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Cluster Wars (formerly Empyrean Challenge)
Thanks, as a relative novice player, this has been a very valuable thread! A few comments and questions. First of all, I don't understand the bringing of the alien population back to your HW and "re-educating" them. I left all the alien pop there and added some of my own, and they seem to get along fine, no rebel activity, etc. Am I missing something here? I have made many of these same blunders and others. One thing I have learned is, be flexible. I forgot to take unassembled structure to my colony-to-be, so I disassembled some of my ship structure to use, as I was lucky enough to have some excess space. Worked brilliantly. BTW I have ignored Power Plants up to now. There seems to be plenty of fuel available for the time being, it is METS and NONS of which I am running out. But I may pay the price for ignoring Power Plants later. Finally the alien ruins in the next system: believe me, it is tougher to take than you think. I have made two attempts and not yet managed to take it. You think that by the combat results that you need just a LITTLE bit more to accomplish the successful attack, but in reality the "up to half" population drafted for militia means that if you send too little in, it will defend with only what it needs to, so then when you send more in, it will defend with more. An experienced player told me that you will need 10 million combat factors to take that (smaller) alien colony. It may be less now that they are running out food and the pop is dying off at 30%/turn.
I didn't have evidence of rebellion in the alien outpost, but I suspected there might be some issue there in the future, so I just replaced everyone with my own "race". Probably not necessary, but also harmless.

I think the concept of a "race" could be done away with. Everyone is "human". You could deal with takeovers by having rebel numbers go up upon takeover of a colony. It's not clear to me what the benefit is of having population split out into races. Maybe Vern has something he can share on this?

Your jury-rigged colony construction fix was brilliant. Wish I had thought of that!

Power plants save fuel. It's not that fuel is in short supply right now, it's that ships and energy weapons and shields GUZZLE fuel once wars start happening. Maybe power plants are a good investment, or maybe it's more efficient to focus on mining tech and just extract more out of your unlimited home world fuel deposit. I haven't done the math. Might be interesting to figure that out.

As for taking on that alien colony -- I should alert readers of this thread that Vern posted some info about that via email. At the start of the game, some players had their scouts probe the defenses of these alien colonies early, and were met with full resistance because the auto-return-fire flags were set on those colonies. Apparently in later turns those flags were changed, which explains why my 3 scouts didn't provoke return fire.

So Vern, sensing that some players might get an edge by having successfully probed the defenses before the flags were changed, has now informed everyone that each alien colony has 100k energy weapons at tech level 10. That is a big deal.

I am hoping my missile focus can help, here. I have calculated the distance at which my missiles will all hit (minus whatever he shoots out of the sky), which appears to be a distance that would divide his energy weapon damage by 6. I need to confirm this, and to calculate how many of my missiles I can expect he'll shoot down, to determine how many will hit. 100k EWP-10 -- I'm probably gonna need a bigger boat.

Which brings me to the next turn (ie: the current turn). My setup for the new missile cruiser failed due to lack of transport capacity. Rats! Luckily, Vern had to rerun the turn and I managed to convince him to delete the setup order. I also think I botched my colonizer YET AGAIN by failing to include construction workers. But taking a hint from you, Chirp, I will draft some CNW from my scads of pros and unskilleds. Hopefully my colony will finally go up this turn.

I will also re-try building a missile cruiser. Note that Vern has discontinued the old SETUP order, so I will try out the new way of using a temporary ship ID and doing ADD-ONs to that. I am not at my home machine right now, so I forgot what tech I invested in this turn. I am hoping I put it into Beamers (and started a production run), since it's looking like that could dramatically simplify my in-system development.

If I get my mining (and other production) balanced out, I'm going to have to decide on military tech. I kind of hate the idea of buying into energy-shields, just because I wanted to specialize and not do this blanket-tech-advance thing. But if I'm going to be facing 100k EWP-10, I might need to bite the bullet. I suppose I could also invest in space drives -- higher speed ships are harder to hit -- but it might not make enough of a difference against such superior firepower.
I may have confused which turn I was looking back on. Seems like my last investment in tech was pumping Mines up to 7. So as I formulate my orders for this turn, I am considering the following:

- shutting down some old factory groups to cut down on raw material consumption
- researching Beamers, Energy Shields, or production goods
- building a missile cruiser (or set of cruisers) to test the alien colony with
- setting up my in-system hab world colony (finally)
- shifting more production over to consumer goods
First -- sorry for the long post, but there is a lot to cover!

I am looking at my options this turn, with an eye to taking over that alien colony, and it's not looking good.

It has 100k Energy Weapon-10s. Energy Weapons damage capacity scales up by tech-level-squared, so each one delivers 10 (base) x 10 (tech level) squared = 1000 damage units. If I spend my entire research budget this turn I can boost my energy shields up to tech level 7. Each one of those deflects 10 (base) x 7 (tech level) squared = 490 damage units, which is about half. So to deflect a full broadside, I will need about 200k EWP-7.

The damage delivered is further modified by distance, ship speed, and sensor tech. If I am building a big missile cruiser, I won't have enough space drive capacity to have high speed -- space drive tech is still low. The main thing would be to come in at around 30 distance units, where my missiles will all hit and his damage will be reduced a lot. So I probably won't need the full 200k Energy Shield-7s. This is good because lighting up a full set of shields would cost me 10 x 7 (tech level) = 70 fuel units. 200k of them adds up to 14 million fuel -- EACH TIME. There are 2 attack phases each turn (pre- and post-maneuver), so I'd have to budget 28 million fuel just for the shields, for one turn of combat.

That's not completely awful, because I've stockpiled about a billion fuel at the homeworld. But all that fuel is going to add a lot of mass to the ship, slowing it down and costing even more fuel to move it. I have a bit over 6 missiles stockpiled for each launcher, so that's 2 turns worth of combat. My energy shield fuel budget is now 56 million (plus hauling).

THIS is why I like Power Plants. At current tech I am saving 10m fuel per turn at the home world (which is currently burning over 70m fuel/turn to keep everything running!)

Anyway, what will I get for this large investment? I have a stockpile of missile-3, which do 900 damage each. I have about a million launchers, so each salvo can deliver a max 900 million damage. Woo hoo! But first, the alien colony gets a FREE round of energy weapon fire to shoot them down. (Not sure if this burns their fuel, but I would complain if it didn't.) The formula for shoot-downs is based on relative tech, so I can expect their 100k EWP-10 to shoot down 66k missiles.

Furthermore, damage against ships/colonies is divided by a factor, depending on the type. Vulnerable ships take full damage, but dispersed open colonies (like this alien one) divide incoming damage by TEN. I might also want to target their military systems instead of just causing general damage, which drops another 20% off. So now my 900m of damage per salvo is more like 67m. With two salvos per turn, that means I'm targeting their military sector with 130m damage.

I do have another batch of missiles and launchers tech 5 coming off the line in 2 turns. With around 600k tech-5 launchers, each salvo would deliver 600k tech-5 missiles each hitting for 2500 damage units = total potential hitting power of 1.5 BILLION units. They would be slightly harder to shoot down as well, so only 40k would get taken out, so with two salvos I can expect to hit them with roughly 220m in targeted damage that first turn, fired from a higher distance.

Immediate options:

- build missile cruiser now, hit them with 2m missile-3/turn for 67m targeted damage, diminished by their laser fire and with my ships unshielded
- build missile cruiser in 2 turns, hit them with the missile-3 AND missile-5 for up to 300m targeted damage, ships unshielded
- research energy shield 7 and build them now, to go into a missile cruiser 5 turns from now, with perhaps another batch of missile-5 and fully shielded.

And this is only the initial bombardment! Word on the forum is that those 1m ground combat factors they have will be supplemented by an emergency draft of all able-bodied citizens, to the point that we'd have to deliver a solid 10m ground combat factors to overwhelm them!

I could build a batch of assault weapons and military robots to shoulder the brunt of this, but that will mean keeping my factories pumping at a time when raw materials are running low.

I could count on heavy bombardments taking them down first, but then I'm destroying the very population and materiel I hope to capture!

And simply moving that amount of hardware and people is going to cost a fortune. (We're gonna need a bigger boat.)

THIS is why I love this game. Each one of these game mechanics is very simple, but taken together, it presents a big challenge to mount an invasion. And this is against a single small-ish foe, for which I have solid intelligence. I shudder to think what it's going to be like in conducting a war against human opponents, about whom I know little, with far more moving parts, and all of whom doubtless are handling THEIR empires far better than I!

* * *

Okay, I had drafted these notes days ago. Just now, however, I realized I don't even have the Hyper Engine lift capacity to carry all the missile equipment, let alone the fuel, invasion troops, supplies, etc. Space drive capacity is about the same. So to move this amount of material, I will need to build a big pile of engines, along with the energy shields. So looks like option 3.

I am pumping energy shields up to 6 (not 7), leaving enough tech to pump space drives up to 5.

I just finished a big pile of Factory-7, so I am disassembling some large Factory-1 groups and setting up production runs for Energy Shields and engine power.

Assembling about 1m Lab-8.

Shifting all production in the orbiter to Light Structure.

Setting up in-system habitable world colony FINALLY, by drafting a batch of constructors out of my pool of professional and unskilled labor. This includes Farms and Mines, and should start producing immediately. This is my first time using the new "temp ship/colony ID" method -- the old "setup" method is now obsolete. I figure I have a 50/50 chance of this actually working.

I have a LOT of factory-7 not yet dedicated. I am holding off to see what my raw material consumption is looking like for the next few turns.
Well, another turn, another couple of disasters!

First, my new in-system colonization attempt failed AGAIN. The error messages suggest that the add-on failed because the distance was too far. My impression was that tactical movements come first, so I moved the ship to the 0,0,0 coordinates of that planet. Then my add-on orders would happen. Then I could execute a "Move" order to move it back to the home colony orbit. THEN, in the post-turn email from Vern, he said that we are still supposed to use the "Setup" order for setting up new colonies, not the "Addon" order like we now have to use for ships.

So, either I got the order format wrong, or I got the turn processing sequence wrong. Either way, my colonizer is back in the home orbit again, with 12m colonists burning away fuel to run life-supports. AAAAARRRGGHGHG!! (This is why I figured I had a 50/50 chance of having it work. "Learning Game")

Second, the hydroponic farms in my orbiting colony have been so productive, their produce has squeezed everything else out! All factory production has stopped due to lack of space! Time to put in a standing order to pump excess food down to the planet...

Third, I am out of consumer goods! My early-game doubling of the consumer goods production line had served me well, but relentlessly training my population for professional work has raised their salaries! I had already swung some factory groups over to help out, and that has mitigated the shortage somewhat, but basically every box of product I make is hungrily devoured on the home world instantly, leaving nothing for me to send to the orbiter, which is now starting to sprout rebels.

There is one more looming problem, though not yet a crisis. The high-yield mineral deposits on my home planet will run dry this turn. That means not only am I restricted to using the lower yield "unlimited" deposits, but I lose the use of 3m mining slots! This is not a disaster yet, because I have a fair stockpile of raw materials, but I can't ignore it for long. Not only do I need to keep making stuff, but I have tons of high tech factories now, which will burn through raw materials that much faster.

Someone posted somewhere that the home-planet "unlimited" deposits form the basis of the economy for a long time, so I could pump up mining tech. 3m mine-7s won't meet my needs, but 3m mine-12s probably would, for a time, anyway. So basically I'd have to keep mine-technology a couple of steps ahead of factory technology.

OR, I could plant mines through all the other planets in the home world -- draining THEIR high-yield deposits. So either I build (and successfully manage) a few more in-system freighters, or I develop Beamers FAST. I'm thinking the latter.

On a positive note, I have another million Lab-8s to assemble, and I started up fat production lines for my swanky new Energy Shield-6, Space Drive-5, and Hyper Engine-3 tech. In a few turns, I will have the means to launch a fully-shielded missile cruiser capable of dominating that alien colony.

I still don't have 10 million ground combat factors to throw against it. Maybe I can do a production run of 5m military robots, which are worth 2 points each at tech-1. I could probably have those running one turn behind, if my raw materials hold out. Brute Force FTW!
Again, one novice to another. The tactical maneuver comes first, so that is not the problem. BTW a fairly new feature in Central Command is the filling of the orders tab, which is megauseful. It shows the orders you have entered for that s/c in the order they will be processed! I am pretty sure your problem is too few Space Drives. Your colony ship will be heavy so you need lots of space drives to move it in close spaces. I have also been caught with too few space drives. Your maneuverability is shown in the stats iab under "max speed". If should be at least about 12 or 15 if you jumped close, much more if you didn't. Your Space Drive-5s will have more than 10 times the lift of the SPD-2s. I still have 2s but am researching SPDs this turn. Too bad you moved the colony ship back to your HW - if you have too few SPDs it will just move as far as it can, and then on the next turn you can finish the move (that's what I did, as I had luckily left the ship there to see if there was something I could transport back).

You need to use a setup to create a new colony. In fact I don't know how you could do it with addons, as addons need a target, and since the colony hasn't been set up, there is no colony number yet to use as a target (you find that out the turn after you build it).

That your high yield mineral deposits are running dry are an indication of success! While I still have plenty left in my high yield deposits, I am running out of raw materials and have had to reduce production and scrap things until higher tech mines come out in two turns. It is important to get your colony up and running so that you can supplement your HW minerals with those from the colonies.

Agreed, mine tech needs to be in advance of FAC tech (someone also warned me about that). My MIN-3 and FAC-5 are the source of my resource problem.

I recommend building beamers now to transfer home resources from in-system colonies. Very useful!

Tech is the key! Get those LABs up and running ASAP. If you have been busily recruiting maximum Trainees as the Introduction mails suggested you should be good!
I checked my max speed, and it was 10 something. My understanding had been that if you do a "move" to an orbit with "close" checked, then you'll be within 10 units.

I suspect the reason for the order failure was that I used the new Add On order, by setting up a temporary ID first, and applying the add-ons to that. That is how it is supposed to work with ships. I didn't know that colonies must be set up using "Set up", and I wonder why it is necessary to handle them differently. Maybe Vern can comment?

I am already resigned to this being a "learning game", so I didn't insist that Vern re-run the turn or manually edit my stuff. It's likely in fact that there is a rule somewhere that I didn't read. What got me, in this case, was Vern's high profile alerts in his emails telling us not to use "Set Up" orders anymore.

I think I will make this the turn in which I finally research and build a big batch of Beamers. Then all I need to do is plant a starter base on each planet in the home system, beam over colony materials, and drop professional labor off. They can mine those deposits and beam it all back home.

On research, I was HORRIFIED to find that one other player is generating on the order of 30m research a turn. This drew my attention to the fact that I tended to leave a buffer of unemployed professionals in place, just in case I miscalculated something. My buffer had grown to something like 10m highly paid pros, and there were unassembled Labs sitting in my inventory! So now I am generating a sustained 25 or 26m research per turn, and I think I can bump that to 28m this round.
Submitting orders again...

Moving ALL food from the orbiter to the home world, to make room. The people are fully stocked, and their farms are making more than they need, so no worries.

Finally researching Beamers up to tech-5. This gets me competitive, an also leaves me enough research to boost Assault Weapons up to tech-6. These will be needed to deliver the estimated 10m combat factors on the alien colony.

Each ASW-6 is worth 72 combat factors, so I will need about 140k of them. It so happens that I have a batch of shiny new Factory-7s ready to go, of which it will take a measly 12k to build all 140k assault weapons in 4 turns. This will be my SMALLEST factory group by far, which is encouraging. I have 5.5 MILLION new Factory-7s.

Last turn I started a production line to build all the newly-researched Energy Shields I will need to fully protect my missile cruiser. This turn the same with ground forces. Looks like my military production capabilities are good. Up to now I have focused my production power on the economy. Assuming I can keep my raw materials pumping, I have the capacity to produce military quantities that can absolutely crush these pesky aliens.

Other PLAYERS, however, will be another story...

I also have 4.3m Lab-8s to assemble. I don't have enough professionals to run them all unless I shut down the 3m old Lab-1s. The net boost to my research is 7.2m, bumping me up to around 33m research per turn. NOW we're cooking with gas. It looks like I have the capacity to run around 22m labs. If I built a new batch of Lab-8 -- enough to replace around 12m Lab-4/5, then I'd be up to 44m research/turn. This might be the way to go, since I am not ready to put more research into better Labs yet.

13m Lab-8s will take 3.2m Factory-7 to build. Good thing I have them! But it means shutting down the older factory groups. With another 3m Factory-7 coming off the line next turn, I am shutting down all Factory-1 and Factory-4 groups (letting them complete work-in-progress).

Were I to pump all the rest of my new Factory-7s into making Beamer-5s, I would have enough Beamers to teleport the equivalent of my entire home colony each turn. This is probably excessive, so I will go with half. The other half will build military robots, transports, and just for giggles a batch of heavy Structure-1. Most people put research into Light Structure and build copious quantities in their orbiters. But the old-fashioned ground-built Structure-1s can absorb more of the combat damage my ships will take.

As for my colonizer, I am adding lots of fuel and food. I have no Consumer Goods to add, because my home population is sucking it all out of my factories! Same problem I had with Food some turns back. So I'm sending them off without any -- I'll get rebels, but I don't want to delay colonization any further. In 4 turns I'll have a big batch of Beamers and a bigger batch of Consumer Goods to beam out there.

Missile cruiser and other ships will wait as I build more ship-making stuff.
(04-03-2014, 05:22 PM)ixnay Wrote: Finally researching Beamers up to tech-5. This gets me competitive

I seem to recall you feeling competitive, when we played in Far Horizons, together. How did that work out for you? Feeling competitive in-game, again, already?
Long time since my last post. Sorry!

This game -- my favorite of all -- is going down the crapper.

First, I seem to have major calamities occur pretty much every turn because of some interdependency I forgot to check. This turn, I told my construction workers to scrap all my old laboratories, because I had a large pile of higher tech labs ready to assemble. While I was at it, I thought I would scrap some of the other ancient hardware I have lying around -- factories and mines at tech level 1, which are now more valuable as recycling. Lo and behold, I ran out of construction worker capacity midway through all these jobs. Now a big chunk of my labs are disassembled, but none of my new ones went up, resulting in a loss of well over half the research I was expecting this turn.

Last turn I started building a new ship, and apparently miscalculated the space requirements. In the available space went my hyper engines and space drives and life support -- but no crew. So the ship was instantly declared "alien" (in that I no longer controlled it.) To get it back, I had to launch an invasion. I figured "okay -- I want to put troops on there anyway", but somehow my assault craft weren't included in the invasion order. My soldiers had no transportation units to bring them into battle. All of which strikes me as odd, considering that this is an utterly empty ship, that is (presumably) DOCKED to my homeworld.

This is all compounded by shortages of food and consumer goods. I had set up some new farms on the home world, but apparently ran out of space THERE, so there wasn't room to assemble them. Not enough food. Towards the beginning of the game I was so proud for doubling my consumer good production lines, and had it in my mind that I was good for a while. But the large-scale shift of population into high-paying professional jobs meant that my need for consumer goods went WAY up.

Apparently there are a number of ships flitting about my home system now -- some of the friendly, some unknown. There are 3 other players I am now entering into some form of alliance with. This is mainly for tech-trading. But through them I have learned the state of development of some of the other players, and I am just WAY behind. Economically, navigationally, and in terms of military tech and readiness. This would all be fine if I were merely turtling, testing out the game, and just having fun tweaking things. But some of the other player groups are now switching emphasis from early-game economics to mid-game military expansion.

After all my earlier talk of military tactics, the importance of information, and ship design options, I am dead vulnerable to massed assault by big fat ships with Energy-Weapon-10s.

I may catch up in the tech race by joining these other 3, and will likely strive to be a viceroy in one of their growing empires. Which will still be fun. But I am disappointed. It probably didn't help that I missed 2 turns in a row. (I had figured that my factories were still producing, my labs were still researching, and I wouldn't fall TOO far behind. Not sure if that was true.)

I will continue as best I can, but if stuff were up to me I would want two things:

1. A new game. A reset. Call this one a learning experience for us all. This is highly unlikely. Every player has already sunk many hours into their positions, and the well-organized players most of all. It might be remotely possible to ask Vern to start up a second game while keeping this one going, but who's going to play it? The most-vested players have their hands full in this one. There may not be enough interest to get 20-30 people assembled for another round. Also, I don't know how much work it takes to run this on Vern's end. Vern?

2. Major improvements on the user-interface, to warn players of gaps and impending errors. This has been discussed before, and I am not talking about perfection. But it would have been nice to see a counter tick up the number of construction workers my orders needed and have it turn red when I exceeded my supply. I am of half a mind to hand my position over to a teammate and focus my efforts on helping Vern with user-interface coding...

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