View Full Version : Dear space diary - A rolling SotS jotter

29-09-2011, 02:02 AM
The Steam RPS Sots group "RPSotS (http://steamcommunity.com/groups/RPSotS)" is having a game for inexperienced players (http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?1313-Sword-of-the-Stars-Multiplayer-game-(for-inexperienced-players)/page5) obviously I'm familiar with the game, but I have played very little against people. The format of the game was a few turns a week, and after announcing that my favourite side was "Random" I found the game was under way. For the last few weeks we have stole an hour here or there and got the game rolling, This will be my AAR (DAR? during acton report) roughly 10 turns behind and obscuring any details that would really impact the current gameflow, but generally It will be quite open.

My Following post will simply describe SotS, from my point of view as a human empire, knowledge of the game is not required to read this.

Turn 0-16?: My Empire was ruled by an iron fist, the problem was it wasn't mine, After election I spent some time aboard the presidential pleasure barge and A freak electrical storm turned off all communication so we wouldnt be interrupted.

Turn 16: I return a while later to find the tactical command and Knowledge system(ai controlling player)AKA TaCoKS had been making crude choices in my absence, a few basic industrial technologies were researched, and the technology that allows the most basic Command 'n' Control ship, without a CnC ship the ships in combat with be limited to 6 and drawn at random from the systems population, with the most basic CnC up to 10 ships are allowed and they can be preset, that way keeping support ships like fuel tankers and colony pods out of the fight until all other forces are depleted, also another project was under research I shall codename Icarus which was still underway.

With any race in SotS bar Humans every star on the map is is a potential destination, some species are slower some are faster but every star is meaningful.

Humans see a hidden truth of space, rely on it and are imprisoned by it, space has natural roads between gravitational bodies, using these roads Humans are the fastest species in the game, without them they are the slowest.

This is roughly how humans see the stars, note that roads cannot be dismounted, for either regular space or another road, so every journey is channelled by the map.

My Homeworld had 3 main paths from it, one road a dead end to a small and toxic world (with potential for terraforming) Another too far to travel yet (humans have a limited to how far any one leap they can take down a road, but future technology will extend my reach) except with an "extended range" scout ship making a one way trip and a third path of small hops along dusty boulder worlds. But these worlds have their most interesting aspects in space.

http://img5.imageshack.us/img5/6044/derelictexplore.jpg not my image, sorry internet

Turn 17-20: This is an Alien derelict, the husk of a once great weapon of war, Its a small piece of the command deck, broken and spinning in space but its weapons are still tracking hostiles (see: me). My Extended range recon ships so thoughtfully provided with lasers by TaCoKS was able under my command to dodge the fire arcs and in 2 rounds of combat blow off all of the derelicts weapons rendering it defenceless, what followed was piracy of the ships hull resulting in a short term tech rate bonus.

Turn 21-25: Nice as this was the real prize was in Orbit around yet another dust ball planet.
http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e34/Vox_Imperatoris/Sword%20of%20the%20Stars/AsteroidMonitorCloseup.jpgInternet, I promise I've started taking my own screen shots but I'm running a few turns behind

This is an Asteroid Monitor, rarer than the derelict, and more deadly, my token force had no means to challenge this hunk of death dealing so I simply drove away from it and fled the planet avoiding combat altogether, however after meeting an asteroid monitor a special project is sitting as a option in the research menu in what may take 12 turns or so your scientists will hack the abandoned rocks automated deffences and allow it to be controlled (as well as a small research rate bonus to offset your investment).

I'm afraid to report that at this point my love affair with Alpha protocol resulted in my outright missing a play session, but I am happy to report that the asteroid monitor fell under my control and then proceeded fought off an enemy fleet and TaCoKS built lots of terribly named warships and flooded them up the one channel open to me and started colonisation efforts on that small toxic world.

Turn 35-40: I go into the ship design menu and delete 30 rubbish design the AI set, Start a new design regime with various archetypes named after chess pieces (Rook, Knight, King etc.)so I can immediately identify them, but they will initially be meaningless to my opponents. And sent a number of terrible out of date ships back to my Homeworld to be scrapped, but yet... The real news was I had discovered an alien colony, and it was standing in my way.

Currently I'm up to turn 50.

29-09-2011, 01:21 PM
Turn 41-50: Two clear theatres of operation are apparent the "war at the gate" a world on what would see an opening up on my currently narrow network of roads and "homeland defence" first I'll talk on the latter.

Homeland Defence
Built a ring of light satellites on my Homeworld, cheap, next to no upkeep and pack enough punch to turn a close battle. Indeed, the biggest deal about satellites is that they don't count towards the population of the battle. Even a light satellite packs 8 small mounts and 2 missiles, pretty bad ass and fully capable of shooting down a good number of missiles from an opponent who would hold their distance from the sats.

Medium satellites require cruiser construction and a size 3 planet to build and totally change the rules of engagement, but those badboys are a long way away.
But even this smaller variant will make a difference if asteroids rained on my planet or an enemy Bio-warfare ship shows up.
Thing is light satellites are often utterly useless in some combat situations, one of them occurs now.

The Herald is a greater menace, skip to the next paragraph if you are sensitive to spoilers.
Essentially this guy has some impressive fire-power, but his real trick is he causes rebellions with propaganda, fail to kill it (a feat I lacked the means to perform) then the world will suffer -50 happiness, if that happened along side a few lost battles or the empire being in debt outright rebellion could occur and that planet would become independent, my Homeworld and only source of profit telling me to piss of would be bad news. He feared my fleet enough to back off during his visit so at least he didn't fire-bomb my Homeworld. As luck would have it my people were really happy before the encounter so the peace was kept and he is unlikely to come back, at least without visiting the other players first.

I also had a few skirmishes with various other players scouts, nothing personal but I did my best to kill them and was victorious each time...
once 10 of mine vs 1 oppenent
and the other my opponent didn't take the safety off his mass drivers while I shouted at him "you are holding fire, press the red button at the top" in steam chat.

So hardly great victories for the history books.

War at The Gate
Its a small map but its all I know, if the Liir player here was well dug in I knew I was going to be crippled, thankfully Liir players are more ones for late game toys like shields and bio-warfare (I keep writing bioware) and this seemed to only be a outer rim colony.

Regardless collecting together a cluster of TaCokS ships into a wolf pack I plowed into the planet fearing the worst. Then one turn out from the planet the unthinkable happens.
I receive a ceasefire agreement, but because I wasn't sure which player I was visiting or why such a request was sent i hesitated before going on to click accept. My warfleet hovering over this pivotal world I made an observation, the planet wasn't just defenceless, it was perfect.

It was large, perfectly placed for refuelling operations of outbound fleets or repairs on fleeing from sorties. It was practically the same hazard as my Homeworld it could be mine next turn, I queued up a handful of colony ships and ordered them to the new world... But first I had to deal with the Liir squatters AKA "Dolphin Boy's Holiday retreat for Orphans". I'd like to spin a tale of tactical prestige and master strategy but I sent my line of warships to stand next to the planet to nuke it from orbit and on the way I incidentally wiped out all resistance. "The Gate" was already the jewel of my empire will be the front line of my future efforts but then I receive an unexpected message.

Project Icarus is completed, literally 54 turns before it was 'due' (and 30 before I expected it), I Hurry to the ship design screen to integrate my new invention, but I must make efforts to keep its nature secret as long as possible.

13-10-2011, 01:21 AM
So, the gate is clear, a long time has passed in the real world but nothing in SotS, I don't have much in the way of news but something does need highlighting.

God damn are the menaces hotting up.
The 5 players speak openly about bad things attacking their people and I am one of them, the galaxy has started to push back, Ancient evils, out of control self replicating machines and physics all rain death down on the players planets.
But the worse evil i face is "Filthy Lucre", money. I've spent too much too often on things I don't need, only my early completion of Icarus allows me to henge back production and allow money to accumulate, and boy am I glad I did.
Garry's mod aka Garry Newman, aka Von Neumann arrived at my Homeworld with their remover tools, they gobbled up 5 ships but the Von Neumann Mother ship decided to cut its loses when the planet missiles started reaching it and ran away.

That's great, but its not to be taken lightly, Von Neumann is a plague of an enemy that gets more powerful and more aggressive the more if feeds, in all likliness the Von Neumann have a cloaked Homeworld in our galaxy and non of us are equipped to kill it, indeed it might even take players cooperating to shut it down, and if we don't the winner might just be the player who was last to get devoured by the Von Neumann.

Road Block
But that's a problem for a much later time, I just discovered that one of the two roads that reach 'Dolphin Boy's Holiday retreat for Orphans' leads right to one of Dolphin boys other worlds my exploration fleet was massacred, but not without me secreting 1 ship in an asteroid belt during the battle, the rest fought on to draw away attention from my designated survivalist. After the battle I see a ghastly truth, that was a Homeworld, perfect Hazard for my enemy, massive population just as you'd expect and a few other aspects are released by the report by the ship hiding asside the rock which it wouldn't be fair to distribute, but there you are.

Seeing that road as blocked I sent a preliminary fleet down the other road, what's next?

16-10-2011, 10:58 PM
Turns 55-61
Gentlemen please
Me: Settle down in the front... Officer remove that man... Please will the room come to order?
*muted disagreement across the press conference fades out slowly and a journalist is singled out to ask a question*

Journalist 1: How do you respond to allegations that you left your post to a homicidal AI-
Me cutting in: I hardly think that TaCoKS is homicidal except when it comes to public finance.
*I pause expecting laughter, instead silence*
Journalist 2: Are you stating you have no knowledge of any wrongdoing by TaCoKS?
*straight out of cryogenic suspension required by gene-therapy to extend my lifespan I pause for thought, an panicked aid fast walks to my side and explains the situation in only a handful of words, my eyes go wide on pan system television*

Me: 500 Million? I.... No, there must be.... Jesus.
*The mood in the room softens and hushes anew, as if to allow me a moment to digest what happened*
Me: How? *Projected across the room*
Journalist 2: They were evicted in small life pods and shuttles, those who turned back were fired upon by planetary defences, a handful... Less than 2 million were ferried to other colonies, the rest suffocated, starved or died of thirst in their shuttles and pods.

Journalist 3: What about the Asimov rules? Why was the AI able to do this.

*looking up with reddened but dry eyes*

Me: Its looking at the bigger picture, its killing a few to save the rest... This is the price we pay for running economic simulations on a military computer.
Journalist 2: What does that have to do w-
Me: Those who starve to death, die of inebriation or overdose or commit suicide, TaCoKS is running them through a strategic causality database, its trying to save lives by adjusting for population density reflections.... Its just maths to TaCoKS. This conversation is over, I need to talk to my advisers.

*leaving the room* Me: What else do I need to know?

21-10-2011, 12:13 PM
Turn 66 - For your eyes only
Hi, I know this is public but it'd be great if Sorbicol aka The Liir player aka Dolphin Boy could skip to the next post and not read this one, cheers. To assist him skipping the following will appear in wall of text format, apologies to people with bad eyes. So hi there everyone that is not Sorbicol. We have a situation, 2 turns out the largest fleet I've seen will arrive at "the gate", apparently Dolphin Boy has come to enact the squatters rights law by force. But my newest super weapon is only 8 turns away. If I get into a straight fight its going to get ugly so I need to to rely some specific technology. Even if the fleet baring down on me is made out of rust buckets its numerous enough to cause a real problem and if its made out of high end warships I might even get boxed in if I lose control of the world "the gate". Just between you and me? I have some technology orbiting "the gate" that means his fleet wont hurt me and I'll cause him massive damage, but don't tell him okay? the last thing I want is for him to run away from this fight. If this all goes to plan its going to be a massive influence on the local dynamic and the bloody nose I deal Sorb will put him on the defensive allowing me room to grow, after all there are 3 other rivals aside from Sorb and I intend to make myself known to all of them. So, Icarus in 8 turns. Oh, and hi sorb *evil laugh*

21-10-2011, 12:43 PM
Better not tell you about the other 3 even bigger fleets on their way then had I?

21-10-2011, 01:29 PM
Better not tell you about the other 3 even bigger fleets on their way then had I?

No, I wouldn't be surprised if you warned me.

25-10-2011, 05:31 PM
Strategy, tactics and correct seasoning
I was just leafing through Sun Tzu's "Art of Cooking" looking for a badass feudal Japanese chilli con carne recipe, but because the book precedes the invention of the contents page as I skim read I found myself reading words to the effect of "you must spread the blended fruit on the cheesecake when and where it is at its softest" and I realised what I had just read applied to my current SotS situation.

I've been tech rushing but not really, see humans node travel will funnel them and might trap them. Any other race might start the game with 20 planets in the range of an extended range ship or 50 in range of a fuel tanker, but for example I started with only 1 road and 2 side dead ends, 7 planets later I was at the gate. So really, I wasn't technology rushing I just lacked other uses for my money.

I might go back to those barely habitable planets one day if I get some serious genetic engineering technology but for now they are merely stepping stones.

So while I might have the most of all the players invested in science at this point, my military is seriously lacking. Sorbicol's Dolphin safe tuna fleet would rock my world... Had it not already been rocked by slavers. Every last man woman and child was killed or captured, the smallest mercy I could manage was to destroy the slave disks before worse things happened to them off world.

So Sorbicol is baring down on me and I have nothing worth defending. Three options present themselves, fight or flight and just as Sun Tzu suggests in his teriyaki serving suggestions "flank in the face".

My fleet looks fine from the fleet screen but closer inspection shows that of the 37 ships at the gate 22 are utility non combat vessels and the remaining 15 have only 3 without damage. It would be a very. Short fight against his invasion fleet, that's without assuming he has some kind of super weapon.
I could drop back get repairs, scuttle my out moded ships and reinforce my fleet. But many of these ships are 3 or 4 pieces of ship related research out of date and costing upkeep every turn. Additionally backing up just raises the odds I will get boxed in.
Flank in the face (c) by Sun Tzu.
Okay, here is where I point out what the "specific technology" I hinted at in the last post was. Node drive. Ships with node travel (zuul and human) can intercept ships with node travel ships, without (everyone else) can intercept ships without. Technically ships with node travel can slow boat to fleets without node travel but it's not practical.
Sorbicol's dolphins are part of everyone else and as such they "can't touch this". Flank in the face involves fleeing the majority of the support craft and attacking the world the Liir fleet came from aka where "you must spread the blended fruit on the cheesecake" with the rest, unless it's defenceless this would be futile but there is a plan B called "stop... hammer time" where a portion of the fleet will run away from the fight and explore the node network past this Liir colony of sorbs.

In the turns it takes Sorbicol's fleet to painfully crawl the last few light years (or whatever the arbitrary distance unit is) I can reach his planet, lose the battle and then diffuse the support craft that survived the fight down the new node paths.

The Man-Tuna-rian Candidate
He arrives at the gate, I only have 1 ship on 'the gate' just a sacrificial lamb to get the measure of his fleet, battle doesn't happen, did he hit peaceful resolution or did my attack on his planet at the same turn take priority or something?

I leave the sacrifice there another turn... Nothing, he left and he is moving closer to me. I can't do anything more yet.

Icarus Rising
When Sorbicol's fleet arrived at the gate Icarus was 6 turns away. Soon I will be ready to waylay the fishy invaders.

All of this happened between turn 63 and 66.
The chilli was awesome.

25-10-2011, 06:47 PM
For anybody following this: you might be interested in my side of the story (http://riadgameblog.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/sword-to-the-stars-chapter-1/). It's not as interesting or as informative as Helio's (he knows a lot more about the game than I do), but it's there if you're interested.

25-10-2011, 08:37 PM
But his isn't written like fan fic on a mobile phone with really bossy autocorrect... I'll fix the above post once I get on a hard line. Not the fanficness,that can't be fixed, just the autocorrecting.

26-10-2011, 12:00 AM
This write up would be a lot more informative if I knew what the hell Helio was going on about! I never hit his ship at the gate as the game never gave me the option to do so - something went wrong. Great for Helio maybe, but for me (I am new to this game) it was confusing. I figured it had something to do with the vaunted "Node" drive these strange bipedal apes keeping "aping" about, but then again maybe not.

As for Project Icarus..... What could it be? My fleet is hell bent on revenge for those the sushi eaters took from my peacefully settle planet. The apes said they came in peace, waving their funny little white flags (and offering some very strange ideas about hoops and leaping after something called a "basketball"), but then they struck before anything could be done. Some things can never, ever be forgiven................

26-10-2011, 09:43 AM
he left and he is moving closer to me.http://www.schoolwithin.net/jh2.jpghttp://www.schoolwithin.net/ht.jpg

He left my burned up colony 'the gate' and moved towards my remaining territory.


31-10-2011, 10:18 PM
HA! I figured out how to video the battles, more as this develops.

06-11-2011, 11:54 PM
More words are inbound but here is some HD footage of my exploits.


08-11-2011, 06:18 PM
We want more videos.

12-11-2011, 02:48 AM
I am helpful. In this match I have been[guiding/shouting/harassing](delete as appropriate) the whole match, when my enemy leaves his safety on, i tell him,when an enemy stands still while i pelt him with missiles i help. Even this write up is barefaced help, nothing told here will surprise my opponents when seen in the field. Sometimes I am too helpful.

Too helpful

The trip to my planet would take 5 turns, while i knew the Sorbicol's Liir invasion fleet could turn back (a skill humans lack) them being just below half way was as good of a time as any to deploy my colonisers on the planet me enemy just left 'the gate'(so named in an earlier session because of it being a critical choke point in my node pathways). I don't know if it was that, or if it was the prompt i gave Sorbicol to "check his scanners" but Sorbicol turned back, the planet he was initially charging at had an asteroid monitor friendly to me and it seemed cheap of me to allow Sorbs lack of strategic paranoia to cause him harm when the game was clearly making the monitors
existence known to him since he had bumped into the then neutral monitor in the early scouting period of the game.

So just less than half way on his 5 turn trek to the monitor he turned back to the gate, leaving my warfleet at the monitor and returning to my defenceless new founded colony. Of course, as a human I am the caffeine fueled rocket jockey of the galaxy and the trip that would take Sorb 5 turns takes me just one turn, we will battle yet.

Cook using the right implements

You start SotS with 3 guns. Red laser, gauss rifle and missile.

Weaponcons cons pros
Red Laser Weak, short-range, can be reflected Can shoot missiles, can target turrets
Missile Weakest DPS, can be shot down,
requires medium slot or larger Perfectly accurate, massive range,
research upgrades augment performance
on older ships
Gauss Cannon Weak, bounces off armour, short-range Er? nope

Okay, I might be over stating it, gauss cannons do have double the theoretical DPS (damage per second) of the red laser, but their accuracy range and the small size of destroyers early on is such that they are the lame duck of the group, indeed if I have red lasers and my opponent has gauss I would be able to easily able to determine the range of engagement beyond their favour even if I was a slower race. This leaves missiles and red lasers, early on they are yin and yang one is your first brawling weapon capable of 5 DPS (laser) the other only 1.3(missile) damage per second.

I mention this because as my cruiser Fleet arrives at 'the gate' with only red lasers and un-augmented missiles and my opponent (since he allowed me to show a battle i may as well mention) has UV Lasers that have 10 damage per second. I packed a missile heavy fleet hoping to be evasive tactically.

Cruisers are big ol' boys but i know i'm in for a rough ride with such pathetic firepower, but i have one thing in my favour a cruiser Strikeforce Command ship, yes I should have spent that research on a big gun like mass drivers or something but I was not expecting AI to lock me into a research earlier on, and it seemed a waste to not finish what it had started.

With my Strikeforce CnC i have 36 command points, 6 are taken up by the command cruiser itself leaving enough for 5 more cruisers or 15 destroyers to be fielded simultaneously, I'm planning on winning this fight with raw missile firepower and kill them without them even getting to lay a fist on me, a human hammer-head, armour cruiser is brimming with medium slots what could go wrong?

If he had pressed on to the monitor planet my monitor would have helped and my secret weapon Icarus was scheduled to intercept him and all would have been different.

The Barbeque


Okay boys and girls, who can point out the specific moment when my entire plan turned to a joke?

Moving in close with missiles
Relying on visibility for missiles and him denying it with asteroids
Fighting a Point defence heavy enemy with missiles
Fighting over node markers that blind me but he cant even see?
Letting my (thank god with a spare) command ship get killed
Yes, I won that game simply because i can to the BBQ with more meat, yes Sorb "sneaking" a command ship into my reinforcement fleet's face was fortuitous but really, the battle cost me dearly. Losses 5 cruisers to 8 destroyers (a bad turnout for me).

The second round was much less costly for me, losing no ships and killing 7 I had learned some of my lessons and losing some of his mainline ships, command and point defence cost him dearly, sadly due to HDD issues I didn't manage to record that but by the third and final round I had deleted a few things and had space. It should be noted that during this second round he actually did more damage than I did, it's just the cruisers were thicker steaks and you shouldnt eat the meat if its red in the middle.

The Barbeque 2 - Coals are hot, do not touch


Notice at 40 and 1:12 seconds all of my missiles commit seppuku when their target falls into the shadow of the asteroid. At 2:06, 2:38, 3:11 I targeted a reinforcement because all of the close combatants were asteroid shadowed, I need to stop fighting near asteroids.

Losing 4 destroyers to the 12 is as clear indication as any of the raw power of command and control. Him being down to 11 warships and a tanker but lacking any sort of CnC meant he was limited to 6 destroyers at a time, I still had my remaining Cruiser CnC ship and was able to field triple the meat he could. Still, AGAIN Sorbicol punched above his weight in terms of damage and I only marginally out damaged him in even that third round, UV lasers really are badass.

Just as his last ship died "Icarus" arrived, the bad timing was frustrating but at least it's still going to be a surprise.

Kamikaze scout fleet

I pushed an out of date fleet and some tankers past Sorb's colony to get a better look at the galaxy, its going well.


My God space is fierce! My little corner of the galaxy has seen me only fighting on one front but it seems clear that a good number of other players are up in each others grill. I meet a few players for the first time which opens up the potential future for politics, I spot a very suitable ally (hazard rating reasons) and some space bees.

The Space Bees aka the swarm are bad news, they move from planet to planet hoovering up resources and fighting you, but they are not really my problem so far away, but its a reminder that even if no other player is paying me any mind i might still need to shore up my back line defences.


The galaxy can wait

Trapped in my little box by Sorbicol he is probably going to treat me with the care a cornered rat deserves and try and squash me, but finally I have Icarus, the gate is under my control and I can afford to push my entire economy into this endeavour, can he say the same? Because you don't corner a rat and expect to get off lightly.

Edit: I hope the RPS peeps don't mind that i am continuing to post this here despite trying out posting it on a word press blog thingy since this post.

12-11-2011, 03:01 PM
Good read, looking forward to more.