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Author Topic: Combat beginner guide  (Read 18273 times)

Null Ganymede

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Combat beginner guide
« on: January 30, 2018, 11:19:57 PM »

Starsector combat requires logistics support. Running low on supplies and mass is unforgiving when you're still learning the game.

This guide shows you one way to bootstrap a viable, sustainable combat character that doesn't rely on slurping down supplies and fuel at every market.

Step 1: The Mercenary Life

Hit e, 1, w and select "Bounties" on the left. You're looking for system-wide bounties from factions that don't hate you.



Everyone hates pirates so they'll be your primary target. (And Corvus starts with one, what a coincidence!) The bounty could be for anything though - you'll get paid for any hostile ships you destroy in the area.

Getting a commission with a faction is a fairly permanent choice, but doubles your payments if you know where you're going to end up. Being hostile to their enemies won't be a problem for long.

Step 2: Fleet Efficiency

See the supply cost of whatever fleet you're engaging? Your goal is to spend less supplies killing it than it's carrying.

You need a bunch of force multipliers to do that. Fortunately there's plenty to be had:

  • An officer in every combat ship. They don't cost supplies and provide huge benefits.
  • Since you'll be fighting pirates at first, specialize in swatting low-tech frigates and destroyers. Fighters and high-speed missiles supporting a front line of fast frigates are great at this.
  • Focus on ending combat quickly and decisively. Safety Overrides and missiles are your friends. So is the accelerated ammo feeder on a Lasher or Hammerhead.
  • Your flagship is your most deadly asset. With some offensive combat skills, you can roll up a flank by picking off enemy ships one by one before they can retreat or be supported. Learning to be effective with different hulls is also fun!
  • Only bring ships that pull their weight. Try different refits in the simulator both manually and under AI control - does the ship fill a useful role in your fleet? If you're missing the weapons/hull mods/officer needed to make it shine, store it for a future date.
  • Finally, fight outnumbered. Your ideal fleet is sitting on the system's jump-point in hyperspace, looking outgunned while protecting a bunch of unarmed civilian-hulled freighters. The freighters are for gathering loot from the stream of pirates attacking what looks like an easy kill.

Step 3: Skill Selection

You'll level quickly. The following is a rough guide to possible skills to focus on, though they're optional and there are many other variations:



Combat skills should be your first investment. You can boost your fleet later as it starts to grow. Since your main supply drain will be combat, logistics and industry skills aren't important unless your fleet is spending lots of supplies repairing armor damage.

Your exact skill choices will be dictated by what hull mods and hulls you stumble across. An early Integrated Targeting Unit or Converted Hangar will drive fleet composition and loadout in different directions.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2018, 11:25:35 PM by Null Ganymede »
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xenoargh

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2018, 07:42:35 AM »

Hey, great initiative!  We need a good new-player guide again :)

I'd like to chime in and say something that should be obvious, but isn't:

1.  New players should start on Easy, unless they really want to be challenged.  Really.  The game's mechanics are difficult-enough.

2.  New players should always start with the Tutorial.  Really.  Besides doing some hand-holding and explaining basic mechanics, by the end of the Tutorial, players will have a Hammerhead with reasonable weapons, a Condor, and sometimes they'll be able to salvage a Venture, if they fight all the Pirate fleets in-system.
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Goumindong

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2018, 01:57:02 PM »

I really disagree with this. Combat skills, while nice early become a huge trap. The issue with learning to kill early pirate fleets is much more based on composition and size rather than character skills.

And the two best skills with regards to achieving that have nothing to do with the combat tree at all. And the best hull mod either.

The answer are the "Insulated Engine Assembly", Sensors(2), Navigation(1), and Safety Procedures(3).

The reason for this is because the primary problem with early combat costs are

1) Being seen by a fleet that is too large for you do deal with

2) Being unable to catch fleets that are smaller than you

Insulated Engine Assembly halves your sensor profile. Sensors (2) reduces your profile by 25% or 62.5% when "going dark". The combination of all three mean that your regular profile is 62.5% lower than normal and your "Going dark" profile is 81.25% lower. This essentially makes you invisible outside of enemy sensor range. This lets you more easily find, determine whether or not you can kill or its worth killing, targets, and also avoid those you don't want to fight while spending as little time as possible doing it

On top of this Safety Protocols 3 makes you easily able to catch targets, not because of D mods but because it makes emergency burn free. If you get to the edge of sensor range with "going dark" and then e-burn at an enemy you're almost guaranteed to catch them. The problem with doing this is that the supply cost for doing so is hellacious. A large reduction for every ship in your fleet. But without that cost you can freely e-burn, and catch, whatever you want.
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Megas

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2018, 07:21:42 PM »

The strongest combat skills are in Leadership (Officer Management and carrier skills) and Technology (Gunnery Implants 3, Power Grid Modulation 2+, Electronic Warfare 1, and Loadout Design 3).  The only game changer Combat skill is Helmsmanship 3, and that is to enable carriers to kite at zero-flux speed while fighters are engaged (because engaged fighters add flux to carrier like shields do and prevent zero-flux speed without the perk).

Putting all skills into Combat only is not much stronger than an unskilled character.  All Combat skills might let your ship punch above its weight by one class, but it cannot solo fleets like in the old days... unless it is a carrier, but you need to cherry pick skills from three aptitudes for that.

In 0.8.x, it is more efficient to boost your fleet than your flagship, unless your flagship is a dedicated carrier built to work alone.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2018, 07:24:57 PM by Megas »
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xenoargh

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2018, 08:30:36 PM »

I agree; you don't want Combat at all until you've gotten the important biggies out of Tech.  Combat doesn't lift the player high enough above to be properly heroic, either; it's a path to stagnation.

I guess I know what my next little project will be... finishing my work on Skill rebalance...
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AxleMC131

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2018, 08:59:52 PM »

Hey, great initiative!  We need a good new-player guide again :)

Uhh.  ???

Guys?

Guys?

http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=13115.0

 ;D
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Thaago

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2018, 09:02:40 PM »

This is a good guide, thanks for writing it!

[quotes]

I strongly disagree with all three of you: for a beginner there is nothing more important than a moderate investment in combat skills (ie 1 rank in several of the defensive ones) for making it through the difficult early game. An early game ship with skills is 2-3 times more powerful than one without, and the early game is what kills new players: maxing out on endgame power is nice but completely irrelevant because any skill build, or no skills at all, can beat everything. Really the only part of the game that is challenging and might trip up a new player is the early game, and combat makes that a breeze.
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Null Ganymede

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2018, 09:09:27 PM »

Combat doesn't lift the player high enough above to be properly heroic, either; it's a path to stagnation.

False.

There are many paths to heroism. A carrier flagship is great at projecting control over the entire battle, especially with an operations center fitted. Goumindong's stealth-focused build is a terror on the strategic campaign map, especially when outnumbered in enemy territory. Dipping into industry helps a ragtag fleet of damaged ships hit above their weight.

Combat skills on the flagship are there to move the tipping point in local engagements that fit into a single screen. They make a difference between:

- target exploding / target retreating under allied cover to vent flux
- dangerous ship getting flux locked and focused down by allies / it winning the flux war and scaring allies away
- having the mobility to use your current target to block its allies from shooting you / getting swarmed and focused down

By repeatedly winning the local engagements, you can reduce the enemy fleet down ship by ship. Investment in offensive skills speeds up the process, while defensive skills help you sustain it under fighter or supporting fire.

Which path works best for you depends on the type of gameplay you'd like to focus on. Combat skills are great for things that don't run away, like Nexerelin sieges and bounties in relatively safe space.
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AxleMC131

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2018, 09:56:02 PM »

For the record, Combat skills are fine. The thing to remember is that if you, say, sacrifice fleet-wide skills for flagship-specific skills then yes, you as a player ship will be killing more and dying less... But your buddy support ships won't be. It's a trade-up the thoroughly depends on how you fight.

For a beginner player at the stage of learning the basics of ship control and loadout design, I will conceded that the player-specific combat skills are a simpler and arguably more potent investment. However, once they have a better grasp of combat and are able to focus more on fleet design as a whole, fleetwide skills are probably far more worthwhile.
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Goumindong

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2018, 11:36:27 PM »

This is a good guide, thanks for writing it!

[quotes]

I strongly disagree with all three of you: for a beginner there is nothing more important than a moderate investment in combat skills (ie 1 rank in several of the defensive ones) for making it through the difficult early game. An early game ship with skills is 2-3 times more powerful than one without, and the early game is what kills new players: maxing out on endgame power is nice but completely irrelevant because any skill build, or no skills at all, can beat everything. Really the only part of the game that is challenging and might trip up a new player is the early game, and combat makes that a breeze.

Not really no. The problem with the early game is understanding ships and weapons. A few skills aren’t going to turn the starting wolf into a murder machine... but a tactical laser will and some better weapon grouping will. The problem isn’t that most newbies don’t have a strong enough ship. It’s that they don’t understand what makes a ship strong.

The aforementioned wolf without the tactical laser cannot keep an enemies shields up. This means it must either trade better(which it cannot always do) or perform risky phase jumps (which are risky). But the wolf with the tac laser can keep enemies shields up when it’s cooling down it’s flux, and then reengage with a hard flux advantage.

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Thaago

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2018, 12:07:15 AM »

I mean thats one way to do it, but certainly not the only way.

...

I'd take a single point in a single combat skill over a tac laser on a wolf in the early game, tbh. A few skills does vastly increase the ability of a Wolf to combat early threats, without any need of in depth understanding. A pulse laser will kill pirates no problem.
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Goumindong

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2018, 01:38:17 AM »

I mean thats one way to do it, but certainly not the only way.

...

I'd take a single point in a single combat skill over a tac laser on a wolf in the early game, tbh. A few skills does vastly increase the ability of a Wolf to combat early threats, without any need of in depth understanding. A pulse laser will kill pirates no problem.

The tac laser is small. It replaces the front mounted ion cannon not the pulse laser. The purpose is so that when you, or they, “bounce” and move to a position where they can potentially vent flux the tac laser keeps their shields up. This lets you vent your hard flux by taking your shields down while preventing them from venting theirs.

Without the tac laser you have to hope that the enemy cannot kite you with any ship that has a shield (or you have to go risky phase jumps) because when they or you get out of pulse laser range they will vent their hard flux and you’re back to square one.

A few skills aren’t going to make the starting wolf kill destroyers easily.
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Sy

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2018, 05:19:54 AM »

i think this looks good. yes, it is hard to say which skill/playstyle path is the best for newbie bounty hunter, but even if some disagree with combat being the way to go, this at least gives some guidance for people who are initially too overwhelmed by everything there is to learn and remember in the game to figure out their own set of skills. and i think combat is at least decent for this playstyle.

and yeah, we already have one basic newbie guide now, by Helmut. but that one is more general advice rather than a guide on how to do a specific playstyle, so i think this one could still be useful as well. :] both guides are relatively short anyway, so it shouldn't take much effort to read through both of them.


sidenote @Null Ganymede: your skill image shows only 2 points put into Gunnery Implants, but rank 3 is the one that grants increased weapon range. rank 1 and 2 are good as well, but the skill really should be maxed if the player already has 3 points in Technology.
oh, and, welcome to the forum! ^^


I'd like to chime in and say something that should be obvious, but isn't:

1.  New players should start on Easy, unless they really want to be challenged.  Really.  The game's mechanics are difficult-enough.

2.  New players should always start with the Tutorial.  Really.  Besides doing some hand-holding and explaining basic mechanics, by the end of the Tutorial, players will have a Hammerhead with reasonable weapons, a Condor, and sometimes they'll be able to salvage a Venture, if they fight all the Pirate fleets in-system.
agreed, on both points.

too many new players underestimate the early game challenge, or believe they'll just pick up the various gameplay mechanics as they go rather than doing (and paying attention to) the tutorials.
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Megas

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2018, 05:28:56 AM »

Combat skills on the flagship are there to move the tipping point in local engagements that fit into a single screen. They make a difference between:
The problem is the AI is just as cowardly and will run from the enemy unless it has an overwhelming advantage.  I tried all Combat builds.  They can duel a bit better than unskilled, but not enough to justify maxing the whole tree or even more than a few skills.  Ships with all Combat still cannot force fights any better than an unskilled character (or mostly unskilled character with Helmsmanship 3 and nothing else).  Combat does not change strategic play enough.  As Xenoargh wrote, Combat does not uplift the player enough (except Helmsmanship 3 on a carrier) to make a difference beyond something minor like allowing a Medusa to solo a cruiser instead of only a destroyer.  (Before 0.8.x, said Medusa could solo fleets.)

What is better is to outsource Combat to officers.  They can get the same skills as your character at much cheaper cost.  Two guys for one of your points, vs three points on something like Combat Endurance 3, and you do not have enough points for everything?  The choice is a no brainer - Officer Management.  Better to have four or more guys punching about their weight instead of only you.

Defensive Systems is one of the better Combat skills, especially if player wants Hardened Shields but cannot buy it due to not having Tri-Tachyon commission.  However, it is one of those skills I probably would skip if I do not have enough points to spare.
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Null Ganymede

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Re: Combat beginner guide
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2018, 06:06:59 AM »

Aggressive officers and range advantage via electronic warfare help the AI get stuck in. You definitely don't want to over-commit to the combat tree at the cost of key green/blue skills.

The player's one advantage over officers is (hopefully) situational awareness and (sometimes) good decision making. You can make decisions on which flank to reinforce or which targets to prioritize, then execute them far better than officers will via orders.

Gunnery Implants 2 gives a significant accuracy bonus to projectiles, which is effectively a damage bonus. It fits the theme of damage over utility, although 3 is usually worth it.
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