of your support ships the year of the back-stab and suffer damage elsewhere...

Basically, it's like fighting a WM in that you'll need more resources, more minerals, or more skill to beat them.



Jesus saves.
Allah forgives.
Cthulhu thinks you'd make a nice sandwich.

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Wed, 12 November 2003 19:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Hetzer

 
Chief Warrant Officer 1
Titans of Steel mentor

RIP Hetzer, Nov. 28, 2006

Messages: 139
Registered: November 2002
Location: Hollywood

When playing LEit my suggestion is to 1st destroy his HW and then to dismember him and scatter his pieces to the 4 corners of the universe, it is possible that this may give you time to escape.


If you can't trust me, who can't you trust?

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Sat, 15 November 2003 14:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Zathras is currently offline Zathras

 
Crewman 1st Class

Messages: 32
Registered: September 2003
a few more additions:

* Know your enemies' ship designs

Do your best to know what ships your enenmy is producing. If you spot them during construction and staging, it gives you a few extra turns to analyze the weaknesses and build counter designs. It may be worth a suicide mission of an obsolete ship to see the latest capital ship design. You can also befriend a WM, and ask for information from their component scans

* Setting Battle Orders

This can be tricky. Much has been written, but I find testing the specific situation essential. Appropriate battle orders can turn a defeat, into victory.

* Test Beds

Know that your enemies are comparing their alternatives in test simulations. If it is close, perhaps you should too.

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Sat, 15 November 2003 14:12 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Zathras is currently offline Zathras

 
Crewman 1st Class

Messages: 32
Registered: September 2003
I forgot to mention the most important trick...

Never tell people *all* of your tricks Rolling Eyes

- Zathras

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Sat, 31 July 2004 02:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
asimov is currently offline asimov

 
Crewman 3rd Class

Messages: 5
Registered: July 2004
I'll have to add one i've not seen yet in plain terms, even though orca did beat around the bush: Never do the expected, except when trying to decieve.

You know, now that i think about it, there is a very nice corallary to that tip.... but i think i'll keep it to myself, though i'm sure quite a few (especially orca) have seen me do it time and time again Twisted Evil

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Fri, 06 August 2004 08:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
alric

 
Crewman 1st Class

Messages: 38
Registered: September 2003
asimov wrote on Sat, 31 July 2004 02:22

I'll have to add one i've not seen yet in plain terms, even though orca did beat around the bush: Never do the expected, except when trying to decieve.

You know, now that i think about it, there is a very nice corallary to that tip.... but i think i'll keep it to myself, though i'm sure quite a few (especially orca) have seen me do it time and time again Twisted Evil



Never play against Asimov in a Huge universe Very Happy

Hiya Matey!

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Re: Tricks of the Trade (long) Wed, 25 April 2012 09:11 Go to previous message
Altruist is currently offline Altruist

 
Commander

Messages: 1068
Registered: August 2005
Location: Berlin

It would be good to have this as sticky.

And perhaps players can still add their tips and tricks of the trade.

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