The Dark Side

A word of warning. This thread covers topics which frustrate many players, but trolling or flaming will not be tolerated. Please use constructive criticism where possible to avoid heated arguments.

Many of you may have played games from the Worms series, a collection of artillery games featuring bazookas, grenades, machine guns and exploding sheep. Some players of these games would use excessively defensive tactics, such as using construction tools to deflect enemy grenades, or digging deep underground and using these burrows to hide from enemy fire. These tactics, though effective, would draw out the game and detract from the fun of it, so they came to be known as “Dark Side” tactics. Players who used such tactics were usually shunned.

Likewise, GSB allows a number of tactics which are considered unethical. I am ashamed to admit that I have used one or two of them myself. For those new to the game, I will list them here:

Bait Balls - Placed at the front of a fleet formation, these ships are armed with little weaponry, if they are armed at all. Their sole purpose is to draw enemy fire, distracting from the much more dangerous ships behind, or splitting up enemy formations. Since intelligent pilots and captains would know to ignore such ships, this detracts from the realism of the fight and makes it frustrating instead of fun.

Spamming - Equipping all hardpoints on a ship with the same weapon, or using too many identical ships in one fleet. In moderation, this isn’t too harmful to the game, but fleets that overuse this tactic are not much fun to fight. If every ship uses only one weapon mounted on all hardpoints, or nearly all the ships are identical, the fight quickly becomes dull.

Tanks - These ships are extremely slow, as almost all of their equipment slots are filled with armour. This raises the average armour rating of the ship higher than the armour penetration stat of any available weapon, meaning that only lucky hits can actually damage the ship at all. Taking out these ships is a slow and tedious affair.

Turtling - This tactic involves using densely-packed formations of cruisers, with an excessive focus on defence. These fleets can barely move, but are heavily armed and almost invulnerable. The only countermeasure for fleets of this kind is to either start spamming with fighters, or start turtling with your own fleet, which slows the whole battle to a crawl.

I fear that I may have made a few unethical choices in building my own fleets as well, so I am going to list my more dubious tactical choices for you to give your opinions on. Please let me know whether you think these tactics are ethical or not, and if you feel I should alter my ship designs, please post your suggestions.

Missile cruisers - These cruisers are equipped with a variety of missiles and are designed to engage enemy ships at very long range. They only rarely have non-missile weapons.

Heavy assault cruisers - Equipped with a couple of beam weapons and lots of plasma cannons, these cruisers sacrifice accuracy for raw firepower. I mainly made these because I enjoy the visual effect of plasma weapons.

Dogfighters - These fighters have only one order: destroy all enemy fighters. Only when they have eliminated all opposing fighters do they turn their attention to the larger ships. With no fighters left to oppose them, they quickly swarm the capital ships and pick them apart.

If you have encountered other “Dark Side” tactics, or have an opinion on the tactics presented here, please feel free to speak up, but try to avoid offending anyone, as this is likely to be a controversial subject.

Okay, my $.02 on some of the tactics referenced. (Note: You may notice below that I take the “Gratuitous” in GSB quite seriously. To me, only half of the game is “kill the enemy”. The other half is “make a good show out of it”.)

There are a couple of exceptions here that I would like to point out:

Ships equipped with multiples of one weapon: I don’t see anything wrong with this as long as you only use a few ships of the type. That makes them specialized ships, an entirely valid tactic. Making an entire fleet of nothing but the same specialized ship, not always so fun.

Too many identical ships: The reverse of the above point. It’s reasonable for as much as 3/4 of your fleet to be the same ship design - as long as that design is at least somewhat generalized.

The spamming I find extremely dull boils down to too much of one weapon (or sometimes, one type of weapon) to the point where it completely dominates the fleet. It’s gratuitous once; afterward it quickly gets very boring.

These fall a bit under my “spamming” points above. There is nothing wrong with either of these types of ship design - it’s when you overdo it that things tend to get kind of repetitive. The most annoying part of these designs to me is that they tend to have a glacial speed that sometimes requires running the initial stages of battle at 4X just to avoid waiting a minute and a half for weapons range to be achieved. That’s not gratuitous at all.

Sometimes the best way to kill a fighter is with a fighter. Dogfighter squadrons are an entirely valid tactical choice and can be used to very good effect. Personally I find “frigate-killer” fighters much more annoying - however, I can’t really blame the player for that, since it’s the game’s internal mechanics that let one squadron of rocket fighters slaughter every frigate on the board in a matter of seconds.

Some good points here. I’ve edited the “spamming” part of my op to accommodate them.

Quite a few of these I believe I fall under - but in reference to unethical I would like to point out that most of these tactics are drawn to an equivalent of real life tactical situations. Although GSB falls far from a realistic space combat simulator I like to place my fleet under a shroud of reality if these physics were possible.

Equivalent to picket ships. Every navy prior to radar (and even with radar) had lighter, somewhat disposable ships, in order to either find the enemy or warn your own vessels of an incoming fleet. Although not meant to die - their loss would not be a substantial detriment to their own side. In GSB I use light frigates to anchor a fleet. When one is destroyed - that generally releases the fleet to engage and keeps the formations from spreading or breaking apart prior to engaging the enemy.
Also bait balls could be equivalent to decoy ships which attempt to move the enemy fleet into a disadvantageous position.
These are tactics that have been used to sucker enemy fleets even with intelligent pilots and captains. As the observant Admiral you might have more view of the battle than the individual units that may be operating under the shroud of combat.

Although I use less hull varieties than most I do specialize the hulls. No ship can be armed with a bit of everything and be successful. Historically Battleships reduced the amount of superfluous secondary weapons to a minimum to maximize as the potential of the largest weapon that they could successfully mount. Point of fact, HMS Dreadnought’s secondary weapons were rendered useless if its main weapons were fired due to damage of the mountings. Specialist ships came into their own, cruisers with solely Anti-Aircraft weapons, destroyer sized “Monitors” armed with Battleship size cannons etc.
As for a number of the same styled ship, The R. Canadian Navy had 3 classes that comprised of more than 2/3 of all its other vessels combined. River Class Frigate, Flower Class Corvette and Bangor class Minesweeper. The Fletcher class destroyer of the USN falls in the same idea - almost as many were launched as the combined amount of all other classes post 1939.

Meh - My bad - annoying I know - but it is one of the few ways to defeat a rush by forcing the enemy to stall at a distance where your ranged weapons have some use. Other wise it would fall to tribal rush victories every time.

Well - fleets generally fight in formations where each other’s defences can aid their partners. Carriers are always surrounded by a swarm of destroyers who’s sole purpose is to sacrifice themselves in order to preserve the heart of the fleet. 1600’s often had fleets chained to each other in a defensive raft, and the height of the age of sail ships would fight under reduced sail at a walking pace blasting closer and closer until the gunners of both sides would be able to stab at the other side’s with pikes through the gunports.
Turtling though - slow speeds, makes ships extremely vulnerable to plasma.

The idea is to win the game. No admiral in reality wonders if his tactics are ‘ethical’. I realize this is a game, but it is a very open slated kind of game allowing individuals to find their own tactics. The races are differing enough that tactics can be far an varied - but I have not found one tactic, fleet design, ship class that is every truly invulnerable.
Caveat : Without silly map sizes or restrictions

It can be controversial but the Dark Side, if taken in the view of author L.E. Modesitt represents the good guys. As stated - I try and view the grand scheme as an actual combat simulator and randomly throwing a mish-mash of ships spread over a huge map out of mutual support would make an Admiral’s career quite short.

Every ship I have has a sole purpose other than just being Gratuitous. Each ship is designed for a purpose even if it is to take on enemy fire so it’s weaker siblings can continue to launch long range attacks. You can make a Rebel Cruiser with 4 MWM for under 1600 with shields, armour, speed of 0.11 and defence laser. Cheaper than some frigates.

This might make for some boring tactics - but some people love the uber rapid death kills of BattleField 2 while others mod it to make a drawn out game hours long where a sniper team will sneak around for 10 minutes for a single perfect kill.

Why is GSB graphics screwing up on me?

I can understand your reasoning. However, the main reason I play this game myself is to witness large-scale space battles like those seen in sci-fi movies and TV shows. I have always preferred games that sacrifice realism for the sake of fun. What this basically boils down to is difference between us in the kind of game we like to play. I like hectic fire-fights, with lasers, missiles and plasma screaming through space and ship hulls exploding on all sides. You (I’m guessing) prefer meticulously planned strategies and cunning ploys that can take hours to pan out, but usually result in total victory.

If you’re looking for realism, however, I have noticed one flaw in the GSB game engine. All engines appear to have a minimum speed, and no amount of equipment can drop the ship’s speed below that, no matter how great the weight it carries, as long as it has one engine. If the game were realistic, overloaded ships would not be able to move at all.

Tried it out, and yes the speed function looks non-linear to me… But in space with the lack of friction any reaction engine given enough time would still move the ship. As it is the engine functions are not realistic - ships wouldn’t stop and their linear motions would be conserved.
Providing the engines are reactionary - but for all we know they operate completely differently like the SDF-1 Fold space systems. (Depending which Macross version one is currently following)
But we have to attempt to arrange our realism around the limits of the game engine. Nobody really knows what space combat would truly be like, I think only the Russians have even fired a weapon in space (not including ICBM’s).

I like to win - and I like the challenge to get that win, and retaining that win. A search function (depending on the date, it has been a while) would show the period when there were tournaments where many differing tactics came into play. Trading challenge and retaliation trying to desperately tailor a fleet that can defeat not only the submitted challenges but will retain its victories against unknown retaliaitons by other players trying to usurp your glory.

Oh and I am all for the gratuitous part - but I want my fleet to gratuitously annihilate (though in turn it does itself get annihilated on occasion) the enemy fleet - seeing a mass concentration of hundreds of plasma and missiles zeroing in on a single victim and watching it rip apart in a boiling fury before switching targets to see the next target get ripped apart. As fighters charge in a grouped clump awaiting for a ship’s shields to collapse before unleashing volley after volley of rockets. Beam weapons tearing open armour to allow laser fighters to open up a cruisers hull like a tuna can with an m80 inside.

But to do that I have to get that fleet to its target in a cohesive unit other wise it is a bunch of smallish skirmishes, fighters dying off unable to do a thing since nobody came in to weaken their targets, frigates ripped apart uselessly as they are unsupported by either fighters or cruisers, and then cruisers dying piteously unable to inflict decisive damage as they seem to mount a random bewildering array of weapons that can neither assist or enhance its ability.

I tend to read more than watch and I have nothing but admiration for David Weber and Steve White’s space operatic battles.

Still waiting for D Weber’s next novel…

One thing is obvious: your skills are far beyond mine. Although I was able to destroy your first retaliatory attack, and had fun doing it, I could barely scratch the next two, even when using the same “Dark Side” tactics I’ve listed above. This, combined with the long wait before battle was actually joined, caused me to give up in frustration. This is a game, after all, and there’s really no point in playing if you’re not having fun.

Which is why I like GSB as opposed to FPS where my colour blindness age and lack of wasd/mouse skills become blazingly apparent.
We play to enjoy the game - GSB gives as the choice to play which challenges we like and how we like and we can just hope when GSB2 comes out a dedicated tournament server can be implemented.

PS. I was once crappy too - but the ability to grind away and reply a battle ad infinitum to get the most out of each ship/weapon and to see over and over how a single order can completely change a battle is at your fingertips.

Can you tell I was a Civ junkie?

Well, I think the best conclusion to this thread would be that “Dark Side” tactics are best suited for careful, patient strategists, but not for those who like fast-paced, chaotic battles, like myself.

And on another note - dark side tactics have yet worked for me on challenge 5106484 by Finebone.

Must resort to uber fast nomadic sting ships perhaps?

I have no qualms about “dark side tactics” at all, perhaps with the exception of using lure fighters (i.e weaponless fighters whizzing about only to draw ranged fire). I hope GSB2 makes inefficient weapons not shoot at targets it can’t hit or harm at all, and that fighters need motherships.

In any case, the reason I don’t really see the problem is that GSB gameplay is all about rock-paper-scissors. There is no such thing as an unbeatable fleet. It is perhaps possible to do that using very clever restrictions that would essentially force the opponent to create the exact same fleet and hope for the best, but I doubt anyone would go through all that trouble…

So if you create a 100k 1000 pilot challenge with no restrictions and spend it all on 9-hardpoint MWM Pythons, practically the only thing that would beat would be Assault Cruisers (perhaps) and slow cruisers with less firepower. 1000 fighters would have no problems blowing the enemy up within seconds, and neither would any Frigate fleet with speed over 0.70. The same with Plasma, which is useless against faster targets. Spam Plasma and/or Missiles all you want, but without heavily specialized restrictions it is easy to build a fleet that crushes it. Those quick frigates can be beaten by cruisers packing Pulse Lasers, by other frigates packing more Frigate Beam Lasers (or more speed), and with Rocket fighters if they are allowed. Then -those- fleets can be beaten by other builds again.

If you want your challenge to actually pose a challenge, you will have to restrict options -and- make sure that both quick enemies and slow enemies can be handled. If that includes sacrificing firepower for a tank lure, building one cruiser with all types of weapons needed or building several types of ships with specialized tasks, that is entirely up to you… and it is precisely this which is fun with the Challenge mode.

I see many challenges have their ships spread out in pretty formations and I still don’t hesitate cramming mine together as closely as possible in one corner in order to maximize fire concentration and minimize the enemy’s fire concentration. It’s a basic principle in this game, and in my opinion it is not at all “dark side” to use it. This includes weapon “spamming” both because that is also concentrated fire and because the lack of other types of weapons is a weakness to exploit.

On the point of spamming, I’d like to point out that I often end up running a lot of plasma weapons sometimes including one or two cruisers in my fleet that have the max amount of plasma weapons and the reason is because these are the only weapons (except missiles and short-range lasers) that can get through shields. It doesn’t seem advisable to try to spread out the types of weapons in an effort to be more “honorable” here because one will never get through the shields before they regenerate or your own ships are destroyed.

Well, Cruiser Plasma is an excellent choice against other cruisers because they are not affected by scramblers and smart bombs. Cruiser Plasma, Fast/Multi-warhead missiles and Cruiser Lasers are the viable weapons to take down shields, and given the effectiveness of scramblers, Plasma is as you say the only real ranged option except if you use target painter fighters. Some of the race-specific weapons are quite ok, though.

Missile ships MUST in fact spam in order to overwhelm scramblers and shields. 3 or 4 per ship won’t do, you need 7-8, perhaps only allowing a scrambler yourself. As I said in my Challenge thread (and above), if you spam one particular weapon you aren’t creating a balanced fleet, and this means people will be able to employ the anti-fleet against you unless you don’t allow them to.

I should add that my experiences are almost exclusively in the campaign mode. While it seems like a good idea to make more versatile ships in this mode due to the limitations of fleet size due to resources/crew, you will inevitably run into a fleet that is entirely composed of a spam cruiser or many fighters which could either be totally effective or totally ineffective on basically a coin-flip type basis. This is frustrating and I can understand disliking these kinds of spam because the fleet by the other player will either be totally smashed by your more versatile fleet, or must be countered meaning a ship must be created specifically to take that system and may not be useful in further battles. From this perspective, I can understand players being frustrated with “spam”. I should also add that I’m still fairly inexperienced at this game and can rarely make it past 5-10 planets conquered on the campaign mode lol, so this analysis is coming from a newbie’s perspective.

This is exactly why This Happened: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=9513

My two cents:

I think the majority of these (Safe for Bait Ships and Tanks), work very well in practice, and are perfectly ethical in the many ways they can be countered.

I generally cluster my hordes of Cruisers together to maximize damage inflicted on enemy ships, It’s worth while against poorly designed Tanks and spaced out Fleets/ships, which will in the long run devastate enemies and result in victory.

However effective flanking fleets will dominate this and lower the amount of Damage taken, coupled with the fact that A.I. can screw up and run off without giving them proper orders (Which is a tedious bore for large Fleets[Paired with the Cardinal Necessity of having large amounts of ships]). Fighter Spam can easily ruin this, but only by exploiting the A.I. (Which I consider a Dark Side tactic), which means I lost through no fault of my own, only by the stupidity of the people I enlist (Indirectly I guess).