Hi there! I recently tried out the demo and I was impressed with the depth of fleet customization and how entertaining watching the battles unfold is. I haven’t played many PC games like this one, although from experience with building armies for miniature wargaming, the basic concepts of designing a fleet and positioning ships is pretty similar. After playing the demo for a while, I want more - it looks like the Complete Pack on Steam is an awfully good deal, though I’m curious as to the differences between each army. Are they much different in gameplay, or are they mostly just aesthetic differences? Can the basic concepts of army building I’ve been reading about be applied to every one? As a newbie, it seems a bit overwhelming jumping into it all, but that’s just like any strategy game.
Hello, Dark Marshal, and welcome.
GSB has nine different races; collectively, the Great Powers. The so-called Core Four which ship along with the basic game are Federation, Rebel, Empire and Alliance. The other five official races hail from the various DLC expansions over the years. The actual shipboard equipment available to all nine is mostly identical, with a small scattering of racially-unique modules and weapons amidst a sea of generic items accessible to all.
However, the actual hulls are unqiue to each race. This is more than a purely graphical conceit; hulls can have up to six different “boost” attributes, and any or all of those can be present in either positive or negative quantities. Those boosts cover the variable presence or absence of the following stats: armor, cost, hull integrity, power generation, shielding, and speed. There are many, many possible useful combinations.
Each race has a different overall sort of “theme” to its hulls. Artful use of those previously-mentioned boost combinations is what gives GSB a lot of its battlefield flavor. A very quick and by-no-means-conclusive listing of racial themes would probably have to include the following:
Federation: all-around solid ship quality; rather little focused excellence but no glaring flaws, either
Rebel: a “rush” fleet; extra speed, but slightly smaller ships with fewer slots onboard; Fenrir cruiser is great
Empire: shield bonuses but really poor Fighters; special frigate module which can heal other Imperial ships’ shields
Alliance: nice armor bonuses but really poor Fighters; Python cruiser is a sweet death machine
Tribe: doubled hitpoints but halved armor & shielding; kinetic weapons; very fast cruiser repair ability
Order: extra power production but very slow ships; very cool radiation weapons and even cooler-looking hulls
Swarm: a “rush” fleet, but ships are both larger and more fragile; ship cost discount; their shield disruptor & smart-bomb are cool
Nomad: not especially distinguished ships or modules; sturdy, though, and cool retro-looking hulls
Parasite: likewise, but racially-unique plasma slinger, flak cannon, and missile defense - all 3 systems are impressively strong
This game is also highly moddable. If you dislike some stat within an existing hull, module or weapon, it’s generally possible to alter it. We modders don’t have universal access to everything that’s “under the hood,” but if you check out the Gratuitous Modding subforum you can see how very ingenious we’ve been within those limits for the last three years.
I haven’t done miniatures gaming per se, but despite some small exposure to traditional tabletop kriegspiel several decades ago, I’m unsure what “basic concepts of army building” you’re referring to. Without knowing what assumptions you’re making, it’s hard to answer with more than generalities. I’ll close this post by saying that I’ve been here since before GSB even went public, and I love this game to death. Hopefully that’s enough of an endorsement for you to feel more confident about buying the game. Feel free to ask further questions before you put down your money and take the plunge. As time allows, we’ll do our best to answer them.
One more thing: the Steam copy of GSB may possibly be more than one version number behind the copy that’s available for purchase direct from Positech Games (i.e., here). The latest copy of the game is patch number 1.60. If you buy a copy with a lower version number, you won’t have access to the optional & limited Real-Time Strategy controls which are newly available in GSB. FWIW, that new feature is a bit buggy and we’re waiting on a subsequent patch to fix this. I thought I’d mention that in case such distinctions are important to you.
Thanks for the welcome!
I probably should have elaborated; they’re similar in that you can build a fleet/army from the ground up and customize each ship/unit to fine details. They also make use of many similar tactics (focus fire, flanking, rushing, etc.) to win; they’re strategy games, after all. Of course, unlike a traditional wargame, you don’t control the ships mid-battle in GTS, but deciding what hulls, classes and equipment to build a fleet with reminds me of building army lists for miniature games.
But that aside, I’m a bit fuzzy on how multiplayer works. So far, I’m under the assumption you can create challenges for others to try their luck battling, and can likewise respond to the challenges other people create by building a fleet to counter them. Does this mean you can’t go head-to-head simultaneously with a friend and both watch a battle play out?
Tribe seems like the most competitive (or cheapest) race from all the talk I’ve read about their bonuses; which races would you say are the runner-ups? I suppose it depends on the build of your fleet and how you capitalize on the racial bonuses, but is there a general consensus on the strength of each race/fleet build?
Welcome aboard, DM! Glad to see I’m now senior to 1 guy :).
In my limited experience, I’ve come to the impression that you’re correct about MP. There’s no direct head-to-head. But that’s OK because there’s no direct player control. Because all tactical decisions are made by the AI, and because the AI doesn’t always make the same decisions, and because in ever case the “to-hit” die rolls and such things are always different, GSB is more suited to statistical analysis than active admiralship anyway.
As for the Tribe, being a noob myself I can’t offer much advice yet. However, in my limited experience with them, the following things seems to be valid observations:
Tribe ships are only slightly cheaper than similar ships of other races. This is because the vast bulk of the cost of a ship comes from its modules and the vast bulk of modules cost the same for everybody.
The Tribe is unique in having a repair module for Frigates
IF you’re only building ships for 1-off battles with no long-term consequences and it’s just a matter of last man standing, then the Tribe has a significant advantage. Due to having 2x the hit points, they can get by with fewer defensive modules, meaning that for hulls with the same numbers of slots, Tribe ships can carry more firepower for a given level of combat longevity. This naturally has a snowballing effect as the battle progresses.
OTOH, if you’re doing a campaign where the Tribe fleet is at the end of a long supply line and can’t afford to lose ships any more than other races, the Tribe’s advantage largely disappears. To keep ships alive long enough to maintain frontline strength far from the nearest shipyard, you have to stock up on Tribe Repair Modules. These things require lots of crewmen and considerable power. Thus, a campaign Tribe cruiser will often require 2 crew modules instead of 1, and bigger power plants than before, so their cost and firepower advantages in 1-off battles go away. Even worse, the biggest constraint on building up a campaign fleet (at least to start with) isn’t money but crewmen. Given the huge crews campaign Tribe cruisers demand to staff their multiple repair modules, this puts a huge brake on increasing your fleet size. Despite all this, you still have double hitpoints so your ships are still fairly tough.
Thanks for the clarification. I should say that if you’ve played the GSB demo (which I have not done, being a very early adopter of the full game), you should have some slight experience now in choosing an empty ship hull, selecting what modules and weapons to fill it with, positioning your ships during pre-battle deployment, and also assigning combat orders to them. IIRC, the demo is limited only to the Federation race, but I could be wrong.
Anyhow, what with your tabletob wargaming experience, the remainder of this game follows the same workflow I breezed-past just above. Those basic principles extend across all nine of the Great Powers, so there are no nasty major gameplay surprises in your way. That doesn’t mean this game lacks variety, though. Of course, managing to eventually claw your way up to becoming a Horatio Nelson is another matter entirely - there’s no shipboard module marked “Command Brilliance”.
The multiplayer feature does indeed consist of creating an online challenge, uploading it to the Positech server, and then hoping that whoever attempts it has a lot of fun while still being unable to beat you. It does not support the kind of realtime simultaneous PvP gameplay you mentioned, though.
Indeed so. Allow me to freely admit that they are not invincible, but many times they come damned close. Small mistakes in fighting against them tend to add up quickly, and not in your favor. Expect to get frequently stomped by them while you’re still a noob. At least their racially-unique kinetic weaponry has a very short optimum range, which suggests some counter-tactics.
Easy question, not so easy to answer (for the same reasons you detailed).
It’s pretty hard to go wrong with Federation; I’m quite fond of them. The ships are solid & reliable, though mostly unspectacular. Some exceptions include their Leopard fighter; a very good hull, and also includes two turret slots for extra offensive punch. One frigate (the Fox class) even enjoys a 17% shield boost, which is a very substantial bonus for a small ship.
And the Feds’ Panther cruiser has long been extremely popular because it combines one of the smallest cruiser hulls in the game (which means you get a degree of “passive stealth” due to being harder to lock weapons onto, on account of smaller cross-section) plus a whopping eight turret slots…that combination of traits makes it a really dangerous ship to fight against. (I tend to regard it as the GSB analogue of the overgunned ex-Turkish Agincourt and Erin-type dreadnoughts so boldly requisitioned by the Royal Navy in 1914.)
Consensus is not always easy to come by around here, largely due to dramatic differences in objective player skill level as well as subjective preferred playing style. My own viewpoint, in no given order within each category:
[size=125]Strong[/size]: Federation, Rebel, Tribe, Parasite
Middle: Order, Swarm, Nomad
[size=50]Weak[/size]: Empire, Alliance
The above are general guidelines based upon my long-term gameplay; your own mileage may vary, especially while you are still leaning the game. I lumped many different factors together in triaging the Great Powers, only some of which are immediately obvious. Still, it’s a fairly reliable ruler for purposes of getting started with the game.
So when are you buying?
Thanks for all the info! Consider me an official player now! (:
I bought the game today with the DLC content and I’ve been having a blast playing it. Still getting used to all the different modules and mechanics of the weapons, but I’m learning. I’ve played through a large amount of the battles, tweaking ships and trying out new builds. I’m still not used to using all the different hulls and deciding which is best for what purpose - I’ve been sticking to three or so for each race and class. I’ve been using a simple strategy of lining ships up with cruisers in front armed with lasers and plasma, while frigates trail behind firing off missiles. I’ll have to play around with different builds and strategies.
Well, while Tribe and Parasite are BY FAR the most OP if you know what you are doing, you should still be able to kill any existing fleet with any race. This is because the challenger has an unparalleled advantage of being able to counter the host based on what he’s using. You don’t hear too much about Parasite OP-ness because the SAC community more or less dissolved by the time Parasite DLC came out.
I mean, my online Tribe fleets hit 1 win to 50 attempt ratio at its height… my fleets from other race can only hit 1:10 at best.
Also, Tribe and Parasite aside, there is no single “best race”. But there is an obviously worst one, the Empire. Since you are not restricted to using a particular race in battle, what you want to do is pick the race that most highly optimizes the fleet you want to use, not the other way around.
So, Tribe and Parasite aside, if I want to rush with cruisers then I will want to pick Rebel for general speed bonuses and its Fenrir hull (the smallest cruiser in the game), along with second best fighter in the game and a tank hull that can even reach rush speeds.
If I want to launch plasmas while being completely immune to missiles, I use Swarm. Each of the other races does have 1 or more possible competitive fleets that can handle even Tribe and Parasite… Besides Empire, of course.
Don’t we feel silly now that we demanded Cliffski to nerf the Imperial Shield Support Beam?
Actually misses the original ISSB
Well most guys just wanted minor reduction. I suggested keeping the rate but add a supply limit so matches don’t last forever. But Cliff sort out to kill it completely by limiting it to 1 recharge at a time.
But it’s true if given the choice, I rather see ISSB in it’s former glory than the current useless version. I mean… It’s not that the beam itself is so bad, it’s that you can only put them on frigates. Now if it’s a cruiser module or if you give empire frigate a reflective shield that has 13 shield strength, it will be far more useful.