This is nice very simple game but it really does need a keep your distance order so light fast frigates armed to the teeth with long range missiles dont trundle straight to their ineveitable close in deaths and 2 if you are going to bother with anti fighter close in defences make them worthwile a cruiser armed with all the gucci anti fighter defenses and targetting buffs shouldnt have trouble wiping a single squadron from space as it stands now the only effective anti-fighter defence is another fighter and i suspect most people will figure that out toot sweet and like me wonder why anyone would waste a valuable module space on dead weight.

A keep distance order that would be welcome or a circle the target at a set range order.

Your comments about anti-fighter defences are misguided however. Cruisers kill fighters providing they have a tractor beam to slow them down and an armour value of at least 10 so they can survive to make the kills. A couple of frigates loaded with anti-fighter missiles and a tractor beam will be more cost-effective, but less durable.

It took me a while to realise it, but ships do attempt to keep their designated opponent at the range you set for them. Most ships aren’t very good at it, though.

They are, in fact, pretty terrible about it: it seems like whenever they’re in doubt, they’ll close the range. Which makes it almost impossible to build a fleet based on both range and mobility. If you build for mobility, you’re forced by the AI to build for knife-fighting.

knife fighting sounds gratuitous enough to me

And Monty Python tactics aren’t?

Frigates and cruisers don’t typically move fast enough to justify anything other than the basic “get to range and start pounding” mentality. It would be a different game if the battlefields were huge with zippy frigates and Ferrari-branded cruisers. Perhaps GSB 2!

Dude, speak for yourself - I build those all the time! :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, Frigates anyway.

You can already do this… Sort of.

Ships turn around and try to move away once the range closes to half of the ‘maximum range’ you set. So if you set a max range of 2000, then your ships will first close to 2000, then stop and wait for the enemy to close into firing range. When the range gets down to 1000 they’ll turn around and start trying to keep that as a minimum distance. This is an effective tactic for (fast) missile ships on larger maps (I have a challenge up that does exactly this :smiley: )

It would be nice if we could set both a maximum AND a minimum range in the ship orders, instead of the minimum being forced to half the maximum.

That way you could set orders for ships to close to firing range immediately, but still try to keep out of range of the shorter range weapons. As it stands right now, if you want to set orders to stay out of range of short range weapons, you have to set orders that mean your ships won’t actually engage at all until the enemy approach.

EDIT: and as for cruisers being slow… Tell that to my short range 5-engine variants :smiley: They rip up most challenges, thanks to the enourmous short range DPS of the cruiser laser.

EDIT: and as for my challenge demonstrating use of minimum range… It’s the one with the description “Not hard to beat, but I find this fleet quite amusing to watch vs plasma!” … It’s currently been beaten only 4 times with 50 attempts, and I know one of those 4 victories was me, testing out what I (correctly) thought was the easiest counter. It’s got a soft spot for one specific type of fleet… Curious to know what other methods might beat it (my 5-engine short range cruisers failed, although a small change to their design would turn the tables for sure)

Hah! I just posted a “How fast can you die” challenge consisting of rebel fighters and 5-engine cruisers. I didn’t know about the minimum range being 1/2 the maximum, I just thought there was no minimum since I couldn’t set one and my captains seem to get “bloodlust” and go down fighting rather than doing things like turning.

I am one of those that beat it and the reason i beat it was simply the min range order didn`t work i hit and engaged one flank then rolled up the whole line while your fleet sat there and let me take them on one ship vs my entire fleet at a time and this was with a 1 engined cruiser design with good armour and basic point defence.

It’s not hard to beat that challenge once you know what you’re facing - two scramblers per cruiser will let most any formation beat it - but it’s extremely interesting for it’s sheer novelty. If we had true minimum and maximum range settings, then such a fleet would be deadly as well as novel - it wouldn’t be a peace meal fight, but the escape factor would remain.

I certainly through a bunch of attempts against it just to test the boundaries. Actually, I found that one counter was my own multi-drive missles plus a couple of fighter squadrons with guidance beams. Keep the enemy fighters busy with a bunch of your own, and watch your guided missiles completely outshoot the enemy. Another one is that a fast rebel fleet based on proton beams rips it up, because proton beams go through the shields used by the missile cruisers. Another counter that I strongly considered but didn’t try was to build a fleet based on winning the fighter battle: build cruisers with tons of tractors and “attack fighters” orders - once the enemy fighters are gone, the missile cruisers have no fighter defense of their own and it should be game over.

It’s by far the most interesting challenge in a long time. However, try that with another faction, specifically without the Rebel uber-fighters, and it’ll be much easier. I wouldn’t particularly want to engage the current fleet without Achilles interceptors of my own, purely to counter cheese fighters with cheese fighters.

I beat it with fighters and a line of missile cruisers with point defense. The missile cruisers were set way back and were super slow, giving my fighters time to beat the existing fighters, when the missile cruisers got in range, it was range v range so no one retreated. (My fighters won because of a support cruiser with tons of armor and 3 tractor beams. Eventually, the cruiser wandered too close to the missile line and got pwnd but it had done the job.)

I also found it very enjoyable to throw various things at it (mostly to have them die on me).

I don’t really find it fun to deploy at the edge of someone’s deployment, as it’s really no challenge at all to win like that :slight_smile: Unless, perhaps, I’m trying to win spending 25% of the resources, or something like that. Otherwise I prefer to deploy head on. The AI doesn’t understand the concept of flanks, if it did then the formation would simply rotate to face… Better to deploy as if it’d done that already.

EDIT: well, don’t I sound prissy, haha. That’s an efficient way to beat it, and I did say I wanted to hear the different approaches people took :smiley:

Yes. I hope cliffski notices this thread and considers implementing proper min/max range orders. These sort of orders would certainly be a lot more effective if it were possible to actually make the ships close to range, then try to keep that range, instead of having to set it to 2000 and wait for the opponents to get close, to then get the desired behavior.

Yes, this was how I thrashed it. The cruisers have no anti-fighter of their own, so all you have to do win the fighter engagement. And fitting two guidance disruptors to every ship is, of course, a solid way to smash most missile fleets, although you end up with a fleet that can’t beat much else. I was quite pleased this fleet can beat my 5-engined Rebel cruisers, that one was a fun battle to watch (and those fast cruisers beat almost every other challenge I’ve thrown them at.)

Thanks. And yes, it’s very weak against fighters as it is. A very easy to beat challenge - as the description says - but it’s something a little different :slight_smile:

Technically implementing that in code is easy, but there may be side effects. For one thing, if it is too narrow a range (maybe a minimum needs setting) I can imagine the ships wobbling back and forth between two ranges quite annoyingly (although they only check very 1 or 2 seconds as I recall).
The only current reasons not to do this are

  1. The extra UI needed, without making that part of the game look over complex and
  2. Every AI fleet in the game would need to be re-assessed and rebalanced to take advantage of it, which is fine, but time consuming.
    Maybe at some stage…

I think that a “skirmish” order would achieve what most people want from adding a minimum range. Having the skirmish order would tell the ship to treat the maximum range on the regular attack orders as being the desired minimum too (with a bit of slack so the ship doesn’t zig-zag all the time). Ships with the skirmish order would close quickly to the specified range, then try to orbit the enemy fleet at that range for the rest of the fight.

Most skirmishers would probably be frigates, which would use their high speeds to get out in front of the main fleet where they could engage enemy fighters and other skirmishers while evading larger enemies. Almost nobody pairs up fast frigates with slower cruisers these days, because a fast frigate that isn’t escorting something slow is likely to end up dying to short ranged enemy fire when the AI turns the wrong way while following the “Keep Moving” order. The ability to skirmish effectively and stay out of the range of powerful cruiser modules (especially Cruiser Beam Lasers and Target Painters) would make a mixed speed fleet more viable.

Wobble shouldn’t be a problem, if you set a minimum allowable distance between the min and max (say, 200)

UI complexity doesn’t seem like a big deal in this case - I don’t think a min + max slider replacing the current max slider would be confusing (actually less so, in my opinion. As a newbie, it took me a while to grasp that the ‘maximum’ setting meant ‘close with the enemy until you get within this range, then stop’. I was quite surprised when my ships fired at longer distances, I’d assumed it was more of a ‘don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes’ sort of setting. A tooltip explanation would fix that confusion though.)

I don’t think the AI fleets would need much / any rebalancing, as setting a clever ‘minimum’ range seems like more of an ‘advanced’ tactic, where currently the AI orders for the single player missions appear to be fairly simple. You could just leave them on the ‘default’ (half the maximum) and everything would probably be fine. This would be more of an issue if some/more of the missions had more specialised fleets (which would be awesome - introduce players to the concept of a rush fleet, a missile fleet, a tank fleet, a fighter swarm, etc.)