Well that would have been quick

Well that would have been quick

Zed
Zed

March 26th, 2004, 2:55 am #1

Playing Bulrathi, in a small Impossible game with 5 opponents, I just had the option to win by vote in 2350. It seems the Sakkra and I were the two largest races in the game after 50 turns, and the Sakkra had already managed to get themselves at war with pretty much everyone.

It's not often you get the option to win on Impossible with only 14 total votes in the entire galaxy; certainly not if you aren't playing Humans. I would have had 10, had I voted for myself. I declined -- after all, the night is young, and I have Psilons to crush!
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Zed
Zed

March 26th, 2004, 5:19 am #2

Maybe the game is trying to tell me I should take cheap diplo wins when I have the chance.

This has turned into one very frustrating game. Every time I think the situation has stabilized and I can start to make some actual PROGRESS, some new fire comes up that I have to fight.

First, the Klackons poach one of my newly settled worlds that I'm not ready to defend yet. OK, I can deal with that. Next, despite the fact that they are at war with everyone else, the Sakkra decide they have to come pester me too. I have to spend a ton of resources building small ships to fight them off, which stunts my growth curve. I find that there's no cleanup tech in my tree until Reduced waste 60%, no robotic controls III, and no soil enrichment, so I'm kinda hurting for early economic boosters. This combined with a higher than average military spend means that I'm falling significantly behind in tech. The fact that the Sakkra occasionally manage to put together a big enough stack to wipe out all the factories on a planet so I have to rebuild it from scratch doesn't help.

Finally I manage to get ahold of some planetary shields and a decent missile tech (scatter pack V) so I start being able to build some useful defensive bases. Of course, the other guys are rocketing up the weapons tech tree so I'm still not entirely secure, but I start to be able to put a significant investment in tech. Robotic controls IV is in my tree, so I beeline for that to try to get my sad economy going a little better. Once those are built, I figure I can build some Stinger missile boats to go after the small fry. Then, out of the blue, the Psilons, who I'd been friendly with the whole game, decide I've got too many ships on the border and declare war. Umm, I hate to break it to you guys, but this is a small map -- the entire map IS the border. So now I've got the tech gods to worry about as well. That wouldn't be so bad, except a space crystal shows up, and guess who it decides to go after! If half the galaxy didn't decide to try and attack my worlds while the crystal was in orbit, I'd be fine... but of course that's exactly what they do, and one colony gets auto-destroyed. I'm about to lose another colony, and I only had 5 to start with. My fleet is missile-based, so I can't put a dent in the crystal, and I don't have any decent guns either. Sux to be me...

I'm hanging in there, but I just can't seem to get a break! Aargh!
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Sirian
Sirian

March 26th, 2004, 5:53 am #3

Maybe the game is trying to tell me I should take cheap diplo wins when I have the chance.

That's a matter of choice. Winning on the first vote is only possible if fortune lines things in your favor. Like, a top rival who has already ticked off the rest of the galaxy. You still have to be one of the two largest civs to be nominated, though. So it's more like "luck is the result of thorough preparation" than being handed a victory on a silver platter. If opportunity knocks and nobody answers, what good does that do you? Likewise, why let good fortunes and rare cosmic alignments bring a premature end to an interesting map?

I can't blame you for pursuing a higher challenge. If you fail, I'm sure it won't be the first loss you've had where you could have had a diplo win and passed. I know I've racked up plenty of those. In fact, my record with even the Mrrshans is better than 50% if we discount losses where I passed on a winning election.

I still play on Hard sometimes, too. And still lose.


- Sirian
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Zed
Zed

March 28th, 2004, 7:19 am #4

Nothing so ambitious as what Sirian puts together. I still haven't bothered to figure out how to take screenies either. I probably just need to download a screen capture program since I am running under XP.

Anyway, after getting worked over in the Bulrathi game by the space crystal, I played another couple games. I wanted to try something a bit easier (still not in Klackon-land though) and tried Sakkra, again small/impossible/5 opponents. The first game I drew was pretty simple, none of my neighbors wanted to expand out of their home planets despite having the range to do so. I wound up with about 5 planets straight off the bat, with easy backyard expansion for 2 more once range tech came in, and another one once Inferno environment came in. Everyone else had at most 3 planets, usually less. Easy game as a result, massive tech lead early on and never looking back. Even the Psilons couldn't keep up.

So, too easy a start; I tried again. This time I started in the corner, and again had access to a few planets off the bat, but not quite as nice ones this time -- an 85, a couple 40s, and a 115 poor. I quickly snatched those up, then ran into a wall -- I was surrounded by toxic planets, which would take awhile to research up to. Still, I thought this might look pretty straightforward again for a while. Then I realized that everyone in the galaxy was stuck with only one or two planets, except me... and the Psilon. He started out a bit slower than I expected, was 2nd last in pop for a bit, but then he exploded. I think he might have been stuck behind a hostile planet or needed a range tech to get out of his corner, but once he got that, he quickly nabbed pretty much the entire west side of the galaxy. I traded him enhanced eco environment for toxic bases, which I hated to do but had no choice as it wasn't in my tree, and filled in almost all of my side of the galaxy except for one small radiated which I wasn't going to bother with (again, would have needed to get the tech from the Psilons.) Still, it seemed like I might have a runaway Psilon on my hands if I wasn't careful. He had a substantial lead on me in the tech graph, as many planets as I did, and more production to boot.

That set the stage for a very long period of tense relations with the Psilons. Fortunately they were honorable, and I had big trade agreements and a non-aggression pact with them, so it took a long time before we finally went to war. This gave me time to snag the two Klackon worlds (I did have to rebuild one from scratch though,) the Darlok homeworld, and the Human homeworld, which I had to betray an alliance to grab, but it was that or see it fall to the Psilon megafleets.

These acquisitions finally gave me enough research power that I could keep up with the Psilons -- they were still a tech or so ahead of me in every category but Planetology, but at least I wasn't falling further behind. Eventually I decided to go for Orion before I took on the Psilons. It took two tries to get a design capable of doing the job; I had forgotten exactly what the Guardian's stats were on Impossible and my first design didn't have a good enough computer. Meanwhile the Psilons were throwing huge ships with big guns (tm) at my missile bases. Fortunately I had recently managed to get Pulson missiles, which let me do enough damage through the big shields on these guys to whittle the stacks down most of the time. I did lose one small toxic planet to them, and there were a couple times where they wiped out my initial stack of bases but the next turn I was able to build enough more to chase them off and secure my colony again. Most of my planets wound up with over 100 missile bases, which is almost unheard-of for me. Eventually I got class XX planetary shield, which mostly eliminated the threat.

Once I had Orion secure I started to build a Really Big Stack of small bombers -- Omega-V bombs, good computers, Ion engines & intertial stabilizers, Zyro shields for anti-missile defense. I field tested a stack of these on the radiated world I never bothered getting (of course the Psilons did...) and it worked great, though of course there was some attrition. End game bombers are really a great cure for what ails you. I started amassing these in quantity, choosing targets where the Psilons had moved their ships away. Speed 6 let me get there in one or two turns, before the Psilons could get anything significant in place to defend. I started wiping Psilon colonies off the map -- burning them down, rather than capturing them for the most part. I didn't want to slow down to defend them. Eventually the maintenance costs on their massive fleets became too much, and the big Psilon fleets largely vanished. I did capture a couple Psilon worlds, including their homeworld, near the end, once their fleet was scattered and ineffectual.

This is one of the rare games where I actually made it all the way through the tech tree. On small maps, that doesn't often happen. I managed to tame the runaway Psilon, though, by grabbing enough real estate off the "minors" that I could keep up in tech until the late game. The late game is where the odds start to tilt in the player's favour -- the AI just can't cope with enemy fleets that have superior strategic movement speed, and it doesn't always take advantage of its own ability to create rapid-response fleets. A large part of the reason I was so successful against the Psilon attackers was that they would constantly include speed 1 designs in their fleets, which just gave me plenty of warning to build lots of bases before those fleets arrived.
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Sirian
Sirian

March 28th, 2004, 6:31 pm #5

Thanks for the report.

I've never been to the end of the tech tree on a small map. I don't think I've ever bothered with Orion on one either. If an AI is able, early or middle game, to burn down one or two of my systems, I don't usually recover. There's simply no way to match their fleet building, and with them in your face, and so little expansion room, aggressors will tend to come quickly and heavily. Often max resources into defense and defense techs is not enough to stop this aggression. Depends on the terrain, though. If the AI's go at one another instead of at me, then I may be able to survive to where my defenses are sufficient to deal with their fleets.

My fifth and final report in this initial batch is a Small Map game played as the Mrrshan. Finally, a report suited to your preferences. It's not up as of this writing, though. I have an Epic report to finish.


- Sirian
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Zed
Zed

March 28th, 2004, 7:37 pm #6

I went after Orion more for fun, and because I thought I was safe enough that I could afford the time to do so, than out of any real necessity. I could have built Omega-V bombers rather than going after Orion, though I would have had a bit slower going of it. The time I wasted going after Orion at least allowed enough miniaturizating techs to come in to make for some quite spiffy bombers.

Usually I get to the end of the tree on a small map because I've been farting around making zoo exhibits rather than just finishing the game. Occasionally there will come a game where I actually need to get most of the way through the tree in order to build up a credible attacking force that is good for taking out more than some laggard AI civilization. One of my most memorable games was playing as Meklar on a medium map. I started out locked in the corner with just 4 fertile planets and no hostile ones, needing range 6 to get anywhere; by the time I could get out of my corner, the other races including a Silicoid had grabbed everything. I was sweating bullets constantly in that game! 4 planets is enough for the Meklar to keep up on a small map, but definitely not on a medium map; if any of the top 3 AIs had decided to take a run at me, I would have been toasty. Fortunately the Humans were closest to me, blocking me off from most of the galaxy, and I was careful to stay on good terms with them. My only other direct neighbor was a Sakkra who was only a little better off than I was, territory-wise, so as soon as I could I started trying to poach his systems. It took a long time to wear them down, but eventually I was successful and grabbed some of their planets, though IIRC one of the big empires did nab a couple as well. That paved the way for me to take on the second-weakest AI, at which point I was finally in a postition where I could compete with the big boys. That was another game where I exhausted the tree legitimately.

Looking forward to your Mrrshan report. Sounds like you might have been trying to make things hard on yourself this time.
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Zed
Zed

March 30th, 2004, 5:32 am #7

Maybe the game is trying to tell me I should take cheap diplo wins when I have the chance.

This has turned into one very frustrating game. Every time I think the situation has stabilized and I can start to make some actual PROGRESS, some new fire comes up that I have to fight.

First, the Klackons poach one of my newly settled worlds that I'm not ready to defend yet. OK, I can deal with that. Next, despite the fact that they are at war with everyone else, the Sakkra decide they have to come pester me too. I have to spend a ton of resources building small ships to fight them off, which stunts my growth curve. I find that there's no cleanup tech in my tree until Reduced waste 60%, no robotic controls III, and no soil enrichment, so I'm kinda hurting for early economic boosters. This combined with a higher than average military spend means that I'm falling significantly behind in tech. The fact that the Sakkra occasionally manage to put together a big enough stack to wipe out all the factories on a planet so I have to rebuild it from scratch doesn't help.

Finally I manage to get ahold of some planetary shields and a decent missile tech (scatter pack V) so I start being able to build some useful defensive bases. Of course, the other guys are rocketing up the weapons tech tree so I'm still not entirely secure, but I start to be able to put a significant investment in tech. Robotic controls IV is in my tree, so I beeline for that to try to get my sad economy going a little better. Once those are built, I figure I can build some Stinger missile boats to go after the small fry. Then, out of the blue, the Psilons, who I'd been friendly with the whole game, decide I've got too many ships on the border and declare war. Umm, I hate to break it to you guys, but this is a small map -- the entire map IS the border. So now I've got the tech gods to worry about as well. That wouldn't be so bad, except a space crystal shows up, and guess who it decides to go after! If half the galaxy didn't decide to try and attack my worlds while the crystal was in orbit, I'd be fine... but of course that's exactly what they do, and one colony gets auto-destroyed. I'm about to lose another colony, and I only had 5 to start with. My fleet is missile-based, so I can't put a dent in the crystal, and I don't have any decent guns either. Sux to be me...

I'm hanging in there, but I just can't seem to get a break! Aargh!
I had a save from fairly early in the game, so I tried the Bulrathi game again. This time, I was able to hold my own.

The key this time around was better early diplomacy. The reason the Klackons went after my one exposed world the first time around was that, while they were at war with the Sakkra and Alkari as a result of an alliance, when that alliance came to an end, they were stuck with nowhere to expand to... and with a big fleet sitting idle. (This was early in the game, I was still researching Class II shields, and they had something like 900 laser-armed fighters.) Once I realized that this was the key problem in the early game, I managed to convince them to declare war on their Silicoid neighbors, giving them something to do. That let me keep my 4th colony at the start, and, once I had colonized the dead planet at the far east side of my space, allowed me to keep enough tech coming in that I was able to tread water, unlike the previous iteration.

I still did get my poor world burned down once by the Sakkra, but because I was Bulrathi and their nearest colony was relatively small, I was able to hang onto it long enough to get a defensive fleet in place and rebuild it. Eventually I managed to strip first the Alkari and then the Klackons of their homeworlds, which gave me enough oomph to grab 3 of the Sakkra's 4 remaining worlds. I let them keep their last one as I wanted to leave the Senate as a viable option.

Once I had snagged the majority of Sakkra space, I wanted to turn my sights on the Psilons, but they had Scatter Pack VII and really formidable shield tech. Most of their RP went into shields and weapons this time, their other schools were not that impressive. Regardless, that meant I'd have a difficult time scratching their bases. Meanwhile, the Silicoids had somehow gotten ahold of Gaia Transformation! I had to have that; I had neither Soil nor Gaia in my tree, and I was suffering for it. So, I changed targets and grabbed Cryslon. It turned out that while my bombers were quite capable of taking out world after world, my defensive fleet was a bit too obsolete; I captured Cryslon, but was unable to hold it, as it had had a minerals depletion event and was slow to build its planetary shield. It didn't matter, though, as I got the techs I wanted out of the Silicoids, and the Sakkra wound up burning down the planet so I didn't lose any tech to another race capturing it.

Once I had Gaia transformation complete on my planets, it was time to go after the Psilons. I reinforced my bomber fleet and built some fighters to go with it, and sent it after the Psilon homeworld. The Psilons had Class 33 shields on their planets! 2 of my 3 bomber stacks were only equipped with anti-matter bombs, but the 3rd had Omega-V bombs, so I was able to eventually take the planet. If you want an example of how strong the Psilons are at research, consider this: Mentar was still size 100 and had less than 200 factories when I captured it. The Psilons had just 4 planets that were theirs since the beginning of the game, and never once got a single planetary size improvement OR robotic controls tech, yet the Psilons were far and away the tech leaders until the very end of the game. The thing that really crippled them was that their low production meant they could never really field a fleet that could take their tech advantage and turn it into real gains; their ships were always fielded in dribs and drabs, so were relatively easy to counter despite the tech differential.

Anyway, by that point it was clear the game was over. I had over 50% of the stars under my control, and now with Gaia Transformation under my belt, I had over 2/3 of the population in the galaxy. I took the next election victory and spared the remaining AI systems the indignity of being pummeled by bombers.
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