Fractal Softworks Forum

Starsector => General Discussion => Topic started by: intrinsic_parity on January 01, 2021, 03:06:33 PM

Title: Ironman Runs
Post by: intrinsic_parity on January 01, 2021, 03:06:33 PM
I normally don't play with ironman on so I decided to try a run recently. I ended up having a pretty bad time because I found I needed to play very safe to avoid big setbacks which would take way more time to fix than just playing safe. I also randomly wiped once because a massive pirate fleet I never saw got knocked into me by a storm too fast for me to escape, which felt terrible. It seems to me like the game needs some mechanism to absorb bad RNG (story points maybe?) for ironman to be playable, at least for me. Wiping from a random encounter like that after several hours of investment was too much for me. I also coincidentally discovered you can cheat Ironman by alt-f4ing right after ;D, and sort of turned it into a normal run with a lot less save scumming than normal :P, but it seems pointless to play with ironman on when I'm doing that.

I also noticed a lot more how the 'survival/resource management/ironman' side of the game sort of conflicts with the 'do whatever you want' sandboxy side of the game. I'm interested in what part of the game people are more drawn to, and if there are any big ironman proponents out there, and if people feel those things conflict to some degree like I do.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: SCC on January 01, 2021, 03:14:40 PM
As I said in the other thread:
I actually tried an ironman run recently and hated it. I ended up just playing super safe, avoiding any dangerous combats and it was very boring, but it felt like the risk of setbacks due to major loses in combat were just never worth while. I might make another thread about it actually.
I'm pretty good at the game and I think I don't like iron man less because I will lose progress, but because I might lose progress, and that makes me too anxious to take risks, and since I'm under no time pressure from the game itself...
But I will also add that now that I think about it, if I weren't save scumming, I would be saving very rarely — and I already save scum only before big, difficult fights.

I also coincidentally discovered you can cheat Ironman by alt-f4ing right after ;D, and sort of turned it into a normal run with a lot less save scumming than normal :P, but it seems pointless to play with ironman on when I'm doing that.
You can disable that in the settings.json file. Look for "allowForceQuitInIronMode".
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Thaago on January 01, 2021, 05:47:26 PM
I usually play ironman at this point unless I'm doing something whacky, and it definitely takes some adjustment to get used to because a full wipe is awful. On the other hand, rolling with the punches and overcoming adversity is so much more fun than just snowballing up to endgame in a series of easy battles, at least for me. Managing sensor radius (and what terrain one is in) and burn speed is even more important than before, as is outfitting early game ships to be able to run away well (Dram with Militarized Subsystems, SO, and UI goes fast!). Keeping a small set of backup ships either in abandoned storage or at the colony in case of emergency is very useful to accelerate a restart/patch holes in the fleet when things go bad, as is keeping a moderate credit reserve. I think everyone knows about my love of industry recovery skills at this point so I won't get into that again.

Getting storm ganked is rough! When travelling through storms I usually have a finger over emergency burn for just that reason, but sometimes its the enemy ships that get catapulted straight at you at 30 speed, and there's no escaping that (looking at you, wandering sub ordo with a radiant that ended my 'start with a buffalo mk II' challenge run on the way to my first named bounty. That was game over, no buffer of ships or money built up and that battleship is faster than a BMII!).

I actually really love escape battles, even though by definition its a bad situation that will probably lose ships. Desperately trying to save as many ships as possible, even ordering some ships to just be suicide delay boats, is a very different type of gameplay; the variety is nice. And when the fleets are too large to run away, you just have to hold on and do enough damage to the enemy, and then you can full retreat out of the battle in order to do a retreat.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Amoebka on January 01, 2021, 06:41:07 PM
I don't use the ironman option because the game sometimes crashes for me, but I never savescum anyway, so it's effectively ironman.

Losing entire fleets felt terrible at first, but now that I'm less OCD about D-mods, it doesn't matter much. Lose a bunch of garbage to a bounty, get a bunch of different garbage back from it. Only feels bad to lose unique ships, like Legions and IBBs.

The recovery process feels annoying, but only because of how hard it is to buy things before you have your own production queue. Flying around for an IRL hour because nobody sells railguns is miserable.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Serenitis on January 02, 2021, 07:36:56 AM
I don't "do" ironman at all.
Really not a fan of a game telling me I'm not allowed to save or load whenever I want for whatever reason I want, including having another go at something.
Especially (as noted) in a do-anything-you-want sandbox environment.
Not a fan tbh.

The part of the game which I like is the character/player progression. As in how you can shape your character, and how the resources you have branch out in sometimes odd ways, and what that allows you to do.
So long as my character in growing and 'evolving' then I'm fairly happy to plug away at whatever the game throws at me.
As soon as that growth stops, I start to lose interest because the game becomes almost static.

Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: pairedeciseaux on January 03, 2021, 06:19:18 AM
I don't play ironman Starsector.

I save often, basically every time right before leaving a system near jump point. But I don't reload often, I accept losses much more often with 0.9/0.9.1 compared to 0.8.1, so some of my ships tends to have D-mods from combat even if they were pristine when I obtained them. I do use Industry skills that helps. I do reload on big setbacks or "surprise" large hostile fleet catching my smallish fleet.

Thinking about it, currently I prefer the idea of short campaign runs starting from scratch rather than long campaign runs were I would continue with the same character in the same sector even after a full-wipe.

Maybe I should consider trying ironman with 0.95, as the game tends to get friendlier toward that way of playing. Remember the time when several dangerous fleets were waiting to get you in hyperspace near jump points?  ;D  This certainly was not ironman friendly at all.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Helldiver on January 04, 2021, 09:46:54 AM
I personally only play games like Starsector in Ironman. Without it, I find that player decisions have little consequence, you never pay for your mistakes, and danger and tension are gone. Nothing ever threatens you, and even some parts of gameplay are lost.
Starsector is very Ironman friendly too. Your character never loses levels and skills, you keep your faction reps, your money is safe and you survive always having found some ships to get back on your feet with if really needed. You can pick up whetever you've left in storage too (which gives real value to storing some rare stuff).

In my current, recently started playthrough, I've already been defeated twice. Both times were memorable, especially the second time as three of my transports barely made it out in the pursuit phase (with decent cargo too) after my collection of salvaged fighting ships lost the initial battle. Said battle had turned into a nightmare when my ships, which had not fully recovered CR before the fight, began to malfunction one after the other when the battle was almost won. Served me right for not paying attention to my CR gauges and playing it slow when I should have pushed for a quick victory, losses be damned.

I used to savescum in SS years ago back when the game was just fighting pirates in Corvus, but I only truly enjoy it now that I've embraced the challenge. And while it makes you more cautious in some ways (thank god for Go Dark and asteroid belts when hiding!), I find that it also makes you more bold.

PS: Aside from Nexerelin making the gameworld more dynamic and even more suited to Ironman campaigns, I heavily recommend the Combat Chatter mod. I didn't think it important in the past, but losing ships one after the other in big battles has a lot more impact when you see radio messages of your crews panicking as their ships are near destruction followed by them saying some final words or screaming when they take the last hit.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Tempest on January 06, 2021, 09:47:55 AM
I don't turn on Ironman, but I restart the game whenever my flagship is destroyed.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: DancingMonkey on January 07, 2021, 11:55:01 AM
I always play Ironman and yes you get wiped some times, which is why it's important to have something in storage or some spare credits in the bank.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Vind on January 07, 2021, 12:12:20 PM
Without some losses now and then game is too easy. Main "treasure" of the game is credits and skill levels anyway. Main lesson of the game - you can make everything perfectly right and still lose vs overwhelming odds.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: sector_terror on January 07, 2021, 04:51:16 PM
The only thing keeping me from ironman runs right now is the sheer cliff of how quick bounties and delivery jobs fall into. With the new coming contacts update I can control the pace of the missions given to me and actually control the pace of the games difficulty, something you -desperately- need in an ironman game. Right now things go way too fast too quickly for that. I love the tension of ironman, but I can't stand being forced to rush terribl or die with all or nothing as the consequences.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Null Ganymede on January 11, 2021, 04:43:16 PM
Save scumming lets you figure out strategy tactics in a way the simulator can't, afaik. Larger fleet engagements can hinge on what flagship you choose and what orders you give, and it's really fun figuring out how to handle your fleet work at peak performance by smashing your head against that one tough bounty you aren't quite ready to take on.

On the other hand, save scumming removes entire game mechanics (burn speed, sensor strength and profile, fighting retreats, salvage mods and skills) that are really fun.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: TaLaR on January 12, 2021, 04:37:50 AM
Yeah, that's one of my issues with Ironman - optimal Ironman play-style is to never challenge anything remotely dangerous.
Successful Ironman games like FTL bypass this by forcing player on a linear path with increasing difficulty.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: isyourmojofly on January 12, 2021, 05:37:53 AM
Ah, I do "semi-Ironman". Roll with the punches unless something unfair happens, like getting ganked by half a dozen deathballs at once without chance to dodge away. Keeps things interesting, but there are definitely times when I'm like "No, I'm not having that - reload and try again!".
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: mendonca on January 12, 2021, 07:42:29 AM
Ah, I do "semi-Ironman". Roll with the punches unless something unfair happens, like getting ganked by half a dozen deathballs at once without chance to dodge away. Keeps things interesting, but there are definitely times when I'm like "No, I'm not having that - reload and try again!".

Yeah this is also, generally, me. I will - maybe 50-50 (is that me being optimistic? Probably) - accept an 'unfair' loss if I'm feeling like I might have been more considered in my approach, but yeah - Ironman in spirit and reloading very occasionally.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Thaago on January 12, 2021, 10:36:25 AM
Save scumming lets you figure out strategy tactics in a way the simulator can't, afaik. Larger fleet engagements can hinge on what flagship you choose and what orders you give, and it's really fun figuring out how to handle your fleet work at peak performance by smashing your head against that one tough bounty you aren't quite ready to take on.

On the other hand, save scumming removes entire game mechanics (burn speed, sensor strength and profile, fighting retreats, salvage mods and skills) that are really fun.

I've played this way a lot as well (the iron kick has been a more recent preference) and its very fun/satisfying to crack how to win a big fight that at first seems like too much.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Cyan Leader on January 13, 2021, 11:44:11 PM
I really don't like the passive, cautious gameplay style that ironman promotes. I rather fight tough battles most of the time instead of always optimizing for safety.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Rain on January 14, 2021, 12:18:24 AM
I did a lot of savescumming, mostly before combat or entering potentially dodgy systems, while learning the game but while I've not been ticking the box for fear of mod stability, I've not been doing any reloading in my last ~10 or so games. So, another "effectively IM but not by the box".

I don't think I actually play any different from it either, but whether that's wrong assessment, plain potentially reckless gameplay or both I can't really say. Yeah, it sucks to lose unique or difficult-to-replace ships and whatnot, but I've kind of been looking at such things as a reason to change my focus and try out another flagship/fleet depending on whether me hilariously losing another my Odyssey to a miscalculated Plasma Burn-into-flameout sending me spinning through the enemy blob ends with mandatory flagship or partial-to-entire fleet replacement.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Sabaton on January 14, 2021, 06:05:56 AM
An easy way to reduce early ironman pain is to embrace crime and smuggle in the holy trinity (drugs, guns and marines) while also bumping your scavenge skills to get as much loot from those late game battles, also watch out for some mods as one of them (deadly/dangerous sector afaik) literally spawns [REDACTED] near/in front of you in deep space.

IM acts as a speed bump to player progression and could be considered the real hard mode because it forces you to plan and pay attention to mechanics just as others have said.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Avanitia on January 14, 2021, 06:39:18 AM
I do self-imposed ironman - I roll with what I get and don't reload unless something extremely unfair happens - doomstack I can't avoid for example.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Hiruma Kai on January 14, 2021, 12:01:06 PM
Iron man and self-imposed iron man type runs are there for the people who like prefer consequence and surprise over progression.  It is not inherently better or worse than any other play style, given at the end of the day all that matters is whether you had fun playing or not.

I did find spacer start iron man runs made me engage with more of the mechanics in the game I tended to mostly ignore before.  I found myself using sensor/stealth mechanics.  Less being lazy leaving my transponder on in hyperspace.  Really considering all the pros and cons of various ship and skill choices.  Sensor skills are more valuable in an iron man run since they give you more reaction time.  In a world where you can reload, you can always have the options of knowing what is in the immediate future with zero "risk".

As for fleet composition choices, a Hammerhead is stronger in a straight up fight, but Shrikes have burn 10 and run away much better when a surprise capital fleet suddenly appears out a hyperspace storm.  Buffalos are probably the king of efficient early game cargo capacity, but a properly built Cerberus on retreat is essentially impossible to catch (185 base + 50 SO flux boost + burn drive hits 435 - this thing is almost as fast as thunders when burning).

I don't know if that's a "cautious" or "passive" play style, but it is a different play style than what most would probably consider a normal play through.  And depending on how you view the game, you don't necessarily need to play more cautiously.  If you're more interested in progression, really powerful or unique end game ships, then I can see that view making sense.  If you view the game as a series of missions that simply have some continuity, then each fight can be viewed as standing alone, interesting in and of itself despite what ships you might have.  At which point, it doesn't matter if you wipe and get sent back to a frigate somewhere in the core.  Which actually isn't even that common of an occurrence given the retreat options built into the game.  Assuming one is willing to retreat.

Although, I admit having a high level character with a full skill tree and a bunch of hull mods unlocked with a single frigate is actually a very different play experience than starting normally.  I may have ended in that situation once or twice.

Due to iron man, I've fought and dealt with situations which I might not have otherwise.  In one game, I've literally used a single Shrike to distract multiple raid fleets in hyperspace while my colony finished building its defense station, then went back and grabbed the rest of my rag tag fleet to defend it once completed.  I led them around, and occasionally engaged if they started to head for the jump point. The retreat scenarios I engaged in actually ended with a few dead frigates, the larger ships far behind, and a surviving Shrike.  That is certainly not a typical combat scenario I'm guessing most people have tried.  I found it interesting and different from, say, another Atlas Mk II capital grind late game.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: Thaago on January 14, 2021, 02:52:11 PM
I have had similar experiences to Hiruma Kai with iron runs: there are a lot of tools available for the player to use that aren't relevant with quick and easy reloading. Prioritizing ships that can run away early game is also something I do, but forgot about. I have in the past used my Shrike (Shrikes are great and I thank everyone for convincing Alex to buff them) with plasma burn (and shield up) to push slower ships along in escape scenarios, which is somewhat hilarious.

I really don't like the passive, cautious gameplay style that ironman promotes. I rather fight tough battles most of the time instead of always optimizing for safety.

Well, playing iron mode one doesn't have to optimize for safety: I prefer to optimize for rewards. But its very true that one can't do the kind of suicidal fights for fun that you can do without it: I've spent a lot of time in not-iron doing the same fight over and over trying out different strategies and plans.

I feel like the most important skill I've developed that allows risky iron mode play is recognizing when a fight is turning bad and retreating before it turns into a route. Even when I massively screw up I can usually save 75%+ of the fleet, depending on how 'stuck in' my forces are and how many fast skirmish types of enemies the enemy has (Radiants are just pure death and pain). Its always painful, especially because a retreat means no loot at all on top of losses, but its better than a wipe.
Title: Re: Ironman Runs
Post by: blazeroth on January 14, 2021, 10:06:53 PM
I only play Ironman. There are also a few additional self-imposed rules that I now almost always follow. Taken together, I feel it provides the right level of challenge for me.

If the flagship is lost, I delete the save file (I'm dead)

No tutorial rewards, ships, salvage (The hammerhead provides too much of a head start)

Ships only from own battles that were victories; no ships or weapons from market; no ships from exploration (This forces me to take fights in order to progress, which is generally how I like to play)

No trading with pirates or Luddic Path (I like playing as the "good guys," also trading with them is too economically powerful)

No negotiations with Luddic Path (There are only two things I can't stand in this world: people who are intolerant of other people's cultures, and the pathers)