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Starsector 0.9.1a is out! (05/10/19); Blog post: Raiding for Fun and Profit (11/27/19)

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Author Topic: 20 Drovers vs Pirate Starbase and 26 Doom Fleets, 616 ships destroyed, no losses  (Read 7105 times)

goduranus

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I was gonna post this in the carrier spam thread, but this was too epic, I hope I can share it in a new thread :P
***

While testing just what kind of challenge the Spark Drover spam can take on, I managed to sneak up on a Pirate station with a raid assembling around it, and accomplish my greatest feat in Starsector yet. My fleet of 20 Spark Drovers battled the orbital station with 26 pirate fleets totaling 619 ships! When the glows faded from the wrecks, a mere 3 pirate ships managed to escape.

Note that I retreated the Drovers as their peak performance ran out, but it was a single battle without disengaging to repair. The pirate fleets were so numerous that even with all their warships destroyed, and they started deploying freighters and tankers, I was still only able to deploy 160 points, limiting me to only 13 Drovers on the field at a time. At the very end, all Drovers were down to red CR, and I deployed some frigates to mop up the freighters and tankers.

Here is part 1 of that epic battle:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjwi3HznDGI
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 09:22:06 AM by goduranus »
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Megas

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Looks like a case of fighters being better missiles than missiles.
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Thaago

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Looks like a case of fighters being better missiles than missiles.
This is completely wrong - these weren't bombers acting as regenerating missiles in the slightest. It was force projection and concentration of guns. Fighters have the highest possible force concentration (and Sparks are exceptional even among fighters), while pirates have the lowest force concentration. The Drovers can engage the pirates from out of range, and can swarm. Meanwhile, the Pirates lack any weapons that can deal with massed fighters, and trickle in a few ships at a time. In a lot of the combat, it was the sparks from about half the Drovers attacking the same target.

This was an epic fight and certainly shows the power of carriers... but I note that at 21:30 or so, the drovers are pushed off the map (and this happens a few other times). If they hadn't been able to retreat, they would probably have taken losses.

So its kind of a perfect storm: You have the undeniable power of carriers plus a best in class fighter, but you also have AI loadouts that are weak vs fighters on low force concentration ships (crappy pirates) that are being trickled in and swarmed. The very few times those conditions don't apply - its a solid wall of pirates that finally have some force concentration - the drovers are forced back and must retreat or die.
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Megas

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I consider interceptors and fighters a missile of sorts.  They fly around like homing missiles, but instead of ramming the target in a suicide run, they shoot bullets, beams, or more missiles.  Fighters since 0.8 are treated as weapons.

I think if I tried Pilum spam, it would have failed miserably.  (I tried an impromptu pilum spam fleet with missile ships, and despite Pilums blotting out the screen, all Pilums manage to do hit a few times, maybe kill one ship in the best case.)

Other missiles would run out of ammo long before that fight is over, even Locusts with Expanded Missile Racks.

That is why I say fighters are better missiles than missiles.  No missile weapons can do what fighters do, and fighters behave too similarly to missiles since 0.8.

As for the fight, it seems mass Drovers are very effective against the important enemies, or at least more efficient than multiple capitals.

I think the Drovers were driven off the map by peak performance expiring.  Why let the ships bleed CR if he does not need to?  Since the loot bug was fixed, it makes sense to call a time out and end the round to reset peak performance and start the next round without CR ticking down.

Peak performance is why I normally use only cruisers or capitals by endgame, but this fight is so big and long that even capitals with Hardened Subsystems will run out of peak performance.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 11:41:13 AM by Megas »
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From a Faster Time

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I was gonna post this in the carrier spam thread, but this was too epic, I hope I can share it in a new thread :P
https://youtu.be/EVCrmXW6-Pk?t=3

But on a serious note, ever since carriers were buffed a lot and all the combat related skills were nerfed I have felt the game being a bit off as it rewards you with the most amount of power for the least amount of effort. At least with the more powerful combat skills in 7.2 times the player still had to control the ship and do all the work. Now it seems like that was stamped out and replaced with "you can go afk bro, just let carriers do all the work" while it being one of the strongest options.
Last bit that is annoying is that if you take carriers vs carriers, you can kill their fighters/bombers and what not, and then your fighters can kill off the enemy ships.
On the other hand if you take lots of PD, flak, and anti fighter weapons, then you may be able to kill of the fighters, but killing off the carriers with those weapons is like pulling out teeth with your nails. As of right now you should get a couple of carriers, if only for purely interceptor role.
Over all the carriers feel quite deployment point efficient comparing to anything else early on and mid game.
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Null Ganymede

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Note that [redacted] challenges and certain modded factions have amazing PD (well, small weapons that crack fighter armor and chew through their hull, not necessarily PD-PD) to deal with this exact scenario. Pirates don't.
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TaLaR

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AI's tendency to play safe misfires badly against fighter spam strategies.
There are basically 3 ways to fight carriers:
- Have enough PD to swat all fighters out of sky before they do any damage, so that you can hunt carriers while mostly ignoring fighters (after first coordinated wave anyway).
- Have enough PD to gradually grind carrier replenishment rate while taking as little damage as possible in process, then hunt carriers.
- Recognize that while you don't have enough PD for either, you do have enough firepower to go berserk on carrier and kill it by sacrificing armor/hp (in worst case slightly before it kills you).
Grinding down Drover-based Sparks is close to impossible due to ship system, and AI is incapable of going berserk in such calculated manner.

In more broad sense, AI simply doesn't try hard enough to counter fighters.
- Backpedaling against large waves of fighters to extend approach time they have to spend within frontal fire cone is simple and very often useful behavior.
- AI tends to stay withing convenient fighter/bomber round trip distance from carrier. This is a huge mistake unless you are actually shooting them all down on approach and successfully draining carrier's replenishment rate. Otherwise either rush in berserk style or back out to stall. Getting whittled down due to indecisiveness is the worst option.
- Plasma cannon is at least as good as Devastator at killing swarms of fighters due to penetration. It's also excellent PD against dense targets like Flash/Piranha bombs or Annihilator/Squall streams (best case is destroying PD targets by pass-through on way to ship target). Yet AI doesn't use it like that.


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TJJ

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An entertaining light show, but torpedo bomber spam would've been much more effective.

Completely agree with @From a Faster Time, fighters & bombers are still far too powerful - especially for the lack of player engagement in their usage.

If carrier gameplay can't be made engaging for the player, I'd suggest that:
- they should be nerfed sufficiently such that carriers are not a reasonable choice as a flagship
- The skills relating to them should be removed from the player skill tree (keep them for officers)

Rather more subjectively, I don't find fighting against fighters & bombers particularly fun or rewarding.
- Point defence weapons are strictly automatic, so aiming is largely out of the player's control.
- the huge difference in speed between fighters & capitals, takes most of finesse in manoeuvring out of the player's control.
So you're left with shield control, which:
- vs swarms of fighters is rarely useful
- vs torpedoes is usually a binary choice; block it & hope you don't overload, or die.

Of all combat engagements, fighters & bombers degenerate most quickly into a numbers game; either you have sufficient DPS to overwhelm the fighters, and rush the carrier, or you don't, and you die.
There's not very much room for player agency & skill.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 03:41:14 PM by TJJ »
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Megas

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Carriers is probably best deferred to officers.  Having my guy sink nine points into carrier-only skills when there are only three or four good carriers to use stinks.  So far, the extent of carrier specialization for me is Fighter Doctrine 3 for my whole fleet, one Steady officer with all carrier skills to pilot Astral with six Perditions, and maybe one other officer with Carrier Command (and rest typical combat skills) to use Legion well.
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goduranus

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It was a long battle, so there's more :P
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpHZBTRfZyM

SapphireSage

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Although I will be adding my own thoughts here, please bear in mind that this is someone that prefers to pilot carriers/supercarriers as the flagship in a carrier centric fleet. Honestly, I was pretty excited when 0.8 rolled around and Alex announced the new mechanics for fighter control that wasn't "Mass tons of fighters with a few hangers and watch them wolfpack them down."

Generally, fighters do better against frigates and destroyers while bombers are better against cruisers, capitals, and starbases. Another unmentioned reason that fighters are strong are because of the AIs tendency to deploy all small ships first before the larger ones. This leaves nothing but separate frigate and destroyer fodder to be quickly run through before the less DP efficient enemy caps and cruisers show up lacking any support and getting worn down.

The video also shows the main advantage of fighters, the concentration of force with little risk. Early on you took down the level 2 station by concentrating the fighters immediately on it prior to the enemy frigates showing up, and as stated before frigates are fodder to fighters and quickly disposed of by the high-end performing sparks. This meant that for the first few minutes you were able to safely concentrate 160 DP worth of firepower on the station. Some fighters would be destroyed of course, but it means little to losing frigates or destroyers.

In this case too, as noted earlier, pirates tend to be very poor in dealing with fighters, let alone the extremely high end and dangerous shielded 5x Burst Laser sparks. Pirates lack good anti-fighter weaponry, either have no or poor shields with little coverage, lack good options for bigger ships aside from Falcon(P), and their officers tend to be few and low in number, meaning less chance for 'Advanced Countermeasures 3'.

A high tech space fortress might be the better contender against the spark drover due to having better, dedicated shield modules and heavy mine spam. It won't kill the drovers not being mobile, but if it isn't slowly getting worn down it should force a stalemate and retreat. High tech would also be more likely to make use of dooms and omens which are much more effective at anti-fighter.

Although mods were involved, in 0.8 I used an II Matriarch loaded with Wanzers and was able to blow through most opponent fleets with the exception of the Templars, who were strong due to their priwen bursts and the high frequency of 'Advanced Countermeasures' from all level 20 officers and DME who have a lot of EMP, which is better against low numbers of strong fighters admittedly.

Generally, PD weapons are not so good against fighters though you'd think so by designation. Since all weapons can target fighters it works a bit differently, HIL for instance can be manually swept over an initial fighter wave with its strong HE. Swarmers can be massed rather than harpoons for good anti-fighter coverage for a time and the first wave at least. And don't dismiss Advanced Countermeasures 3. AC 3 with good autofire accuracy can single-handedly wipe fighter squads with token defenses or weapons, 50% damage is no joke. Usually when piloting a carrier, I can immediately tell when an enemy ship has AC 3 regardless of class by the amount of casualties they inflict. It won't save a frigate, but for a cruiser and capital it makes a huge difference in whether I'll be able to beat them down or if they completely no-sell my carrier and its a very good skill to give to officers if one is inclined to go warship heavy as it counters fighters surprisingly well. Using the templar example above, AC 3 bulwarks were almost entirely untouchable with priwen bursts, and the paladin and archbishop would kill them before they even got close.
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Euphytose

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If carrier gameplay can't be made engaging for the player, I'd suggest that:
- they should be nerfed sufficiently such that carriers are not a reasonable choice as a flagship
- The skills relating to them should be removed from the player skill tree (keep them for officers)

I do agree that carriers and specifically bombers are overpowered but those two suggestions are pretty bad. If someone wants to use a carrier as a flagship it should definitely remain a possible choice.

Likewise, tying skills to officers only would make piloting a carrier a strictly inferior option.

They clearly require less interaction, and are very good for people who prefer using the tactical map a lot rather than going toe to toe with enemy ships. I personally don't see the fun in piloting a carrier but it should definitely be a viable strategy.

But they do need a nerf, and possibly the Atlas needs a rework of its ship system because right now, not using full bomber loadout is stupid. I get that there are "obvious" choices, but this one has no comparable options. Kind of like reaper Harbinger.
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goduranus

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Next up, 24 Spark Drovers vs 9 Redacted fleets. Will their luck finally run out ;D
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 12:55:57 AM by goduranus »
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RawCode

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thats why i like pirate deathballs!
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