Fractal Softworks Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

Starsector 0.97a is out! (02/02/24); New blog post: Codex Overhaul (05/11/24)

Pages: [1] 2

Author Topic: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics  (Read 2280 times)

Fireside

  • Ensign
  • *
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile

I've got a couple hundred hours in, and I gotta say I love and hate this game at the same time.  I have a ton of fun, but there are certain things that I STILL can't seem to understand, that when they go wrong cause me so much frustration I have to put the game down.  So I figured coming here for a little help might go a long way.  For reference I'm playing version 0.95a-RC15.  Since I was new I was hoping to get a little more understanding before updating to a version with a few new ships and new mechanics.

First issue for me is fighters/carriers.  I don't get it.  I field them, and they get deleted by a gentle space breeze but yet pirates field them and melt my Apogee's.  I'm guessing there is a difference in the wings being used but I can't tell.  There is no way that I can find to check an enemies loadout in any way, and they're so blasted tiny I can't tell what they are; especially when they are fielded by something with a converted hangar.  This actually just led to me losing 2 hours of progress after I closed the game out of frustration (I try not to save "cheat" so I tend to only save when I'm done playing, so that's 100% my own fault).

Second, why do some menus have a "go back" option but others don't?  I can't find any consistency to it and it's led to more than a few reloads with a ton of progress lost just because I didn't have options I expected in the second menu.  Lemme give an example.  I got engaged by a pirate fleet that while larger than mine, wouldn't have been much of an issue to defeat.  But I was curious, I've never bothered to disengage, so I thought lets hit the attempt to disengage button.  To my surprise, the following menu had only a few options.  One was greyed stating "crash mothball ships" or something along those lines (sorry I don't remember exactly and don't plan to ever navigate to that menu again) but yet was unavailable stating all my ships were combat ready.  I had 4 mothballed ships at the time.  My other options were transfer command if I recall and continue.  The ensuing battle saw all my non combat ships forced into combat (makes sense if you're running away) and decimated while my combat ships afterward wiped the pirates off the battle field.  So the result was feeling like the game punished me for simply not knowing what menu commands would be available, while there is no way to know unless you let the game screw you at least once.

And last is the AI.  I've tried to read other threads about this and the last 2 issues but I'll admit its frustrating trying to figure out which version of the game the posts are referring to as its gone through so many, and all I have to go by is a date.  Having to research what the current version of the game was at the date of the post is really annoying, to be entirely honest, and that's assuming they're on the latest version.  But using just a recent example of what I don't understand my Sunder's and Condor's are dumb.  They have no officers, and I don't have a colony so afaik there is no doctrine to affect the behavior.  The Sunder was engaging a mule with nothing anywhere nearby with almost full flux and damaged armor but full hull.  The mule had 0 flux, full armor, full hull.  The Sunder sat there at the very limit of its range dropping shield and shooting briefly then shielding up, but still taking damage as it did so; why didn't it just disengage and vent?  And my Condor's usually just wedge themselves between my Apogee's and the target, getting melted.

Sorry if this seems like a rant.  I tend to enjoy the game a ton, then suddenly issues like this completely kill it for me.  I've been honestly regretting purchasing it the past few days because I just can't seem to understand some of this game no matter how many hours I dump in.  Please help me understand what I'm doing wrong with my ships T.T
« Last Edit: March 03, 2022, 02:23:44 PM by Fireside »
Logged

DirectionsToL3Please

  • Commander
  • ***
  • Posts: 100
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2022, 02:37:00 PM »

Fighters: Reasonably durable but pirates especially tend to have flak cannons, and those will chew up fighters easily. Be careful not to send fighters into areas with a lot of PD unless you also have a bunch of missiles/rockets to also distract PD.  The main reason I like Annihilator Rocket Pods so much is that they have a high rate of fire and pull PD fire away from my bombers.

See enemy loadout: just select the ship in "strategic view" and hover your cursor over it.

AI: the game's tactical pathing AI is hot garbage and I don't get how it still hasn't been fixed, but you can work around it somewhat.  As your ships come into the combat map, try immediately giving them individual move orders to set them up into a broadly acceptable formation. Remember that you can select multiple ships and put them into groups, so for example you could take your carriers and put them all in one group and give them move orders to keep behind the rest of the fleet.  They won't always obey, and nobody ever obeys move orders once combat is joined, but at least in the opening moments you can get your lines established.  If you're in a formation when combat starts, your AI ships will do a much better job than if you let them move out on their own.
Also, weapon loadout can frustrate you.  If you've got one really long range weapon and a bunch of short range weapons, your ship may sit at distance, using just one weapon and basically being useless, if it thinks it can keep out of range of a heavy barrage by the enemy.  So it's usually helpful to try to focus a ship's loadout into "main weapon range" and "PD range" and try not to mix too many different weapon ranges.  Weapon range is pretty useful so especially on bigger ships, try to use an Integrated Targeting Unit so you can reach out a bit.
Logged

Fireside

  • Ensign
  • *
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2022, 02:52:33 PM »

Fighters: Reasonably durable but pirates especially tend to have flak cannons, and those will chew up fighters easily. Be careful not to send fighters into areas with a lot of PD unless you also have a bunch of missiles/rockets to also distract PD.  The main reason I like Annihilator Rocket Pods so much is that they have a high rate of fire and pull PD fire away from my bombers.

See enemy loadout: just select the ship in "strategic view" and hover your cursor over it.

AI: the game's tactical pathing AI is hot garbage and I don't get how it still hasn't been fixed, but you can work around it somewhat.  As your ships come into the combat map, try immediately giving them individual move orders to set them up into a broadly acceptable formation. Remember that you can select multiple ships and put them into groups, so for example you could take your carriers and put them all in one group and give them move orders to keep behind the rest of the fleet.  They won't always obey, and nobody ever obeys move orders once combat is joined, but at least in the opening moments you can get your lines established.  If you're in a formation when combat starts, your AI ships will do a much better job than if you let them move out on their own.
Also, weapon loadout can frustrate you.  If you've got one really long range weapon and a bunch of short range weapons, your ship may sit at distance, using just one weapon and basically being useless, if it thinks it can keep out of range of a heavy barrage by the enemy.  So it's usually helpful to try to focus a ship's loadout into "main weapon range" and "PD range" and try not to mix too many different weapon ranges.  Weapon range is pretty useful so especially on bigger ships, try to use an Integrated Targeting Unit so you can reach out a bit.

So I'm not controlling the carriers myself since I tend to be abysmal at piloting in this game, the fighters are doing whatever the AI tells them to.  Is there a certain fighter wing that tends to work better in AI hands?  It did take me a moment to realize what you meant about hovering your cursor over the ship, I didn't realize the little icon at the bottom left had more information to give.  This is amazing, seriously, thank you so much.  I don't know why it never occurred to me to try that but it will make understanding what I'm doing wrong against certain enemies much easier.

With the Sunder, I don't think it was a loadout range issue.  I'm still really early game so the loadout is 3 pulse lasers and 2 light dual machine guns for PD, the ranges on the non PD weapons all match.
Logged

intrinsic_parity

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 3071
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2022, 03:00:30 PM »

Mules have the maneuvering jets ship system making them quite a bit faster than you might think, so it's possible your sunder wanted to run away but the mule was chasing/not allowing it to. Also, if you have d-mods affecting speed that could could make it harder for your sunder to run away.

Also, the faction doctrine of aggressiveness does apply to unofficered ships in your fleet, even if you have not established a faction/colony. The behavior you described sounds somewhat like reckless/aggressive AI behavior. Cautious/steady AI would not do that unless it was not fast enough to escape in my experience.

edit:
Also, 3x pulse laser is kind of wasting the sunders potential. If you can find them, any large energy weapon would be much better. And make sure to max out dissipation!
« Last Edit: March 03, 2022, 03:03:51 PM by intrinsic_parity »
Logged

Fireside

  • Ensign
  • *
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2022, 03:40:12 PM »

Mules have the maneuvering jets ship system making them quite a bit faster than you might think, so it's possible your sunder wanted to run away but the mule was chasing/not allowing it to. Also, if you have d-mods affecting speed that could could make it harder for your sunder to run away.

Also, the faction doctrine of aggressiveness does apply to unofficered ships in your fleet, even if you have not established a faction/colony. The behavior you described sounds somewhat like reckless/aggressive AI behavior. Cautious/steady AI would not do that unless it was not fast enough to escape in my experience.

edit:
Also, 3x pulse laser is kind of wasting the sunders potential. If you can find them, any large energy weapon would be much better. And make sure to max out dissipation!

I guess that's possible, I hadn't thought about that.  But with doctrine, does it default to something other than steady?  I've never had a colony so I have never changed it (in this play through).  I figured it would still apply but I also figured it would default to steady.

I am trying, the seed is not being kind with energy weapons, though I got a second Apogee and 2 Legion XIV battlecarriers.  The Legions are in storage atm because I was struggling so much with fighters.  I usually don't even use Sunders because they die so fast I don't bother.
Logged

intrinsic_parity

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 3071
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2022, 04:27:33 PM »

It defaults to steady, so my guess is that your sunder was simply to slow to run and was shield flickering to try and minimize damage (which is a good idea actually).

And yeah, sunders have really weak shields, so they kind of need as much range as possible to avoid taking hits. Pulse lasers, especially without integrated targeting unit, are pretty short range and not a good fit IMO.

If you want a more brawl oriented sunder, you can use safety overrides with a plasma cannon or auto pulse laser (even some heavy blasters will be ok). Your shields still suck though, so you're kinda betting on overwhelming damage output to avoid needing your shields too much, which can work in player hands, but I wouldn't really trust the AI to play it right.

Otherwise, you kinda want a high intensity laser or tach lance for 1000 range so that it can stay at a more safe range.
Logged

DirectionsToL3Please

  • Commander
  • ***
  • Posts: 100
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2022, 04:45:48 PM »

Is there a certain fighter wing that tends to work better in AI hands? 
I just use Broadswords and Khopeshes until I can switch over to Sparks and (whatever the REDACTED bomber is called).  Plus of course in some cases you want a wing of Xyphos to provide close escort; it's nice not to have to devote yet more DP to protect a battlecarrier that already costs 40DP to get onto the field.

More important than the specific type of fighter craft, I believe, is the balance of wings you use.  You want something to do damage (usually a bomber), you want something to keep those damaging craft alive (usually a fighter/heavy fighter), and sometimes you want to supplement your bomber+fighter threat with an interceptor wing.  Like with your fleet, which is better viewed as a whole rather than as a series of independent ships, your total wing deployment will benefit greatly from you considering how you intend to use it, and how to keep it alive long enough to do its job.
Logged

Nimiety

  • Commander
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2022, 05:12:02 PM »

For fighters, make sure you check their weapons before trying to use them. In general, anything with an anti-armor primary system sucks (looking at you, warthog) since fighters are mostly either hitting shields or other fighters and rip through armor on frigates with machine guns just fine anyway.

Try broadswords for bomber escort (put on carriers with bombers and they will follow the broadswords in), thunder for anti-frigate and anti-bomber (put only thunders on your carrier), Longbow/Dagger for bomber (longbow for remnant, dagger for pirates).

Talons are suicide booths, don't use them. Gladius is a worse broadsword. Wasps are high-tech Talons but at least don't eat crew. Lux and Spark are okay. Claws are like thunders but way slower and with half the range (though you do get 5 of them).

Most of the bombers are okay. Tridents are really good, basically daggers but a lot tankier. Use em against remnant or battlestations where daggers would just evaporate before firing their payload.
Logged

Thaago

  • Global Moderator
  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 7271
  • Harpoon Affectionado
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2022, 05:35:03 PM »

For fighters, the set of wings tries to maintain a formation depending on the fighter types while travelling. This makes them hit the enemy in a specific order, but also makes the group travel at the speed of the slowest wing. So be very careful of the speed of various wings - adding a Trident to a group of Daggers for example adds more total torpedoes but slows everything down horrendously, making the group take more losses, damage replacement rate more on the return trip, and have lower total damage output.

... Gladius is a worse broadsword....

Gladius has different strengths than Broadswords: they are interceptors rather than heavy fighters and have 100 more speed (base before buffs), and are cheaper. They have less hitpoints, but higher sustained firepower (Broadswords can't fire their guns continually) even though broadswords outnumber them 3 to 2. They have identical per fighter rebuild times, but the total wing rebuild time of gladii is 20 seconds instead of 30 so they are less taxing on a ship's replacement rate if something bad happens. They are also the only fighter that brings flares to the interceptor (300) speed band, so mixing one wing in with other interceptors (like sparks or claws or early game talons) dramatically improves how well they can survive, especially vs precision PD systems like burst pd.
Logged

DaShiv

  • Lieutenant
  • **
  • Posts: 95
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2022, 08:04:00 PM »

The Sunder was engaging a mule with nothing anywhere nearby with almost full flux and damaged armor but full hull.  The mule had 0 flux, full armor, full hull.  The Sunder sat there at the very limit of its range dropping shield and shooting briefly then shielding up, but still taking damage as it did so; why didn't it just disengage and vent?

This sounds like a loadout issue. In order to dictate the terms of combat (for example, being able to successfully disengage and vent), ships generally need some combination of speed and/or range advantage, ideally both. Mules have the Maneuvering Jets system to keep up with your Sunder, so if you want your Sunder to be able to create enough space to maneuver against the Mule, you'll probably need longer range weapons.

Pulse Laser Sunder vs Mule puts the Sunder at a significant range disadvantage since Pulse Lasers have poor range and Mules have ballistics to create an even larger range imbalance. For a Sunder loadout that's more capable of skirmishing, you'll want either HIL (High Intensity Laser) or Tachyon Lance backed by Graviton Beams, with some combination of ITU, Advanced Optics, and/or Unstable Injectors. This will give the Sunder the combination of range and/or speed that's needed to situationally adapt to different flux situations against a Mule.

In general, non-beam energy weapons work best on ships that have high speed for their size class (like Medusa or Shrike), due to their significant range disadvantage. Sunders also don't like to get too close to their targets, due to their poor shields.

Edit: The above obviously applies to 1 vs 1 engagements - with more ships on both sides, it becomes easier to retreat behind allied ships for cover to vent even if you don't necessarily have range/speed advantage.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2022, 08:06:54 PM by DaShiv »
Logged

Fireside

  • Ensign
  • *
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2022, 07:18:21 AM »

Holy cow guys, thank you for the responses.  TONS of info here that I don't think I'd have ever learned otherwise.  I should have asked for help sooner!

And yeah, sunders have really weak shields, so they kind of need as much range as possible to avoid taking hits. Pulse lasers, especially without integrated targeting unit, are pretty short range and not a good fit IMO.

If you want a more brawl oriented sunder, you can use safety overrides with a plasma cannon or auto pulse laser (even some heavy blasters will be ok). Your shields still suck though, so you're kinda betting on overwhelming damage output to avoid needing your shields too much, which can work in player hands, but I wouldn't really trust the AI to play it right.

This makes a lot of sense.  In my first play through (on easy mode) I did a safety overrides Sunder and handed it to my reckless officers  8).  Probably not the best use for a Sunder and I never really thought to try a long range build.  I'd been so frustrated at the start by my ships not getting in and just fighting things that I SO'd everything and stuck a reckless officer in it.  That actually got me pretty far lol.  I'll have to try some different loadouts when I have better weapons, or just head back to my first play through to mess around.

Is there a certain fighter wing that tends to work better in AI hands? 
I just use Broadswords and Khopeshes until I can switch over to Sparks and (whatever the REDACTED bomber is called).  Plus of course in some cases you want a wing of Xyphos to provide close escort; it's nice not to have to devote yet more DP to protect a battlecarrier that already costs 40DP to get onto the field.

More important than the specific type of fighter craft, I believe, is the balance of wings you use.  You want something to do damage (usually a bomber), you want something to keep those damaging craft alive (usually a fighter/heavy fighter), and sometimes you want to supplement your bomber+fighter threat with an interceptor wing.  Like with your fleet, which is better viewed as a whole rather than as a series of independent ships, your total wing deployment will benefit greatly from you considering how you intend to use it, and how to keep it alive long enough to do its job.

I had never bothered with Xyphos because I thought they looked pretty bad on paper.  TIL.  The second part I had NO idea on.  I knew having a good balance would help but didn't realize the fighters would behave differently depending on how I balanced the types of wings present.

For fighters, make sure you check their weapons before trying to use them. In general, anything with an anti-armor primary system sucks (looking at you, warthog) since fighters are mostly either hitting shields or other fighters and rip through armor on frigates with machine guns just fine anyway.

Try broadswords for bomber escort (put on carriers with bombers and they will follow the broadswords in), thunder for anti-frigate and anti-bomber (put only thunders on your carrier), Longbow/Dagger for bomber (longbow for remnant, dagger for pirates).

Talons are suicide booths, don't use them. Gladius is a worse broadsword. Wasps are high-tech Talons but at least don't eat crew. Lux and Spark are okay. Claws are like thunders but way slower and with half the range (though you do get 5 of them).

Most of the bombers are okay. Tridents are really good, basically daggers but a lot tankier. Use em against remnant or battlestations where daggers would just evaporate before firing their payload.

I had been using warthogs as my fighter of choice for most things, they seemed tanky so I thought they'd live long enough to actually do something.  I only used broadswords when there wasn't enough OP for warthogs in the loadout I wanted to do.  Daggers/Tridents were my bomber of choice when available though I gave up on fighters pretty early first time I played.  All I have on this new play through is daggers and they actually seemed to do a lot of heavy lifting.  I had no idea Claws could counter other fighters similar to a Thunder.  I thought they were like "crowd control" to use a term from a different genre.  Basically just there to help disable enemy ships.  Also didn't realize Wasps were anywhere near Talons in functionality.  Eating crew was the biggest reason I dropped all fighters my first time 'round followed closely by them feeling useless.

For fighters, the set of wings tries to maintain a formation depending on the fighter types while travelling. This makes them hit the enemy in a specific order, but also makes the group travel at the speed of the slowest wing. So be very careful of the speed of various wings - adding a Trident to a group of Daggers for example adds more total torpedoes but slows everything down horrendously, making the group take more losses, damage replacement rate more on the return trip, and have lower total damage output.

... Gladius is a worse broadsword....

Gladius has different strengths than Broadswords: they are interceptors rather than heavy fighters and have 100 more speed (base before buffs), and are cheaper. They have less hitpoints, but higher sustained firepower (Broadswords can't fire their guns continually) even though broadswords outnumber them 3 to 2. They have identical per fighter rebuild times, but the total wing rebuild time of gladii is 20 seconds instead of 30 so they are less taxing on a ship's replacement rate if something bad happens. They are also the only fighter that brings flares to the interceptor (300) speed band, so mixing one wing in with other interceptors (like sparks or claws or early game talons) dramatically improves how well they can survive, especially vs precision PD systems like burst pd.

So much awesome here.  I didn't realize they'd try to hold any type of formation, and the breakdown of Gladius vs. Broadsword will be really helpful when comparing other wings.  Things to keep in mind I hadn't thought of.

Mules have the Maneuvering Jets system to keep up with your Sunder, so if you want your Sunder to be able to create enough space to maneuver against the Mule, you'll probably need longer range weapons.
In general, non-beam energy weapons work best on ships that have high speed for their size class (like Medusa or Shrike), due to their significant range disadvantage.

I always used my Mules just as floating storage sheds, so didn't realize that was the ship ability.  That makes a ton of sense.  I also never made that connection in energy weapons of beam generally being higher range than non-beam.  Seems obvious now that you point it out.
Logged

Fireside

  • Ensign
  • *
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2022, 08:00:11 AM »

Also as an aside I'm starting to think I don't have enough fighters present to be meaningful.  Two condors and nothing else unless I get my Legions out of storage.
Logged

DirectionsToL3Please

  • Commander
  • ***
  • Posts: 100
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2022, 02:27:44 PM »

Also as an aside I'm starting to think I don't have enough fighters present to be meaningful.  Two condors and nothing else unless I get my Legions out of storage.
Three wings is enough to be meaningful, if they're good wings. I don't like Condors one bit, myself, because they have so few available ordinance points, but I'll always grab a Mora if I see one floating around in space for free. While you build up to being able to afford those Legion battlecarriers (and they're way more expensive than they look at first glance), a Mora will give you just enough deployment potential to have three very powerful attack wings, two very nice missile support mounts, and enough LMGs to turn incoming into confetti if you put an officer with Point Defense in command.

It's nothing like the dual large missile mounts of a Legion )XIV) of course.  You S-mod Expanded Missile Racks and ECCM Package and use dual MIRVs and a single Legion (XIV) will batter the hell out of an entire enemy fleet.  But a Mora is way, way cheaper to run.
Logged

Fireside

  • Ensign
  • *
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2022, 06:39:40 PM »

I'm also a little confused about the sunder loadouts being suggested.  Tachyon Lance and HIL are large energy weapons.  It only has medium slots.  Which confuses me more because the ones in the sim have large energy weapons equipped.

Edit:  Nevermind, I see what happened there.  I didn't even realize those alternate Sunders were a thing.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2022, 06:45:16 PM by Fireside »
Logged

Salter

  • Commander
  • ***
  • Posts: 213
    • View Profile
Re: New player, struggling with understanding some game mechanics
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2022, 12:52:01 PM »

Ive had positive experiences with Talons early game. They can generally chew ships up in large numbers, even if they take lots of casualties.

Spark Interceptors are deceptively good. They dont bring a whole lot to bear with their weapons, but with the right carrier (Astral), they can be a menace to deal with because they are very fast and have tough shielding. Throw 30 of them at an enemy fleet and the swarm usually swallows whole flotillas.

For sunder I treat it more like a frigate than a destroyer, given it doesn't have amazing armor or shields. SO w. Extended Magazine for mods & an Autopulse laser flanked by Ion pulsers on its sides. In a wolfpack fleet, it functions with frightening power cause it will keep up with your frigates and munch ships they cant punch up to but can quickly overflux their opponents.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2022, 01:14:42 PM by Salter »
Logged
Pages: [1] 2