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Hivers caught in the corner

AAR SotS Hivers

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#1 Space Voyager

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 05:57 PM

We start as Hivers, a bug-like race that is better at building stuff than research. But that statistical difference is by far the only thing that differentiates us from others. Those soft skinned, scaled, furry or even feathery creatures may hold the key to faster than light travel and we may crawl among the stars. But once we get there, we are the only ones to hold the knowledge of instantaneous travel among our gates! Those are our true treasure and will never be known to others.

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This is our known part of a galaxy:



It is a 100 star map and we are in a corner. One could be thinking; cool, we have our back covered! But there isn't a real "backyard" in SotS. At least not for long. When speeds and power sources pick up everything is within reach.

What this starting position brings to our empire is VERY limited expansion. Moving STL only before setting up the gate means that the galaxy will be explored before our second exploration wave is finished. From there on it is a slow and painful expansion and if you are unable to make a large gate network, you're finished. Being able to move in a turn is a blessing, but if three cruisers are all you can move that isn't much of a help.

Expanding in all directions would be a great bonus for us because it would mean a lot of gates and that would help in defence even if we would have to fight on multiple fronts.

The game was started with 6 players on normal difficulty and AIs have one colony extra. Because of this they start with everything half better than me. Production, research... So I need to catch up.

Lets explore our neighbourhood first.
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Our slow interstellar speed makes long-range scouts useless in the beginning. We need gates and fast. Also when we find a good planet we can't wait another 10 or more turns before our gate would get there. So our exploration fleets are made of a tanker and a gate. Very expensive exploration but time is of the essence.

Soon we meet Human colonizers.
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But their escorts don't show any respect.
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Soon our two empires fight mercilessly.
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Humans aren't our only neighbours. There is also a Morrigi empire. When we visit one of their worlds we trigger a menace; the swarm. Their planet was infested and after we retreat in a hurry, the planet is their only target...
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I hope Morrigi won't blame us, they should have cleansed the system sooner.

#2 Space Voyager

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 07:56 PM

Those pesky Humans keep pressing us wherever they can!
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We are in deep trouble as they do succeed in destroying our gates, lowering our gate network capacity. You can see it in the upper edge of the map view, there is a triangle by it. Each DE takes 1 point and each CR takes 6.

Our research so far...
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Hoping for a lengthier expansion we invested a lot more into terraforming than in our whole previous TAR. I hope we survive long enough to see it pay off.

Seeing that we lag behind the research of others we went for cruisers as our ships can take more pounding than any other. CRs have a chance of survival and that can take the load off our budget.

Also we went for armour piercing rounds. Normal Gauss weaponry started bouncing off those Human ships and AP will stop that. Just a small confession; there are emitters ready to be researched. Those could help us a lot earlier in the game but for RP purposes we went for ballistic immediately, the Hiver way.

Our usual CR command section is strafe section. That gives us a lot of medium mounts in the front and with AP drivers it is a poor bug's heavy combat laser imitation.

Than it became obvious that warfare alone can not win this war for us. Diplomacy with Humans is lost IMO so we went for Morrigi. They weren't too hostile from the get go and they are at war with Humans, too! BTW, I may speak of races but this refers only to our nearest neighbouring empires. So far.

All we can afford is second tier Morrigi language but that is enough even for alliance. But something about us is bothering them... We can't even make a non-aggression pact to hold. It is definitely not the mihgt of our empire, we are the last. Perhaps it is the weakness... and the prospect of conquest.

As if the fate didn't hit us hard enough, VN came to visit. They are pretty regular so you need defensive forces strong enough to destroy their drones at all worlds. They destroyed our gates at non-colony worlds but this is weakening our network and it takes us time before we set up new gates. I hope new defences will hold up to them.
And so I complained about VN and all... when spectres visited Asbekyz.



Really, what did I do to SotS gods this game?!

Spectres, energy beings, living in node-space. Sometimes, when somebody disturbs them, they come out. I didn't disturb you, go see the Humans, dammit! Our colony is destroyed. Utterly.

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Our gates and defence force are already on the way. I am not sure what we are going to find there but in any case, this is a serious blow to our empire. We only had 5 colonies and this was one of those with all trade routes filled.

Well, as usually, we learned something the hard way. We already knew that only energy weapons can get to them but we had no idea that laser PD seems to hurt them at least somewhat, too. Our only real option is to have some PD heavy ships around our worlds. Perhaps that is enough. Anything more costly would not be optimal - spectres are VERY rare. And only PD (so far) can help us in regular combat as well.

Ah, to tell something about the only strategy that may work against Humans, being mind-boggling fast in our eyes;
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What you see are four decoy fleets. Yes, not one of those are real. They were only sent to (potential, too) Human worlds so that they would feel the need for defence at home - and leave us alone. The decoy fleets are now accompanied by two real fleets, heading to both their known colonies. We hope to at least hurt them considerably, at least one of them. If we can get something more out of it, even better.

Oh, so how come they don't know those fleets are decoys? Our fleets are a tanker and a jammer. That is the only tech keeping us alive right now. They can't tell which fleet holds how many ships - and as Humans they can't really sent scouts to check our fleets out! If that were Tarka, Morrigi or Liir, it might not work as well (although that is a sound strategy against the AI in every case).

This much so far, do come back for more! And do tell what you want to see most. If you feel you want to give strategic suggestions but lack the data, tell me.

#3 Space Voyager

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 09:46 AM

Last time I forgot to mention that our attack fleets were synchronized to arrive in the same turn. This is always good. The more the merrier. A turn before both our fleets arrive...
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Well damn. Morrigi are here in force and I don't want a war with them. Who knows, perhaps Humans will dispose of them. I definitely don't want to be caught in a crossfire so I decide to wait it out.

Sadly Humans decided that world can not be defended against two fleets (they didn't know I'd stop a turn short of arrival) and they shifted the lot to the other world I attacked. So I was left with one well guarded Human world and was also left with no choice but to attack the other one, where Morrigi won't move away.
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Plenty of happening! Battle fleets, decoy fleets... A lot of time is spent in battles.

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A lot of turns spent with Morrigi diplomacy were lost here. They went heavy combat lasers heavy and if our whips were not fortresses... We managed to destroy them and set up a gate.

The same goes for second Human world - we set up a gate there, too. Than all our ships were cramped around the gate and jammer!
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Enemy didn't find us so the next turn first reinforcements were sent in through the gate. Our planetary assault is still consisted solely of assault shuttles, so we sent a few decoy ships to one side of the planet to draw the fire, while an assault shuttle fleet dived into the planet on the other side. In the first attack I moved the carriers away too soon and left the shuttles with no PD support - which led to their complete destruction. Next two turns we knew better and that sealed colony's fate.

Meanwhile our decoy fleets hide in the shadows.
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We are far behind others in research. FAR. Not only because we gave them head start and were than also cornered - also because we are not errrr... the brightest of species... We are very late in the fusion race as practically everybody else has it.
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The interesting part here is that after going over 50% I cut down the research investments. I am hoping for a breakthrough (which later did happen) and I get a lot of spare money to invest into trade. And more ships.

Currently known situation:
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I'll have to scout somehow... But it takes AGES with Hivers. AGES I tell ya!

Anyway, we attacked the Human homeworld. Perhaps all would go well - if they didn't have a damn station.
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And while usually you want your stations to start away from the enemy, this one got me pretty good. Twice it started next to my forces and that revealed my position! Our first gate was destroyed and we had heavy losses! There still is hope though as the station is now destroyed and perhaps we will succeed with the planetary assault and maintain an open gate. Our gate capacity is getting better and better, perhaps there still is hope for our people.

I figured that I am more or less unable to go past a certain diplomatic threshold with Morrigi... Seriously, they jsut won't budge. But we do have a possible answer to that.
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Ugly MF, but as diplomacy goes, powerful stuff. I'll try to brainwash Morrigi to like me!

#4 Thorondor

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 12:53 PM

Wow, I know you're not having an easy time of it, SV, but I'm loving it thus far: decoy fleets, spectres, and now psych guerrilla! Neat stuff! :D

::

An idea: I imagine gates and fuel are a limiting factor, but might amping up on cloaking techs help you scout beyond your current confines?

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 01:56 AM

Can only second Thorondor, it's great stuff.

Those spectres seem like bad news, what rouses them?  Travel, battles, littering?

Sending out those decoy fleets and your real fleets was a class move, sir, when I read that a grinned and clapped like a performing monkey.

Those propaganda ships sound like a good tool.  Are they counted as fighting ships for battle purposes?

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#6 Space Voyager

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 09:40 AM

View PostThorondor, on 1st January 2010, 1:53pm, said:

An idea: I imagine gates and fuel are a limiting factor, but might amping up on cloaking techs help you scout beyond your current confines?

We tried the first step in deep-space exploration, see below. But having cloaking is not bad. I had to check and it actually is available, which is a small wonder for Hivers! With AI (again, see below) it might not be that bad to try it out!

View PostFullAuto, on 2nd January 2010, 2:56am, said:

Those spectres seem like bad news, what rouses them?  Travel, battles, littering?

Sending out those decoy fleets and your real fleets was a class move, sir, when I read that a grinned and clapped like a performing monkey.

Those propaganda ships sound like a good tool.  Are they counted as fighting ships for battle purposes?

I just did a pretty thorough search in Kerberos' forums to answer the Spectres question... It seems to be completely random, presence of Humans or Zuul in the game is not required. But these two races can meet in node-space and such an encounter can trigger Spectres in such a battle, too. I've had whole fleets eaten.

Propaganda ships are counted as any other cruiser ship in the battle and if you don't have sufficient forces with you it will appear in it, too.

Update;

As we are lagging in research and mostly everything, I went for a small gamble. Artificial intelligence is COOL but it brings a risk; if it goes bust, you can have either all AI research lost or worse; get an AI rebellion! That would mean loosing some of my colonies and before I'd get to them as Hiver... the AI forces could grow beyond my abilities soon.

We were lucky!

This is our research so far;
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After AI things go faster so I went for serious upgrades of existing weapons and for a high-end ballistics - impactors! Can't wait to try them out in battle... And an upgrade in net capacity is incoming! BIGGER fleets to be teleported but I will need to change the gates to cruiser sized that cost pretty penny.

Human homeworld is OURS! Sadly we lack the weapons that would not destroy that over-100 infrastructure, but hey, this will be our second best colony!
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Oh, this is how a Hiver world looks like;
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Not that I was happy to see it in battle... I am growing really tired of this Morrigi empire. The pic you see was taken in one of their attacks and they don't like us no matter what. Not only that, they destroyed my pretty expensive propaganda ship.
Having removed Humans as serious threat... we are up for a challenge. We need to go somewhere, after all.

Decoy fleets to three Morrigi worlds! And an impactor heavy fleet in the making for the real thing!
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You can also see our two refinery deep-scan cruisers going places, recording what they see on the way. Being refineries and only fuelling themselves they can go FAR.

Empire update;
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#7 Space Voyager

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 11:47 AM

HA HA, I was wrong! Our gate capacity was instantly doubled!!! Wooooohohooo! Still, We can build cruiser sized gates now and we'll definitely do it! Those can take A LOT more pounding before they are destroyed. And AFAIK they do additionally increase network capacity.

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 02:59 PM

Can AIs go rogue and become a force to be reckoned with then, start their own empire and such?  Even if it's just a minor thing like a little rebellion to put down, that's still a very nice touch.

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#9 Space Voyager

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 05:51 PM

It is NOT a minor touch... If it happens you and all others are in serious trouble. AI has all ships with AI command sections (very good manoeuvring and accuracy) and is VERY fast at "populating" and research. Luckily the AI virus tech does offer some help!

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 09:19 PM

That is very cool.

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#11 Space Voyager

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 04:28 PM

Funny we were talking about AI... Heh.

The research since last time;
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So we are going bigger. We aim for flying fortresses, dreadnoughts. We'll get there. Soon. If we survive.

Ok, this was a good thing:
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They finally gave up. Sadly I lack the Xenotech to simply take over their worlds and frankly I don't plan to invest there. Killing time. We're not the only ones liking their colonies though and we are SLOW.

So I'm feeling pretty good about myself and so forth. When THIS appears.
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It is the Puppet Master. One of the Grand Menaces. Grand. Menaces. Not minor ones like VN or Spectres. Oh, how come Spectres are a small menace, they killed our world, right?! Well, read on.

This is the world it was headed to. What you see is Puppet Master at the doorstep of Iti'kepre, a dead rock, which I mined to zero. Still, it seems like a good idea to stop it here instead of waiting for it to come to our colonies. Because this is not its last stop, trust me. So you also see my ships being gated in from three worlds where they are frantically being constructed. All brand new, able to kill from a large distance. LUCKILY we have impactors, huge range and big damage.
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To get a better look at it...
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After that I didn't take any more screens of the battle, it was just too horrible. Ok, let me just explain what PM does. It takes ships over. Like, it shoots them with its beam weapon and they act as its puppets. Hence its name. This puppeteer beam has quite a range, but far less than impactors. Aaaannd it has weapons of its own. Even if it didn't...

The battle went BAD because you see, I didn't think of an issue; that when it is not my colony, the fleets start close by. So before I can pick up my jaw from the floor, like 10 ships-of-the-line are taken. Puppets. Shooting at the rest of my ships. CRAP. The only reasonable thing I could do was retreat and save the others.

The next turn PM was leaving and I was able to get my ships back to Iti'kepre and set up a gate. And look where PM went.
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Yes, this time it is a colony. But the PM is not alone any more. It has my own ships accompanying it.

The problem has grown.

So it arrives at Etos'che. I do much better but...
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My world was taken over. It is now an artificial intelligence world!

Next turn:
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PM leaves as if nothing happened while I am forced to destroy what was my world a turn ago.
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A small comfort. PM is damaged and its followers are fewer and in worse shape than after last battle.

This is where it is headed. It and 26 Morrigi cruisers!!!
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Perhaps I can consider myself lucky that they are both headed for the same world, if I survive Morrigi attack at least I'll have some forces there already.

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Oh, I'll survive Morrigi attack. I tell ya, impactors are COOL. With deeps scan ship to see beyond their range they do wonders.

So now we build more and ship them to Epre'Chax to meet the damned Puppet Master.

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 05:03 PM

Is that the final count in that screen, 20 enemy losses toy our 2?  If so, that's pretty good going.

Grand Menaces eh?  Judging by how quickly the PM grabbed your ships, it definitely deserves the title.  Are the GMs random too?  I mean, compared to your last game, you're not having any luck; I don't just mean versus the rival empires, I mean random events keep slapping you every time things start looking up.  Do these happen to the rival empires too, and do you have anyway of knowing apart from observing them come under attack, e.g. messages through diplomatic channels, and what have you?

It seems to me you've been quite unlucky this game, if this was a film half the audience would have left at the sheer implausability of your bad luck.  Attacked by 'orrible fings from the depths of space time after time...

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#13 Space Voyager

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 07:51 PM

View PostFullAuto, on 3rd January 2010, 6:03pm, said:

Is that the final count in that screen, 20 enemy losses toy our 2?  If so, that's pretty good going.

Grand Menaces eh?  Judging by how quickly the PM grabbed your ships, it definitely deserves the title.  Are the GMs random too?  I mean, compared to your last game, you're not having any luck; I don't just mean versus the rival empires, I mean random events keep slapping you every time things start looking up.  Do these happen to the rival empires too, and do you have anyway of knowing apart from observing them come under attack, e.g. messages through diplomatic channels, and what have you?

It seems to me you've been quite unlucky this game, if this was a film half the audience would have left at the sheer implausability of your bad luck.  Attacked by 'orrible fings from the depths of space time after time...
Yes, that is 20:2 losses! The incredible range of impactors and their knockback effect really minced their ships. And those were my ships with dated armour - I'm producing these because I need numbers for PM fight and armour really won't help me against it anyway. Contrary.

Any menace can appear anywhere. Once in a game. After a while, it goes away. If you live to see it. Some menaces can come back if they are not destroyed.

Other empires may inform you of an impending attack with a plea for help in defence, not a direct message like "destroy PM". Also if you are allied to them you have the option to view their fights so that definitely is a direct information.

And this game definitely is a stream of bad luck, really. You can definitely reduce the bad luck factor with starting a new game when you start cornered like I did. Actually the first time I started this game it was in the middle of the cluster. Than I remembered I forgot to give the AIs an extra colony... The next time it was what you see.

If these were hard AIs I'd be dead by now most likely.

#14 Space Voyager

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 08:21 AM

BEWARE, SPOILERS!!!

Than again, you can't expect spoiler-free AAR anyway.

A short update this time but I had to spill that out.  :D

Ok, this is not uplifting.
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I didn't know it is HEALING, dammit!

So it arrived.

I immediately send ships to all sides. I must determine which one is the first PM target.
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The damn PM has deep-scan capabilities obviously as its (formerly my) ships target mine from impactor range. PM follows the group with my CnC ship Voditeljica (Leader in female gender, err... leadress ;) ). Impactor ships are named Komar - Mosquito. You can also see my defence satellites Mušica (small fly, DE size) and Muha (Fly, CR size).

Basically my fleet composition is not very complex this time - I just need the range.

As soon as I figure out that PM follows the group to the left all other ships target it and are set to follow it. It mustn't get out of range! Impactors make quite an impact!
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This picture was meant to show the impactor ranges, all crossed over PM. It seems as though these overlaying features aren't taken by in-game screenshot command. But it does show that PM actually reconsidered its attack. It was being pounded from all directions and it has only taken one of my ships under its command!

The damage is beginning to show! Our morale rises!!! And Puppet Master is trying to get away!
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Last breath of PM...
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And there goes the last of its followers, too.
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That really made me breathe easier. I took the time to update all battle ship designs with latest armour. And ate some soup.  :)

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 09:13 AM

That last screenshot looks very final.  I take it the Puppet Master won't be back...

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#16 Space Voyager

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 09:55 AM

That last screen was of a ship PM took from me, really. The deaths of menaces are far less dramatic - the last pic of a PM is taken at the same moment (paused - both in battle and sensors) as it blew up, so there was nothing spectacular to see at all. As far as explosions go Kerberos decided it wanted more work to be put into what you see all the time and that is ships going into atoms.

Otherwise I love the idea and the execution of these grand menaces. Puppet Master, System Killer, Peacekeeper, VN Construct... Gotta love them.

They only appear in 100+ (or is it 80+, I can't remember) system maps and after turn 100. Than there is a slight chance for each menace to appear in any given turn wherever around the map.

System killer can definitely ruin your day, especially when you are playing as Human. Your nodeline web that you rely on can be completely transformed after several systems cease to exist...

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 10:05 AM

Quote

System killer can definitely ruin your day, especially when you are playing as Human. Your nodeline web that you rely on can be completely transformed after several systems cease to exist...

:D

Already I want to go back to the good old days of hyperspace interferene and asteroid belts.  Hold me.

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#18 Space Voyager

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 07:27 AM

Ha, it is nice to see the buggers this late in the game... I'd be bothered by them in the beginning much more, in this era they are more or less harmless.
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What you see here is the progress of our two scouts Skavtinja (Girl scout - refinery and deep-scan CR). The bottom-most line is our new propaganda ship Trobilo (Wind instrument, also a man who tells everything to everybody) hoping to make it to another Hiver empire beyond the closest Morrigi enemy. Somehow nobody likes me in this game, not even my own kind.

EDIT; Ah crap, I posted already by mistake. Meh, so there will be more posts in this thread. :D
EDIT2; I need to move some pics from the next post anyway.

Same view in political mode.
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Ah, now we go BIG.
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Just a COOL view of our assault shuttles going for a Morrigi planet...
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...and sadly not making it...
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Morrigi has dreadnoughts as well. And we are both low on the overall scale. What do others have?! We need to prepare! That proposed cloaking is really tempting. For now we go into empire techs.

We set up a gate over another Morrigi world while decoys fly in all directions.
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Morrigi did intercept of few of those though and most are destroyed.

Meanwhile we also researched Armada CnC tech and the result of both...
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Our first DN fleet!
Armada CnC ship Matica (Bee queen) and Impactor dreads Sršen (Hornet).

It would be best used to crush the head of the dragon, why just step on its tail?! Homeworld it is!
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No fancy assault shuttles this time. Just pure firepower and colonizers to settle the planet. We rely on impactors heavily.

#19 Space Voyager

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 08:02 AM

The design of a science space station Premislek (Reflexion) is complete.
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We want to catch up, don't we?

And sensors station Teleskop (need translation?).
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Also you see other stations available so far.

More empire development.
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I see I missed a few research shots... For this one we went over megafreighters so we have CR freighters being built.

This is worrying...
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Our Tarka enemies have deflectors. Those can render our impactors useless... But it is not the Tarka empire that worries me. What is that other Morrigi, the leader in everything doing?!

We will NEED this. Most others have AM already.
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Our first station is built.
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Some editing; sensors data from a turn before and battle data before it loaded. We ship all available impactor ships that we can find and everything else up to the network capacity.
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Things do NOT look good. That is 4 Morrigi DNs! Let's put impactors to a real test.

Niiiice!
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Nicer!
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What you see is that Morrigi have ships loaded with missile PD so none, absolutely none of our torpedoes gets through! We have launchers on the command (assault) sections of our impactor ships for those who get close enough.

This is what happens when a Morrigi DN comes into range.
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They are completely laden with beam weapons. Relatively short range but once in it... They won't miss.

Things went SURPRISINGLY well! Colony is toast though.
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That impactor range and the lack of deflectors on their ships does wonders! Somehow I have the feeling impactors may get toned down in the upcoming (this month) update... They are overpowering but I do admit that if we should meet a deflector fleet with at least decent firepower we would not last long.

Oh, a quick clarification; deflectors are front mounted shields that won't let anything ballistics-related through. Not even torpedoes. Nor impactors. So than you need some serious manoeuvring to get behind them. Impactor ships are not really experts in manoeuvring and with Morrigi beams they wouldn't last long enough to be positioned.

EDIT; OR you can use energy weapons, on which we will focus more after we tackle cloaking as Thorondor suggested.

Well, this much for now, people.

#20 FullAuto

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 10:06 PM

Amount of beams on that bugger.  Looks like a web!

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LOL!  Fantastic.

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