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Topics - Michael Sandy

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Spoilers / diplomacy with Precursors
« on: October 18, 2017, 02:41:15 AM »
I got to open communications with the Precursors.  Conveniently, that changes the name in the database to the Precursors.  Haven't been able to move diplomatic relations further to the positive.  I have a couple espionage teams on one of their outposts without any complaints or results.

I am not sure if they ever detected by 250 ton scout on actives, but their outpost should have detected it on passives since it orbited their outpost.  I am torn, they haven't done anything hostile, but I don't know what will provoke them at this point.  So for now, I am exploring on other chains.  I will prob use missile drones to survey their outposts.

I expect I will attack them at some point, but there is a minor difficulty:
Unlike games where they attack my scouting and survey forces, I won't have a way of determining either the number of armed ships in the system or what they are armed with.  All I know about is one active sensor, and the speed of one ship that was able to track that active sensor.

Bureau of Ship Design / tractor abuse
« on: October 15, 2017, 03:38:30 AM »
There was a really distant binary that I wanted to explore, for completeness, and I came up with an abusive way to get there.

2 ships with 1 size 50 HS maximum boosted engine, tractor, large fuel tank, enough engineering systems to fix an engine mishap.
1 commercial ship with large fuel tank and tractor
1 carrier, large enough to hold the aforementioned tugs, no engines, lots of engineering systems, and a tractor
1 commercial jump drive ship, tractor, and lots of fuel tanks, big enough to jump the carrier.

I call it a push me-pull you.

One military tug is always in the carrier, not advancing its maintenance clock.  It tugs the commercial relay tug, so you have a tug pair of roughly 100 HS (80 HS military tug, 20 HS relay tug) setting the speed of the whole squadron.

I figure you could get this to about 15k with magnetoplasma, maybe a bit higher.  You could theoretically move a whole fleet of commercial engined or engineless ships this way, if every component has a tractor.  It is silly, and cheating, but I thought it was an amusing idea.

The Academy / Conventional Start Tech choices
« on: October 15, 2017, 03:22:04 AM »
A lot of people talk about waiting to explore or build a military until Ion drives or MP.  Which makes sense, because you probably want at least the 10k Construction techs researched before going for the approx 15k worth of techs needed to get jump drives and surveying.

But I like to get geo survey done early, so the civilians can start popping mines for me.

I made a mistake in my last start.  Get cargo handling before you get the civilian economy going.  As a result of not doing that, I have a lot of civilian ships without cargo handling.  They are fine for longer haul, I suppose, but it is still a bit inconvenient.

My theory is to be as cheap as possible in terms of the necessary techs to get started on surveying.  Boat bays instead of going all the way to hangars.  I would feel differently if I had a decent Logistics scientist.

So small engineering bay, which is vital to my scouting pinnace strategy.  Efficiency 5 jump engines, so I can have a 250 ton pinnace design, and a 500 ton EM sensor equipped longer endurance version.

Then I shift almost completely to construction techs, (and improved command and control), to improve my economy.  So I will be exploring on a shoestring, scouting carefully, dropping 15 ton Long Watch satellites (50 year endurance) at all jump points, because my Grav survey ships are actually carriers.  Theory is I want a cheap jump point watch that doesn't take much room to store.  And microfighters compare well to sensor missiles, and don't require launcher overhead in terms of how many you can carry.

Theory is to build somewhat more carriers than I have grav sensor pods to put in them, and just cycle the carriers in for maintenance and shore leave when a new carrier comes available to take the survey pods.

While I am researching construction techs up to the 20k or 40k level, I have scientists in all the major categories with 1 research lab, to try and get their skills up.

My long term plans is have a continually expanding civilian ship yard to get to very large size, to eventually build Terraforming Module ships, either making them engineless and also build a large tug design, or cheese it with two small tugs in a tractor chain.  Once I have a large enough Terraforming fleet, I can switch it over to making asteroid mining ships, I suppose.  Because there will be extrasolar high availability rocks that won't ever become civilian mining complexes.

Last game, I wanted to have missile sensor buoys at all jump points, but the tech available for that was so much after my survey techs that I had 40 systems scouted before I started.  This way, I can put the long endurance 'fighters' in the leftover space in the boat bays and later hangars.  And I know the grav survey ships are going to be going through every jump point I encounter eventually, so they make a great candidate.

This also meant that I could build a couple fighter factories early, and pre-build a large number of Long Watch satellites, keeping them employed until I got the techs to build grav survey pods and pinnaces with my fighter factories.

So that is my conventional start tech theory, what are your approaches?

The Academy / Best commanders, administrators
« on: October 13, 2017, 06:28:11 AM »
So, 20 years into a conventional start, I see a report that one of my officers hit 75% fighter combat bonus...

And my planetary governor is not bad with 35% shipyard, 35% factory, and 25% mining, with a small amount of wealth bonus and pop growth bonus as well.  Not the best I have had, but pretty good for this early in the game.

What is the highest bonus to a scientist you have seen?  60%, 65% seem about the top I get.  I think I saw a 70% once.

The Academy / How do I create an alien start?
« on: June 04, 2017, 04:34:54 AM »
I am a bit stumped, I selected the create an SM race option, and no system was created with it.  Can someone point me to a video perhaps explaining the step by step for creating an alien system to start from?  I want to do a conventional start in an alien system, and I am missing something important.

Bureau of Ship Design / Odd fighter ideas
« on: May 06, 2017, 07:35:48 PM »
So I have been having difficulties with retooling and refitting issues, and I wonder how much savings I could get just by having a hangar on every major ship.

So then, I develop a new sensor?  Build a 500 ton fighter with a 450 ton sensor and nothing else.  Want a new flagship, but don't want to redesign or refit anybody?  Build a 300 ton fighter with a flag bridge.  Maybe even leave it at the jump point.

It would be more expensive on the ship, paying for the hangar and the hull for the fighter extra, but if I can make up for that with being able to upgrade more easily and save retooling, it might be worth it.  Not sure if it would be worth the management headaches though.

Part of my notion is that I want to develop fighters organically, I want to be able to make use of my fighter factories as I build them, and not have them sitting idle while I wait to develop tech.  I have been getting great use out of building pinnaces for scouting new systems.  I have lost about half of the ones I have built to various hazards, but they got me sensor data on what killed them, and have allowed me to explore lots of systems without fear that there was something there waiting to eat an expensive ship.

The Academy / Is there a way to SM Jump Gates?
« on: May 06, 2017, 04:48:52 AM »
I would like to Space Master in a Jump Gate, because I accidentally deleted the orders for the wrong Jump Gate construction ship, and wasted 175 days of work.

(Nevermind, found it on the F9 System Information screen)

The Academy / Question about Alien installations
« on: May 04, 2017, 04:02:56 AM »
I got one that says it can boost research, but it doesn't say what field or how much.  How do I find out?

Do I need to do a geo survey team survey?  It doesn't show up as an archaeology colony.

Spoilers / I *believe* in scouting
« on: May 03, 2017, 08:24:50 PM »
It is my new religion.  Pinnace scouts WILL visit every planet BEFORE survey assets enter the system, OMFG.

K, 3 precursor systems, 2 found by scouts, with valuable information gained, 1 found by a blundering geosurvey ship, the only information discovered was that they had missiles.

And 1 system discovered with Swarm, this before I have ION drive.  Fortunately there is a loop of systems, so my fleeing survey ships won't lead it back to Earth, they are faster than the carriers and will eventually get out of range.

And miracle of miracles, while we lost a pinnace to ramming and the Grav Survey ship left on the Jump Point for the purpose of finding out IF the aliens did indeed know about Jump Points, and actually rescued life pods this time, with 2 days left on their life support.  Even better, the rescuing pinnace was my long endurance one, and actually has the life support to take the 32% survey commander and 13 crew to safety, with only mild strain on the life support.

Said commander is probably going to be renamed Mark Damon or Matt Watley. ;)  (Thanks to Drgong for THAT idea)

Advanced Tactical Command Academy / Growing the civilian economy
« on: April 30, 2017, 05:45:12 PM »
So I just had a game with a huge duranium crunch, and I was rescued by the civilian economy, so some tips:

The shipping lines seem to require that you have a nuclear thermal commercial engine developed, as well as a colony with infrastructure on it before they build a colony ship.  And they build more if the ships they have are in use.

So once you see them build a freighter, make sure you have contracts for it.

But be sure to take breaks in those contracts so those freighters will ship you wealth and infrastructure on their own.

It seems to take about 2-3,000 infrastructure on Luna (with pop to match) before the computer really starts shipping your civilian produced infrastructure.  As I had a major duranium crunch coming up, getting the civilians starting producing infrastructure was essential to my plans.

I used a small colony ship with LOTS of cargo handling to ship colonists back to Earth, so that Luna would not become overpopulated, and worse, so the civilian cargo ships would not go idle, as I needed the wealth flowing to get them to build more and more ships.

One of the quirks of computer colony ship and freighter design is their lack of cargo handling systems.  So I would really like to know if their loading times are affected by Spaceports.  If so, you can greatly increase the return on the Earth Luna runs, and to a lesser extent the Earth-Mars runs by building Spaceports.  It is fairly simple to build a Spaceport on the moon, even though you can't ship them direct.  Just build a small freighter with a lot of cargo handling systems and shuttle factories to the moon, + the materials for it, and then ship the construction factories back when done.  Two spaceports on earth and two on the moon and you almost triple the income you will get from shipping colonists.

And once the moon is over 25 million, you can make money periodically reversing whether the Earth is the source or destination of the colonists.

16 years in to a slightly boosted conventional start (800 million pop, 9 research facilities, 3 naval academies) I have 29 civilian mining facilities.  Earth has been 6 years from running out of minerals for a couple of years now, as I frantically convert mines to automated and ship them out with the civilians.  I wouldn't have been able to afford duranium for the ships needed to ship all my mines out and build the mines.  It was touch and go as duranium fell below 2,000 a couple of times, and i had to shut down shipyard expansion and shift production to converting mines, but now my economy is back on track, all thanks to my early efforts to boost the civilian economy.  +20% research boost to the civilian economy and +wealth leaders and the Sector Command bonus helped too.

Just kind of curious, especially for those starting from a conventional start, what systems and ships do you develop before popping into another system?

My incomplete list:

Sensors capable of detecting a populated planet from pretty far out.  This can mean large sensors, or it can mean long ranged sensor probe missiles.  Which means a ship to launch them, and all the missile technology that means.  Of course, you don't need a very big missile to detect a civilization, once it gets close.

Getting your missile shot down counts as a successful 'detection'.

My planets must have SOME missile defense.  Maybe meson PDCs if I had a good EW scientist, but more likely it will be PDCs with AMM launchers.  And again, I feel I need anti-missile sensor systems developed before I probe another system.

I figure I absolutely have to have a jump drive capable of getting my survey ships through, and possibly my small freighter/colony ship, the ones under 12k or so.  I definitely want a tanker of some kind, to set up a forward fuel base, although I generally survey with such efficient drives that my survey forces will complete the survey before they run low on fuel, at least for small to average systems within a jump of my home system.

I also want the capability of building a fleet in a hurry.  And while I really like missiles, it is kind of difficult to build up both ships and missiles at the same time.  If I am building a fleet in a hurry, I would be doing things like mass producing lasers, power plants, and engines with planetary industry, in order to turn out ships as fast as possible.

The next issue has to do with economic exploitation.  What distance do you exploit at what engine tech level?  Do you build jump gates so your civilians can get in on the exploitation, or just build a civilian jump ship to escort convoys?

If you started with missile bases, do you build real missile fire controls for them, and build some size 24 missiles to shoot from them, or do you go with smaller, easier to research missiles?

What kind of shortages prompt you to head out early?  What kind of resources would prompt you to significantly delay?

For example, I am contemplating a serious mercassium shortage.  Venus has lots at .2, along with duranium at .6 and some other stuff, so it is economically mineable, sort of.  But there isn't another deposit larger than 10k in the solar system.  Teching up in the solar system isn't possible without more mercassium, or without building a crap ton of automated mines for a .2 accessibility resource.

The Academy / What exactly do officers do?
« on: April 19, 2017, 04:46:18 PM »
So some of the abilities it is pretty easy to see how they work.

Logistics speeds the loading and unloading of ships.  And if you put an officer in a logistics slot in a task force, they train up to >50% in about 10 years or so, so between the fleet command bonus and the ship captain, you can get a 100% increase in loading speed for not much investment.

Fighter bonus increases the accuracy of fighter beam weapons, and if you build a bunch of cost 1 BP 'fighter' PDCs and park your fighter bonus officers there, they tend to train that up.  RP-wise, I am reminded that the Japanese started WWII with a very experienced and well trained fighter pilot force, but because they flew very fragile planes, they tended to lose their pilots over the course of the war, resulting in them having much lower average pilot quality towards the end of the war.  In part because they were so hard pressed they couldn't cycle experienced pilots back to train new ones.

So if you spend 10 years training up a bunch of high quality fighter combat bonus officers, if you LOSE them, suddenly your whole fighter force is a lot less effective, because it takes so long to train up good new officers.

Fighter OPs supposedly was supposed to improve fighter reload time, but I have heard that it is borked and actually increases the time it takes a hangar to reload fighters.

Now, if the task force commander has a mining bonus, do asteroid mining modules get a boost too?  Or sorium harvesters if the TF commander has a factory bonus?  I am also trying to figure out if asteroid mining modules are better or worse than automated mines.  The asteroid mining modules take less space to ship, and benefit from naval mining officers, but the economics of it seem to depend on how far you have to ship them.

What exactly do operations, intelligence, and communications boost?  Is it worth putting early officers into a dummy task force to train them up?

The Academy / Civilian contract help please
« on: April 17, 2017, 03:35:29 PM »
So how exactly do I do these contracts?  I presume that I create a demand contract at the colony I want the stuff to go to, but do I need to create a matching supply contract somewhere else?

And how much is shaped by what scientists you get?

For example, I experimented with setting my shipyard to expand, and making 2 more slipways, so that when I get geo sensors and Nuclear Thermal engines I can build 3 survey ships at once.  However, I am not satisfied with that, because I survey the whole solar system in 2-3 waves of survey ships, and then have nothing for them to do until I develop jump theory and grav sensors.

So I am thinking of just going with one slipway, but continually expanding it, and then at about 10k tons, retool it with a placeholder design, all geo sensors or something else expensive, and use it to build almost any smaller design.  That way, I can even use it to ship infrastructure to the moon or mars, if it turns out either is a good colonization candidate, so I can get my colony started early.  Possibly with luxury liners if I lack a logistics scientist to get cryo quickly.

As until all conventional industry is replaced with TN industry, there is nothing that gets more economic bang for one's buck, my purpose in early surveying is to determine what techs I will most need.

If the only good mining sites are comets, I will go for asteroid mining module and tractors.  If Mars or Luna or the Jovian moons are good sites, Terraforming bumps up the priority list, (as well as tractors).

If Venus or Mercury have lots of minerals, automated mines come into play more.

If the whole solar system is missing some critical mineral, I have to go for jump theory early.

Now this doesn't take into account the civilians.  I would like to know what infrastructure you need to get the civilians started on mining, because I would love to just pick a wealth creation administrator and expand my production, and build as few mines myself as possible, until I have to switch over to automated mines.

Oh, and my industry priority before TN is build as many military academies as possible, so that I can get the good scientists and administrators.

Aurora / Opposed survey
« on: April 04, 2017, 11:03:34 AM »
Inspired by the Alpha Centauri Arena and the other links here:

A mix of strategy, tactics, and priorities.

Similar to the Alpha Centauri Arena, the two sides enter through jump gates about 1 billion km apart, and they have 100 k or so research points available.

But the objective is to survey the intervening space, probe the jump point leading out, and if things haven't been resolved by then, to survey the discovered system(s).

There is at least one jump point out, and it may lead to an El Dorado system, a junction system that shortens the distance to both empires, or some other interesting strategic goal.

Players start with a survey fleet that has used 7 billion km worth of fuel and a year on their morale and maintenance clocks, and 1000 BP.

7 billion km back, they have a nodal response fleet and maintenance base, (fleets there are fueled up and full morale with no time on their clocks), comprising of 3000 BP.

7 billion km further back is the capital, with 6000 BP worth of response force.

Unlike in previous set ups, production technologies won't increase the size of the initial fleets.  It WILL affect the monthly builds from the capital.  Players can try to plan for a long or a short war, rather than the choice being between a larger, low tech fleet and a smaller, higher tech one.

I figure the economy of both sides will be 2000 BP x the square root of the mining, construction, and wealth technology multipliers.

Production will be discounted by the production techs available, like ordnance, fighters and shipyard tech.

Certain technologies will be discounted, at least 50%.

Emergency Cryo, Salvage, Cargo Handling, grav survey, construction brigades and possibly jump engine tech.

There won't be explicit fuel requirements, other than all new production will have traveled 14 billion km, and you have to pay for the fuel.  So fuel efficiency tech isn't a bad idea.  I am toying with the idea of having various small asteroids available, both in the contested systems and in the systems leading to them.

Players will have the option of increasing their survey fleet size, at a cost to the size of their response fleets.  Each BP would cost 3 BP from the nodal response fleet, or 6 from the capital response fleet.  So players can go with larger initial fleets at the expense of immediate reinforcements.  This makes scouting and probing a lot more important. Similarly, the nodal response fleet can be made bigger at the expense of the capital fleet, and vice versa.

I would like to explore what people would arm their survey fleets with if they were competing against players instead of the AI.  And do they go with small expendable, low signature survey craft, or with concentrated survey power, including multiple survey instruments together with an escort.  Do they hunt enemy surveyors, or focus more on completing their own goal?

Some tie breaking conditions:
Capturing enemy ships, crew
Crew losses (which can be reduced if crew pods can be rescued
Surveying beyond the contested system, bonus points if you can find the jump point to the enemy nodal base.
Salvaging enemy technology. Figure that salvaged enemy ships are worth about x10 as much as destroyed enemy ships.

Some caveats, I have little experience, and would not be able to run this, nor would my computer be able to handle it.  This is as much the seed for a campaign as for a one off extended scenario.

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