It appears that once a destination target craft has been determined, there is very little that will change the driver’s mind.
It is fairly simple to see this in action:
Place a single-weapon ship in front of an enemy formation, such that it is the closest target to the enemy fleet and will be selected as the first target. Then, keep it alive through any means necessary, be it with a pile of shields/armor or some kind of driving orders. The opposing fleet will pattern their driving as if it were attacking this ship until it dies.
The rest of your fleet can do whatever it likes. I put up a challenge called “AI quirk” if you want to see. Place a short range assault fleet in the center by the front two ships.
This behavior is very easy to see if the fleet uses a single ship type (like all cruisers) and if the opposing fleet does not use ‘keep moving’ orders, although it works either way. Note this this does not apply to the weapons on the ships, which appear to operate (like retaliate or rescuer orders) as appropriate.
I suspect this behavior is why units eventually get so nutty with 1% fighter attack orders, and why it’s so difficult to get a ship to maintain a minimum range. Cautious orders will probably have the driver pick a more appropriate target on re-approach, but this is obviously too late.
If you find a way around this, please let the rest of us know!
I tested it, managed to get some ships to break of and engage directly the missile cruisers.
What I did was to remove ALL orders from melee ships (including attack cruiser, frigate…) and added keep moving.
Some cruisers, specially the ones behind the formation, changed targets as soon the missile cruisers where closer than then armored ones.
Sent you the deployment, however I also observed than in this specific challenge I get better results with the same fleet if I let them kill the armored cruisers first.
So far I’m more concerned with the fact that unless I deploy the ships in specific layouts its hard to get my ships focus on a single target. Specially problematic against the power gaming tribe challenges.
The rear cruisers in that challenge behave more appropriately at least, which gives me some hope that this isn’t some unfixable issue. Why keep moving? Do they default to the 800 cruiser attack range otherwise?
It isn’t just armor tanks - what really drives me crazy about this thing is ‘cautious’ units. With tribe fleets everywhere, you run across carriers or repair-stacked cruisers all the time. My ranged fleets (because I’m silly enough to use engines…) are constantly driving through the middle of the enemy fleet to get to various useless ships sitting on the border of the map, and escorts with 1% attack fighter orders invariably end up at the enemy carrier before the fight is halfway over.
No, they seemed to engage on the correct range. The keep moving is because the only way that a cruiser with 1 shield as the only defense will survive is to make use of its 42 speed. Otherwise they would not beat the challenge.
Repair modules are for suckers. Tribe doesnt need them in the slightest.
Cool quirk. Retaliate actually did nothing. My guys kept attacking him even with those missiles coming in.
Think you can make a challange version of this? Could be an interesting tactic. And hopefulyy it will be redundant one day
No, they don’t. But it doesn’t keep players from trying anyway.
Armed with this information someone may decide to set cruisers to retreat even without modules. Tying up a few enemy cruisers in a useless chase is a winning scenario.
As for the challenge, Bluebreaker’s solution can be messed up with the addition of a bunch of untethered laser fighters. Seems unordered cruisers develop serious ADD when the closest target switches every few seconds.
Well, like any other challenge, there’s always some counter to worry about. In this case, very slow longrange fleets aren’t going to be led around much because they barely move and want to engage from max ranges anyway. Tribe hitpoint sinks aren’t terribly bothered by those crappy missile cruisers, either.
The abuse is more deployment specific, really. Best case I can think of is dragging a corner deployment fleet all the way to the opposite corner using the same method I use in that first challenge.
The main thing you’d have to avoid is mixed craft types - using a cruiser as bait won’t work if he sets his fleet to attack your AA frigates first.
I also found a “delightful” twitch last night fiddling with one mission or other - one Rebel fighter blew past my line (unsurprising), then continued moving leftward on the screen. Problem was that it dragged one of my cruisers along with it, because the cruiser didn’t have anything capable of snuffing a quick Rebel fighter and the captain/gunners were too stupid to switch targets before they got pulled too far from the front lines. With one more cruiser in the thick of it, I probably wouldn’t have lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
Probably not. But they’re cool. It’s like Night of the Living Spaceships. They just keep coming at you. Now how do I get my Tribe ships’ engines to drone “Brainssss”?
That was in fact the only solution I could find that kept all the cruisers doing what they were supposed to be doing. Annoying, but it seems to work, although in order to keep the cruisers alive I did have to alter my deployment significantly to increase the number of AA frigates.
You basically HAVE to right now, which IMHO is broken.
There are 2 possible routes to fix this via coding.
One, the ability to limit certain weapons to not waste their time shooting at fighters (say anything with a tracking_speed less than 2.X).
Two, the orders could be more literal. If I say that the engagement range for FIGHTERS for my cruiser is 300 (it has defense lasers), then it should simply not ever fire at any fighter past 300. Trouble is once the fighter swarm you, they will still waste main-battery type weapons on fighters (that will NEVER hit). Another Orders related option would be for the range to mean the max range. Any weapon with a range greater than what the order is set to will not ever attack that particular unit.
So if your cruiser has the attack range for fighters set to 300, no weapon with a range >300 will ever shoot at a fighter.
This would allow larger warships to properly engage small targets with secondary weapons, and larger targets with primary weapons.
The gunners are already intelligent enough to evaluate fire to a degree. There’s appears to be little actual waste when using a 1% attack fighter order, save for the missile/torpedo batteries which have unique issues with missed targets. Most of the beam weapons and the like snap right out of it once proper targets get in range - that behavior generally won’t really hurt you until your driver goes insane.
If you set a plasma frigate with an AA missile to 50% attack fighters and 50% attack cruisers, it will almost always prefer to direct all fire at the cruiser (when in range). To the AI, the cruiser is an easier target both for the missile and the plasma cannon - which is not a wholly incorrect assumption.
Presumably, that’s what that percentage means in your attack orders. At some threshold, say 75% fighters, 50% cruisers, the frigate will prefer to attack the fighter but still not enough to continually fire the plasma cannon at it with the lower tracking rate - just the missile. This behavior is in now, and I’ve seen it work outside some occasional “sticking”, which is probably related to above problems - I wish I knew what the math behind those percentages were so we could them it accurately outside of pure guesswork. We supposedly know the hit formula already.
What really keeps us from setting orders like that on a regular basis is that the attack percentages determine the driving pattern - telling a plasma frigate to attack fighters at 75% is just suicide when combined with the above driving problems.
The painful thing about all of this is that the driving problem is directly related to a minimum range order. An order like that would be completely useless if ships aren’t regularly reevaluating their closest target. I’ve been trying ‘double range’ evasion setups for a while now… they’ll never be successful without the above issues resolved.