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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

coodav

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Alright, I have an easy question for you guys. Where are you with the empire, and what is your general strat? Let me start. I have finished 14, and am on 15:

galaxy 1.png


There are some pretty clear advantages for this type of gameplay, and I have settled currently on the Sharkarn. They have scouting units that fly, and are invisible in water. You don't have to worry about that one time your unit gets within 8 spaces of a boat most times. Past that, they have practical offensive and defensive mods, and by far the most powerful T4 unit. When you start nearly able to build it, that goes a long way.

I am currently using Celestian, as you start 1/2 the time with True Ascendancy already researched, so by turn 15 or so, you have an actually unkillable stack. I may swap off this now, as the Ascended Teacher is a unit you can get it as an 'operation,' so it may be best to combine it with other unit types. Still though, starting with it up in your available operations is amazing.

I don't need most of the reliquary now:

galaxy 3.png


I have one more grail pickup and a few niceties to go, but most items don't do much. Just a few things to focus down.

I have the gameplay setting on max every time. Note that this is a tiny bit harder on turn 1, but with the right settings, you will find it is much easier in the end, especially the way I play. I use the enemy units as a money and research opportunity. If you are stupid-agressive, that pays off so much it is hard to believe.

I have only two empire categories maxed out, Shakarn and Celestian:

galaxy 4.png


The rest are in mixed shape.

I have a lot of heroes, with varying experience, but that is because I was a dumb-dumb. I didn't see that little check-box beside their name:

galaxy 5.png


Which appears to mean that you can select the heroes you go into battle with. Now that I know that, I have a lot more heroes with high levels.

Build-out is typically always the same:

Star Union Scholar or Martial Tradition
Larger starting army
No weapon
Kleptomaniac

I don't see a lot of options. If someone has a better idea than this, please tell me, as a turn 20-50 win only has a few possibilities.

Options are typically this:

Units:
Dvar Prospector
Psyfish Spawn
Therian Sharpshooter

Operations:
Black Market Connections
Wasteland Scavangers
Battlefield Autopsies

Mods:
Enhanced Limb Augments
Eyes of Eternity
Battle Pattern Analyzer

Cheap and powerful. Obviously this leads to a certain type of gameplay; ultra-aggressive and combat-oriented. I typically start with 3 scouts, and then expand to 6 cities incredibly fast. That strategy is courtesy of Ninjew, Sinsling, and Winslaya. Get 5-6 cities on the map and focus research (and energy). This was a PVP strat we went over a while back. We had some gameplay discussions and competitions, and their strat worked amazingly well. Get that research up and win. It works even better when you have a lot of tech already researched, but it is not critical. Typically I gun for maybe 3 tier-3 units on turn 20, with good mods, and then I walk all over the opponent, no matter what they have.

I like Celestian, as you have numerous options on this type of play. Obviously the biggest advantage is resurgence, which can simply not be beaten. They can also very effectively manage maps with 3 NPC factions. In those cases, it feels like god-mode.

I typically run planets with optional ending, as you can probably get 80% of the victory conditions with 20% of the game time. Grail planets on max level are particularly appealing, as you can BLAST through them, snag the grail, and win reliably by turn 50.

Fastest planet win was turn 19:

galaxy 6.png


Longest was turn 91:

galaxy 7.png


Last time I do that. That sucked. Most games lasted until around turn 50, when I got the grail, NPC buildings, or whatever I was supposed to do. I typically don't fully complete planets now, as there is 1 or 2 items unfinished. That said, you only need the spacer artifacts once to get everything, so... cool?

Your turn. Where are you at? Do you like this? How is it going for you?

Disappointments in the game? I have one: no DNA Injector: Apex. This was the absolute worst thing that Flagship has done without a doubt. They need that item in the game. I was robbed.

Actually two. They psy-fish construction modifiers don't work when the unit is fully evolved. That happens with me a lot, as I am aggressive with the gameplay. The fact that the construction mods disappear is a real problem.
 

Ethorin

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I've mostly done Imaging Satellite rushes with Promethean Dvar to unlock relics. I've actually maxed Void Tech without actually playing a Void Tech commander, just because of how many Imaging Satellite rushes I've done. I've also maxed Promethean. Mostly, for me, my strategy changes from planet to planet, mostly, because I want to maximise the secondary objectives or minimize the impact of modifiers.
 

Sandman25DCSSS

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I play the game for fun/challenge so I don't min-max. My current empire has Oathbound heroes only and all of them are pre-made, also I always choose the hardest planet without any rerolls and no reloads ever. Islands maps are quite fun when you are slow, I was surprised when one AI attacked me from 3 directions simultaneously (I have read before that it always uses a single direction, but obviously it is not true).
Having Oathbound heroes only makes me rely less on heroes, almost all of them are sitting in their colonies earning 4 cosmite per turn.
 
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coodav

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Mostly, for me, my strategy changes from planet to planet, mostly, because I want to maximise the secondary objectives or minimize the impact of modifiers.
The issue is that it seems that a few options are truly OP. The balance isn't great, and going at it like a surgeon feels incredibly difficult to me. The sledge-hammer approach seems to work amazingly well, no matter the world.

My current empire has Oathbound heroes only and all of them are pre-made, also I always choose the hardest planet without any rerolls and no reloads ever.
The problem I have with oathbound is that it is good for the computer and REALLY bad for human players in PVE. The computer always makes the highest use of Precognition, so you have to fight through a pretty steep wall to kill their units. The problem is when you have fewer units, and you cannot keep precognition up almost at all. I am always sorely outnumbered, and the benefit doesn't work well in that case.

I LOVE the oathbound units and strategies, but the core gameplay is PVP, not PVE. You are just fighting too much stuff, and losing a single unit is a real loss, which will happen with high defense, low damage units. Or you rely on resurgence, and pray.
 

atord/Nordos

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eh, I ... dunno. I play for fun and to relax, to be honest, so my settings are like that. I made the mistake of playing against a single AI on extreme once with a new (low level) commander in a faction I played for the first time. After that planet (I still won, mainly because I cheesed through their base, sniping their lord and throne city after reloading a couple of times and thanks to simulataneous turns), I decided that this was just too much for me. I didn't exactly enjoy it.

Basically, I set Wildlife to max because I tend to load in Battlefield Autopsy and The great harvest. Very good doctrines. Helps a lot if you can rush great harvest early on (for example that easy pickup secondary) ...
my main factions are Kir'ko, Syndicate and kinda Assembly. I disliked the Amazones, Sharkan I never got a link to, Oathbound I was unsure what to tech and use, and I never even played once the Dwarfs.
I am currently in a Vanguard mission, and I don't know if I like them. To be honest, I need my sniper. I love building snipers. Don't ask me why, I just do. But I have come too far. Most of my heroes are already high level, having a Lord Juggernaut really simplifies battles. Having a Lord SNiper also helps, but feels not as powerful (though it may be better in the lategame). Haven't gotten to a Lord Soldier yet, though, but Lord Pilot seems not good.

For that matter, having Heroes with different Weapon loadouts is quite important, IMO. Especially having an Oathbound Juggernauth (there is one option that gives it a mech, but the hero itself is a Juggernauth and not a pilot) really really helps. Mainly because its utterly broken with Syndicate, where you can get a city to have a happiness event each time you compliment / insult another commander ........

Relics I think I am at my last one (Therian Convention). I already have two maxed heroes (level 20), with a 3rd soon to come. For loadout.... It depends. If I don't have celestial / vanguard or similar, I get myself a stagger resitance mod (Tenents of Traanquility mainly). Depending on what my Focus is, there can be: Accelerated Metabolism (Light biological/cyborgs), Eyes of Eternity (Psi Fish Siren loadout), Psi-Tech drive (if I want heavy units), etc.
For Spells I mainly do Doctrines. There are some really powerful ones, and if I play Syndicate I get the Kir'ko ones that boost Happiness rewards (obviously).

Regarding faction level.... Lowest are the dwarfs (they have damn few secondary objectives truth be told), then comes Promethian I think? Sharkan and Amazones aren't maxed either.
 

Sandman25DCSSS

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The problem I have with oathbound is that it is good for the computer and REALLY bad for human players in PVE. The computer always makes the highest use of Precognition, so you have to fight through a pretty steep wall to kill their units. The problem is when you have fewer units, and you cannot keep precognition up almost at all. I am always sorely outnumbered, and the benefit doesn't work well in that case.

I LOVE the oathbound units and strategies, but the core gameplay is PVP, not PVE. You are just fighting too much stuff, and losing a single unit is a real loss, which will happen with high defense, low damage units. Or you rely on resurgence, and pray.
I agree, I selected Oathbound for challenge. I stopped playing 3 previous empires because they were too easy. I expect double fun on planets with "fight 3 Assembly AI" trait, Assembly is a soft counter to Oathbound IMHO.

By the way I had very fun time attacking Oathbound as Outhbound today. AI taught me that entropy mods can be superior to electric mods. My tier 4 unit was dealing just 9 damage per attack to tier 3 units (with accuracy 60 in melee and then fumbles to 4-5 damage per attack) and received 20+ damage every turn just from passive curses and being adjacent to enemy units. It was hilarious despite I was on the receiving end.
 
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coodav

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Wow man, that is work. 10 of them maxed. I won a few more worlds and am now at 4 maxed, but 10? That is fast work.
 

atord/Nordos

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It goes pretty fast once you attain nightmarish and horrific. Add in some secondary objectives that are easy to achieve....
 

coodav

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Yeah, I bet I get 6 or 8 maxed by the end of my current map. Still though, that is pretty quick, all things considered.
 

Hunnuli

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To be honest, I need my sniper. I love building snipers. Don't ask me why, I just do.
I am a big sniper fan myself. For firearm factions I like loading out the RPR Stalker. And once I unlock the Rail Accelerators for loadout I might just have those two always be on my load out list. A Tier III Sniper that can get to 11 range and has Agile Overwatch and comes with Stagger Resist? I'll take one! Actually make that several. True you can't push their crit as high as you can with say an Assembly Sniper since the Stalker will never get the 20 percent crit bonus from best morale, but they still hit hard and I just love that range!
 

trihero1

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To the OP, how do you allocate colonists/sectors when you do your early 5-6 cities? If you win that quickly (50 or lower) how do you defend them?

Also, how does your strategy change when you're on a voidbringer or evil knight world where the nps run over your colonies unless you defend them with t3 militia?

I've definitely come to some of the same conclusions you have - ascended teacher and psi fish are top picks.

edit: also why do you use psi-fish spawns instead of hunters?

I have a feeling I'm doing things slower/inefficiently; in my style I go for building 2 colonizers and that's it. I'll absorb a colony if it's convenient. This is about my comfort level with defending against extreme wildlife and also just in general finding space for more colonizers can be an issue in packed maps. In every colony I make a food core and I force myself to get a food sector within the first 2 sectors. I just feel like colonies grow too slowly without a food sector, but I haven't really done the math or comparisons. I like to get a lot of science but if there just aren't science sectors around I'll grudgingly pick up energy sectors. I find I spend a lot of time on infrastructure so I love to use requisitions on revised regulations and factory overdrive (both dvar ops).
 
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coodav

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how do you allocate colonists/sectors when you do your early 5-6 cities?
Heavy on research. You won't be worried about getting to 16+ population purposefully, so just get a sector with 2 congruent research nodes adjacent to the city center. Keep it small, as you need roads. If your population goes higher, great. If I get past 4 cities, I start looking for one to go food to feed the other cities. That is a luxury, so whatever.

If you win that quickly (50 or lower) how do you defend them?
I don't. The computer always knows exactly when I leave, and promptly invades behind me, but I don't care. I always hit the opponent I KNOW I can take out within 5 or so turns. Since I already have infrastructure speed, I can return fast through the cities I just conquered.

Which brings me back to the invaders. Invaders, once they take your cities, don't retreat. They conquer your cities, and then allow you to ROFL stomp them. So you fly back through your own territory, and blast down the bulk of their army. Now that you have hobbled them, you are free to invade player two almost unhindered. You don't need to wait to have strength to defend. You just need a fast check-mate with low risk.

Keep allies too, as you can have them in these games. They are important firewalls.

how does your strategy change when you're on a voidbringer or evil knight world where the nps run over your colonies unless you defend them with t3 militia?
I NEVER clear the spawners unless I have to, as I need them to give me resources. I use money and research 'on kill' doctrines, and you get it when a spawn suicides on you. That is why "hardcore" and "extreme" help me instead of hurt me. That does mean I often need to keep a few modded units near the town cluster. Try to expand your home town toward the spawners, as you can get a T4 defense there.

I've definitely come to some of the same conclusions you have - ascended teacher and psi fish are top picks.
They hover/fly. They are fast. Good combo.

why do you use psi-fish spawns instead of hunters?
Spawns are faster, and more effective. Hunters are fine if they get to their opponents, but it is a strange downgrade to the unit before Siren, which are simply nuts. I just want the fast power. In retrospect though, hunters do well with imperial training centers. Military research 5 plus a training center is a free Siren if you build hunters. In retrospect, that is actually a great idea. I am definitely going to force that to work.

in my style I go for building 2 colonizers and that's it. I'll absorb a colony if it's convenient.
Yeah, Sinsling went through some of this in his PVE examples. Check my old "Sinsling v. The World" posts for that. He jammed out 6 cities, and just annihilated everything. It is WAAAAAAY more effective than what I had been doing.

Getting a few food sectors isn't the end of the world. I do it when I need to, and it doesn't slow things down very much.

I like to get a lot of science but if there just aren't science sectors around I'll grudgingly pick up energy sectors.
"Grudgingly?" You do need energy. At least one city is energy, if not two. I often go 2 energy 2 research 1 food, or such. Blended production. And food is fine, it just can't be the focus.

I find I spend a lot of time on infrastructure so I love to use requisitions on revised regulations and factory overdrive (both dvar ops).
Infrastructure is fine, but it has diminishing returns. Just keep your eye on the prize. Know that 'checkmate' is killing your opponents, so adequate high-mod units wins the game. The faster, the better.

You seem to know your stuff, so just push it further. Make everything happen 10 turns before you normally do. And take a look at some of the PVP matches. They have this stuff DOWN.
 

atord/Nordos

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Thats,.... somethingg I totally missed! Will get them the next time I get the Firearm tree. Hell, I may even just load out the required mods, too. :p
 

trihero1

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Yeah one of my favorite empire strats is using vanguard psynumbra; the +1 rank means you can just get a rank 5 military science (which can be trivial if you find a rank 4 bronze landmark) and churn out sirens for the measly cost of a tier 2 hunter. It's busted. Even more so on cosmite depleted planets since you are basically the only one who is churning out elite units like candy.

Could I get some more specifics on your early 5-6 expand like, what is the "usual" stuff you build first in your new colonies, how do you plan your sectors out exactly? Clearly as you've said you're not looking to make them 16 + pop, so what do you prioritize?

For me, I always get military defenses rank 2 ASAP because I find that anything short of that on extreme wildlife is inviting your colonies to get ransacked by marauders, which just defeats the purpose of expanding entirely if you can't hold on to the territories.

Do you put max colonists on food until you hit say 12 pop then switch them over? Do you go for 1 food sector, then 2 researches or 2 energies depending on the type of colony you wish to make?

I'm pretty sure a critical "error" I make is I make one food sector, and then I fill out all the food slots and leave it like that forever. I think I'm supposed to switch the food colonists to science or energy at a certain point, but I never truly bothered to get my hands dirty and experiment when's the best time. Do you have thoughts on that?

edit: I just tried a game where I go science reactors everywhere, get 1 food sector per colony then 2 of science or energy, started with all colonists on food until 12 pop then switched to the colony's specialization, and I think my gameplay got a lot better. I filled way more tech than I usually did this way.
 
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coodav

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For me, I always get military defenses rank 2 ASAP because I find that anything short of that on extreme wildlife is inviting your colonies to get ransacked by marauders, which just defeats the purpose of expanding entirely if you can't hold on to the territories.
Yeah, you kind-of have to do that. Now things change, so here is my current map:

Expansion 1.png


Almost all of that is going to be energy. The reason for it is that I have to support a stupid army.

Speaking of, it is turn 26, and I just conquered the first teal city. I here are my stacks:

Expansion 2.png


21 total invading units, and one or two on defense duty.

Because this is a maxed out Sharkarn Celestian, their mods don't suck:

Expansion 4.png


Cavitation Module (T2)
Tenents of Healing (T2)
Laser Precision Module (T3)

Monitors are the same, but are fresh off the production line:

Expansion 5.png


Laser Precision Module (T3)
Dazzler System (T3)
Xeno Defense Module (T2)

I will need them to actually fight, so the mods are highly defensive. 1 armor 4 shields when they are done.

Now I kind-of broke my own rules a pinch. I started in a research desert, and the enemy was LITERALLY adjacent to me. Those are Pop 6-7 cities on my border, and they were about to go to war. I really was forced to go all-in on them, so I went max energy and traded energy for cosmite. Saved every penny and pickup. No rushed buildings. Skipped city 5 for the cosmite. Trades were about 5:1, which isn't bad. When I am done, Teal's cities will be my research.

And as you can see, they are NOT in a research desert:

Expansion 6.png


So I should have a few full research cities up by maybe turn 30? That Research node will pay dividends too, as I will be building psi-fish.

Now Aqua below me is probably already invading:

Expansion 7.png


I do suspect that they are already on the move. All of their cities typically have a ton of units by default. They probably stopped to build 6-12 unit stacks and sent them. I believe that they will take those two cities within 3 - 5 turns.

My other cities should have enough energy to keep me afloat. I should conquer Teal within maybe 5 turns? 8 for sure. That means I have about 5 extra turns to get back before the cities convert, which should be plenty. And Teal will be a distant memory.

The obvious issue is that Teal's armies don't suck either:

Expansion 8.png


But it doesn't matter. He is anti-mech. The build is not made to fight me. Apparently, they have certain builds, and just stick with it. This one will do him precisely zero good. He is doomed. I doubt I will lose a single unit in the siege.

So by turn 30, I suspect that I will have 8 cities, 4 of mine, 4 of Teal's, and will be Rolling down into Aqua to knock off the 2nd ELOP colony:

Expansion 9.png


Might just get a full-clear by 50 on this one.

My lucky day.

And just a shout out to Energy Efficient Production line on this one. Note those Monitors. That is 4 upkeep on a Tier 2 unit. WOW. That will allow a TON of flexibility.

So a few changes by necessity, but research would have been more important in most cases. I just had to go all-out war on this one. Cosmite energy trades FTW.
 

trihero1

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How'd you find time to make that assault squad of 21 units by turn 26? I can get tangled up in infrastructure all day long. Do you just not bother to exploit some sectors in order to push out units? Or do you do something like make one infrastructure then force yourself to make a soldier, etc? O_O
 

coodav

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Start with 6 assault units (+3 scouts)
+2 heroes
+3 T1 units
+10 purchased Autonom units

And yes, I really leaned into quests on this one. If you get the max quests, you can get 3 quests every 4 turns, with double influence. That is 336 influence in 8 turns total. With 50% purchase bonus, that is 8 T2 units. Really paid off here.

Celestians do this all the time. It helps with the Ascended Teacher, though I didn't start with it here. If I had...
 

trihero1

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Any comments about switching colonists off food at some breakpoint? (12/16, smthing else?)

Although I experimented with switching them off food at 12, sometimes the map is awkwardly positioned enough that I actually want to keep colonists on food so I can chain a residential sector into say a double research cog or cosmite.
 

coodav

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  • Age of Wonders III
  • Age of Wonders
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Deluxe edition
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Premium edition
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Season pass
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Sign Up
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revelations
After my initial scout buying binge, I typically keep them there until at least 8 pop. Then it goes one of two ways:

1. I ROFLstomp the computer (typical) and I keep them there seemingly forever; or
2. I get them all over me, and I stop at 8.

Stompings are more common.