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View Full Version : Hey, YOU, YES YOU STRATEGY GAMER - tell me why I should buy sword of the stars



Wizlah
18-06-2011, 11:09 AM
It's been on my mind for a while, and gamersgate have it cheap.

My strategy experience (particularly 4x games) is NIL. Although I do like Rome Total War, even if I've failed to finish two campaigns now.

Thanking you for your time.

P.S. While you're at it, what makes Europa Universalis so great?

Schaulustiger
18-06-2011, 11:35 AM
I'd like to extend this thread to the question:

What are the main differences between Sword of the Stars, Galactic Civilizations II and Sins of a Solar Empire? I've heard good things about all three of them, but I've still been hesitant about buying one of them. I really, really, really loved Master of Orion II, but I never played the tactical battles, because I'm more interested in the strategical 4X parts. So, which of those games resembles MoO2 the most (in that it has a strong simulation aspect)?

Re Europa Universalis: It's the perfect entry into Paradox' grand strategy games. The EU3 Collection includes a whopping four addons and it's now as deep and polished as it gets without having the learning curve of a, let's say, Hearts of Iron II or Victoria I. Imagine Rome without the real-time battles, but with about 100x more strategical decisions and a very demanding diplomacy system.

Tei
18-06-2011, 11:56 AM
Sword of the Stars focus on empire expansion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-z-Pd9RcGM

This, but much slower.


Sins of a Solar is a RTS.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rERUVMdjMS8&feature=related

This, with space ships.


Galactic Civilizations II is a CIVI game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biAOZEPY5CU

This. With Laser tech III thats give 4% more damage than Laser tech II.

Vicious
18-06-2011, 02:48 PM
Not true. SoTS focuses on RTS battles while trying to make the strategic layer as streamlined as possible.

It manages this somewhat, but is definitely a flawed game.

UI is unintuitive(you can't scroll, you can only move the camera by focusing on an object), battles are hard to control/hard to tell what's really going on. The strategic layer only really has two interesting variables:
Randomised tech tree & each race having a different method of travelling between stars. Past that, it's an empty vessel requiring you to manage trade routes to make any sort of decent money - and managing trade routes is a complete PITA.

Sins is also an RTS, but a more 'actiony' one. Concentrates on getting you going pewpew with spaceships while having minimal research/empire management. Thoroughly enjoyable game that will keep you entertained for a week or two but not much more. Worth the buy!

GalCiv 2: Could never bring myself to try it after GalCiv 1.

vinraith
18-06-2011, 05:25 PM
I can't seem to find one of my longer raves, and I'm much too lazy to type out a new one, but here's my post from the last time the topic came up.






With all the expansions, it’s my favorite space 4X game, for what that’s worth. Good ship customization, good tech tree variety, really substantial differences between how the races play, strong AI, strong customization, and some truly magnificent B-scifi-movie atmosphere. I’ve never played a game of this sort where the map itself is such a character, the random encounters and non-player factions lend an enormous amount of flavor and fun to the proceedings.


I can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re a 4X fan, or looking to get into the genre.


I like EU3, but haven't played it nearly as much as I played EU2, so I'll let someone else field that one.

JayTee
18-06-2011, 05:59 PM
GalCiv2 has probably the best AI I've encountered in a strategy game. With both expansion packs it's a very deep game, diplomacy actually works and is reasonably intuitive, while combat is relatively simplistic in implementation it's actually quite complex with all the things that affect it (Space stations boosting your fleets, ships that boost other ships, the play-off between a few massive ships and lots of little-er ships, etc), and I generally love it.

It is very Civilisation-esque, but very well done imo.

EndelNurk
18-06-2011, 06:12 PM
I like GalCiv 2 much more than Sword of the Stars but then I like my strategy games to either be colossal like Civ or small-scale like Dawn of War or Company of Heroes. Sword of the Stars is a bit fiddly for my liking. That said, the universe is great and the fact that every race has a completely different mode of transport makes things very interesting.

vinraith
18-06-2011, 06:53 PM
I really, really, really loved Master of Orion II, but I never played the tactical battles, because I'm more interested in the strategical 4X parts. So, which of those games resembles MoO2 the most (in that it has a strong simulation aspect)?


Gal Civ 2, hands down. Sins is really just an RTS with an unusually large scale, SotS is brilliant but downplays the simier aspects of empire building, focusing instead on conquest, logistics, military technology, and some of the best NPC enemies/encounters/phenomena ever in a game of this sort (along with some neat "occupied population" dynamics). GC2 is very much a spiritual successor to MoO2 and Ascendancy, conversely, in that its focus is far less on combat and far more on empire building, colony management and the like. It sounds like what you're looking for.

BenWah
18-06-2011, 08:39 PM
The Gal Civ 2 ultimate edition, with all expansions included already, is $10 right now on impulse.

Ten bucks!

http://www.impulsedriven.com/galciv2ul

Voltek
19-06-2011, 01:20 AM
SotS and Sins are also on sale at Impulse as well, $6 and $10 respectively for the complete editions. Plenty of pew pew with these two games. Gal Civ 2 also has many good things said about it, but is much more of a Civ-styled game for my tastes.

Batolemaeus
19-06-2011, 02:13 AM
To be honest, I still have a soft spot for Imperium Galactica 2, a very old game that plays like a real time version of Gal Civ 2, albeit with much more complex planet management (to the point of being sim city-esque), combining ground combat with fleet combat, while on the strategic level there is research, diplomacy and espionage.

I wish someone would gratuitously steal the space combat and the tech tree from SotS and combined it with an improved version of Imperium Galactica's colony management and slapping GlaCivs diplomacy on top of it. I think the universe would fold in on itself. SotS has some of the most superb space-shooting I've ever seen. So many options, so many ways to screw up horribly. I love it. The management? Not so much..


To go off on a tangent here...why is it that of all the strategy games I like, most of them are really old and have more interesting mechanics than todays games? I'm thinking specifically of customizable units, the very interesting dynamic of earth 2150's underground and its innovative story and the enormous scope these games had. Imperium Galactica 2 came out in 2000, Earth 2150 too, Warzone 2100 one year earlier, Tiberian Sun also came out in 2000..
I'm so glad that all those are still pretty playable and in some cases better than todays rts titles, or i'd be a very sad panda indeed. When I play SotS, i feel thrown back to those old games in so many ways..

Basilicus
19-06-2011, 04:13 AM
To be honest, I still have a soft spot for Imperium Galactica 2

This. Oh gods, this. My favorite strategy game of all-time. What an incredible experience. Ooh, the border disputes...the Cold War-style fleet mirroring...defeating an overwhelming fleet's invasion with superior ground forces...balancing power with a hardcore espionage program...cashing out your treasury on second-hand ships and making an overnight invasion fleet. And that music. Oh, the music.

*SWOONS*

Schaulustiger
19-06-2011, 11:23 AM
Hey, thanks everyone for explaining those titles. I specifically asked because all three games are on sale this weekend and I finally want to scratch my space 4X itch again. It'll be GalCiv 2 for me then, I'm especially looking forward to the AI and diplomacy system as that is what makes or breaks most grand scale strategy games.

riadsala
19-06-2011, 11:50 AM
Hey, thanks everyone for explaining those titles. I specifically asked because all three games are on sale this weekend and I finally want to scratch my space 4X itch again. It'll be GalCiv 2 for me then, I'm especially looking forward to the AI and diplomacy system as that is what makes or breaks most grand scale strategy games.

A word of caution on GalCiv2...it isn't Civ. I kept on expecting things to behave in a more Civ like manner, and really didn't get on with it initially. Don't get me wrong, the game is great, but it has a bit of a learning curve as it doesn't make it very clear how you should play. And the pacing is a bit wonky. For example, it takes ages before you tech the ability to invade other planets. And it's very easy to build all your planets up quickly, but then you realise that you have to knock stuff down if you want to build something else, as there's no space for that Galactic Wonder. And the tech tree is huge, and very open, and you'll often find you have 20+ techs to chose between, ranging from 1 turn to research, to 50 turns. etc

Basically, its very easy to play the game very badly, and not realise for a few hours! Whereas I feel Civ games always do a better job at guiding you onto a sensible strategic path.

Wizlah
19-06-2011, 02:12 PM
Aye my thanks for explaining all of these. I reckon I will give SoTS a go - it sounds like it has character to spare and I like the sound of the randomised tech tree.

Wizlah
19-06-2011, 02:18 PM
Re Europa Universalis: It's the perfect entry into Paradox' grand strategy games. The EU3 Collection includes a whopping four addons and it's now as deep and polished as it gets without having the learning curve of a, let's say, Hearts of Iron II or Victoria I. Imagine Rome without the real-time battles, but with about 100x more strategical decisions and a very demanding diplomacy system.

That sounds interesting. I'm loath to take on more than one strategy game, but I'm interested in the tone and themes of a lot of the paradox strategy games, so I may give it a go.

Vicious
19-06-2011, 02:32 PM
Note if playing Sword of the Stars: Always play flat maps. Implementing 3d starmaps was one of the stupider ideas by the dev that adds nothing but confusion and frustration.

EndelNurk
19-06-2011, 02:39 PM
I never knew there was an option for playing flat maps. I might have to go back to the game then, it could make more sense.

arathain
19-06-2011, 03:07 PM
I have to disagree on the flat maps thing. While keeping track of everything in a spherical map is tricky, it is by no means impossible, and there are plenty of tools to help you do it. There are also 3D maps with a lot more structure, such as Clusters, which are interesting challenges in themselves, and easier to follow.

The other thing is that a flat map disadvantages certain races. Humans need a bit of a more complex structure- otherwise their node networks get too simple and there are fewer options and more chokepoints. Flat maps also make trade less lucrative, so Morrigi lose out there.

May I recommend the Disc? Nice and planar, but with just enough depth to make it interesting and balanced.

Vicious
19-06-2011, 03:18 PM
Of course it's not impossible, it's just time consuming, a chore and unpleasant. There's a reason maps are usually simplified to 2d after all :) The UI makes operating in 3D in this game(both in tactical and strategical) fairly annoying in my experience, and adds little depth

What tools are there to help people out btw? I whored rorschach's excellent wiki and didn't come across any tips on managing 3d maps!

http://sots.rorschach.net/

arathain
19-06-2011, 04:42 PM
I meant the interface tools. The empire screen has lists of your planets, explored planets, fleets, that sort of thing. Double click on any number and it'll order them by that number- so, if you're picking your next target for colonising you can order by climate hazard, say.

It doesn't entirely mitigate the potential for confusion with big Sphere maps, but it will help you keep track of everything. Honestly, after a while your brain will begin to wrap around it. Then you can feel proud, because you got a little bit smarter. Or you can play on Clusters or Disc.

riadsala
19-06-2011, 05:02 PM
It doesn't entirely mitigate the potential for confusion with big Sphere maps, but it will help you keep track of everything. Honestly, after a while your brain will begin to wrap around it. Then you can feel proud, because you got a little bit smarter. Or you can play on Clusters or Disc.


Also, surely part of the attraction of space games is, well, the nature of space? Part of the challenge of the game is getting your head around 3D space :)

vinraith
19-06-2011, 05:09 PM
Note if playing Sword of the Stars: Always play flat maps. Implementing 3d starmaps was one of the stupider ideas by the dev that adds nothing but confusion and frustration.

I couldn't disagree more, there's nothing more disappointing in a space game than a 2d map.

You should, however, avoid spherical maps in favor of maps with a clear sense of direction. I like playing on the various spiral types, the arm map, that sort of thing. It's too easy to get lost in a perfectly spherical ball.

Vicious
19-06-2011, 05:26 PM
You aren't playing a space game, you're playing a space strategy game. There's reason why 3 dimensional information is usually displayed in 2 dimensions in real life as well as games. Can argue preference or whatever, but can't argue against how the human brain perceives and processes information, or how 3d info is displayed in real life situations as a result :)


Case in point: Air Traffic Control.

Basilicus
19-06-2011, 06:28 PM
Note if playing Sword of the Stars: Always play flat maps. Implementing 3d starmaps was one of the stupider ideas by the dev that adds nothing but confusion and frustration.

The core of the game is in how different races traverse space in completely different ways. The strategic complexity of this would've been lost on a 2D map; that different warp style would've meant so much less. On a 3D map, with those movement styles, there's a hell of a lot more flanking and surprise to what the enemy does.

Vicious
19-06-2011, 06:57 PM
The complexity would in no way have been lost and to argue it would have been is pretty laughable to be honest.

Humans: Travel extremely fast down pre-existing 'node paths' between stars but extremely slowly directly if no node exists(best race to play as a newbie!)
Tarka: Travel at a constant rate everywhere.
Liir: Travel fastest in deep space and slowest around Suns, allowing deep space interception of enemy fleets.
Hiver: Need to deploy a 'gate' at a planet to allow FTL travel
Zuul: Operate as Humans, but need to 'rip' a nodepath using a special ship, and they decay over time.
Morrigi: The more ships in the fleet, the faster it travels.

How is the complexity of any of this lost in a relatively flat map?

Feel free to search for sword of the stars 3d map/etc, you'll find many reviews and players lamenting the implementation in this game.

vinraith
19-06-2011, 08:12 PM
You aren't playing a space game, you're playing a space strategy game. There's reason why 3 dimensional information is usually displayed in 2 dimensions in real life as well as games. Can argue preference or whatever, but can't argue against how the human brain perceives and processes information, or how 3d info is displayed in real life situations as a result :)


Case in point: Air Traffic Control.

Can argue preference or whatever, but can't argue that real life galaxies are three dimensional objects. ;)

The universe itself exists in three dimensions, the real geometry of stars is three dimensional, and losing that loses a significant layer of positional depth not to mention realism. Speaking as an astronomer 2d star maps in strategy games bug the crap out of me, it's part of the reason I preferred Ascendancy to MoO2, and prefer SotS to Gal Civ 2. MoO2 and GC2 are both great games, but they don't feel like games set in space to me as a result of their Civ-esque flattening.

Since you folks that prefer a 2D map are free to play that way in SotS with the 2d map functions, I don't see how this is any kind of problem.

Vicious
19-06-2011, 08:21 PM
Can argue preference or whatever, but can't argue that real life galaxies are three dimensional objects. ;)
Who said differently?


The universe itself exists in three dimensions, the real geometry of stars is three dimensional, and losing that loses a significant layer of positional depth not to mention realism.
You're arguing realism in a sci-fi RTS, it's akin to someone complaining about non-newtonian physics in a star wars game(although personally, I preferred I-War's take on space flight to Tie Fighter etc).


Since you folks that prefer a 2D map are free to play that way in SotS with the 2d map functions, I don't see how this is any kind of problem.
It isn't of course! But people talking nonsense about losing strategical depth and ruining the game because of how different races move etc because of a 2d representation of a 3d object is :D
And the fact that Kerberos insist on it being a great feature and potentially bringing it into the next game despite there seeming to be a majority who find the implementation thoroughly flawed is another problem as well. Although Kerberos people do seem especially bad at listening to constructive feedback/criticism - which is a shame as SotS could have been a great game, and I'm not sure SotS 2 will build on any of it's shortcomings due to the head guys insistence on his vision being right no matter what.

Regardless. For any new player, I'd recommend a relatively flat map. Feel free to branch out into 3d maps as you become more experienced, but be prepared to end up hating it :p

vinraith
19-06-2011, 08:40 PM
And the fact that Kerberos insist on it being a great feature and potentially bringing it into the next game despite there seeming to be a majority who find the implementation thoroughly flawed is another problem as well. Although Kerberos people do seem especially bad at listening to constructive feedback/criticism - which is a shame as SotS could have been a great game, and I'm not sure SotS 2 will build on any of it's shortcomings due to the head guys insistence on his vision being right no matter what.


Sorry, but I love Kerberos precisely because they're not listening to you. Devs should listen to player criticism, but design by committee is a terrible idea. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of players who think the everyone else should be denied the option to play with a 3d star map because they happen to prefer 2d.

SwiftRanger
19-06-2011, 09:56 PM
To be honest, I still have a soft spot for Imperium Galactica 2, a very old game that plays like a real time version of Gal Civ 2, albeit with much more complex planet management (to the point of being sim city-esque), combining ground combat with fleet combat, while on the strategic level there is research, diplomacy and espionage.
Crazy ambitious game, still the most memorable 4X game I ever played. It actually had a story and weird random events, filled with CGIs that did their job very well. I am afraid we'll never see a third game although its original creators did try it with Haegemonia but that was more limited I heard.

Couldn't get into SotS, hoping the sequel is much better.

Tikey
20-06-2011, 12:08 AM
I've found that Sots is hard to get into if you start playing as humans (which most people, myself included, do). As their travel method can have its serious drawbacks. Starting as tarka or hivers can help a lot.

arathain
20-06-2011, 02:53 AM
Definitely. Humans are tricky. They can expand very quickly early on, but they really need to- if you don't get a tech advantage your flimsy ships are a distinct problem.

Tarka are a great starting race, or they were for me. Steady speed and lots of armour and guns on the front is something I can work with.

vinraith
20-06-2011, 02:55 AM
Tarka are actually intended to be the starter race, according to the devs.

arathain
20-06-2011, 03:04 AM
It helps that I really like their background. There's a race you could have a drink with.

riadsala
20-06-2011, 10:30 AM
On the space strategy front, I'd love to play a Sins-esque rts set just in the solar system. With realistic planetary orbits, mapping out your attack vectors, making use of gravitational slingshots, and having to time your attacks to coincide with planets being near each other as they orbit.

It, of course, would be difficult to make this game fun and playable, but I can imagine a wealth of interesting strategic options that would get thrown up. A game that actually imagines what space strategy would be like. As opposed to something like GalCiv2 which feels more like giant ocean with planets acting as islands.

Lightbulb
20-06-2011, 10:53 AM
I've bought it. Mostly because vinrath likes it and I think we have similar tastes.

Not having played it but a 3d map will have a much more complex interaction in terms of distance between stars. On a 2d map you only have x and y so the distance between 5 stars can be simply represented:

XY Y Z

With the added Z direction you can have a something like this:

X





Y Y Z

So Z and Y are equally close to X.

It just adds more depth to the position of planets - and since positioning is a major part of strategy I'd say this helps.

taione
20-06-2011, 11:58 AM
The depth of Sots lies in it's realtime combat system. With GalCiv the combat is abstracted to an extent, and with Sins it was heavily weighted on who had the most numbers, Sots's battle system allowed you to employ tactics to defeat numerically superior forces. It's also great fun to see your latest heavy beam dreadnaught go to town on an enemy formation.

I love Sots. I enjoyed GalCiv, i played Sins, but I've put more hours into Sots than both of the others combined.

lunarplasma
20-06-2011, 12:38 PM
Like the OP, I was considering getting SotS...

What about the imminent imminence of SotS2, though? Should I just hold off and get that instead?

Basilicus
20-06-2011, 02:34 PM
But people talking nonsense about losing strategical depth and ruining the game because of how different races move etc because of a 2d representation of a 3d object is :D


How is it nonsense? Playing MoO2, every time I make an engine upgrade, I need to check every star on the 2D map to see if it's suddenly in-range. Because they're representing a 3D map on a 2D plane, stars halfway across the map might be closer than ones that appear to be right next to me. Mousing over every star to gauge where things really are is very counter-intuitive and wastes a lot of time. It also limits the number of stars you can have because - at a certain count - that 3D-by-2D becomes truly unwieldy and creates some frustration and confusion.

What do I do with SotS? I look with my eyes. Boom, I've got the information. Done. Maybe I do a little spinning or rotating to see all the pretty lights do their thing.

Other 4x games just do it true 2D style like a Civ game. Completely removes the positional depth Vinraith is talking about and cuts off expansion and flanking from underneath and above. Truly 3D maps add a ton of possibilities either ignored or limited by other 4x games.

Not to mention that true 3D spacemaps heighten my immersion immeasurably and make me feel very warm and happy and hopeful for humanity inside.

mr.doo
20-06-2011, 05:45 PM
I really hope they do improve the strategic part. The combat is great but everything else just feels way too simplistic and uninteresting. The game gets rather interesting in multiplayer, but the singleplayer part is just boring.

archonsod
20-06-2011, 07:44 PM
Regardless. For any new player, I'd recommend a relatively flat map. Feel free to branch out into 3d maps as you become more experienced, but be prepared to end up hating it :p

Can't say I had a problem with it, albeit there wasn't a 2D option when I started. To my mind the shape of the map is irrelevant, it's purely down to the number of stars. A fifteen star sphere tends to be much easier to work with than a 150 star 2D map.
Personally I'd recommend sticking to 50 - 60 stars and cluster based maps till you find your feet. It'll split the map into fairly easy to work with 10 star groupings, and you can just focus on what's going on in your local cluster till you're ready to expand.

Danny252
21-06-2011, 09:09 PM
To continue on the 2D/3D thing, was I the only one disappointed to see that the realtime battles weren't really 3D either? They were 2D with the odd bit of vertical collision avoidance, and even then, the ships rarely bothered rolling to point all my carefully placed cannons o' doom at the enemy (I realise there's a "roll" hotkey, but it only ever did purdy little 360* pirouettes) - so more often than not I was sat there hoping my ship would decide to float underneath an enemy so all it's "topside" weapons would fire, rather than it causing destruction wherever the enemy flew. If only it had a system more like HW - certainly involved the Z axis more than SOTS, and I think ships actually turned any which way to pewpew their targets?

archonsod
22-06-2011, 12:00 AM
Ships will orient themselves towards their target according to the orders you've set (note the three options in the top right, front on, broadsides or front offset). Obviously, if you're playing humans you want to shift from the default face enemy to broadsides to bring most of your guns to bear.

Though there's no ships where being under the enemy would allow you to fire all the guns AFAIK. Nor do you really want it; those precious few turrets which can fire above or below tend to be more usefully used shooting down planetary missiles instead of enemy ships.

rsherhod
26-06-2011, 10:00 PM
If, like me, you liked to get your ships in close and out manoeuvre your enemy, keeping your ship below or above can be very important. Most ships, particularly human ones, have their heaviest guns on their top. They only tend to have defensive weapons below. Having no control of relative hight always seems to leave me on top and the enemy underneath with the advantage.
Anyway, relative height is going to be usable in SotS2. Ships will be able to shift up and down and form 3D formations. Also the combat will be in complete systems, rather than around single planets.

Also, did people really have trouble with the 3D star maps in SotS? What about Homeworld?

archonsod
27-06-2011, 12:10 AM
Rolling will bring the guns to bear in that situation, though the ship should turn to orient the guns on the enemy anyway (assuming you set the facing correctly); I've even seen ships turn themselves upside down to orient on a target knocked off the plane. Thing to remember is momentum and velocity are modelled, even the Liir have to deal with inertia. As a general rule, if your ship is stationary or the target moves off-plane at a reasonable distance you can generally leave it to the AI to correct it's course and heading to bring guns to bear. If it's already moving, or the adjustment happens at close range (such as when you fly through an enemy formation) you're better off ordering a roll since it overrides any attempt for the ship to try and change course and simply rolls as she bears (which coincidentally is also useful if you wish to try and ram an enemy).

Also worth noting the ship AI will deliberately try to position itself where it can minimise return fire if possible, it's one of the reasons you often see certain races (Morrigi and Liir for example) pirouetting around each other.

Tikey
27-06-2011, 04:45 AM
Speaking of movement. I was never able to do what the AI liir does. That manoeuvre when their destroyers circle around your ships constantly firing. Is there a way to do that automatically?