Part 17: Turns 21-63, take 2
Memories of a better time - Let's Play Sword of the Stars as the Hiver Imperium.
Update 3. Turns 21-63 Take 2!
In which bugs swat some other bugs
The vote was fairly in favour of doing the last 20 turns over, so here we go.
Back on turn 21, and things are looking proper for a Hiver start. By which I mean we have ships going everywhere.
About the only concession I make towards having prior knowledge is colonising a less hospitable world than I would normally with 2 turns worth of Colony ships.
There are some slightly more hospitable worlds covered by our gate network, but they are Size 1, so will take longer to pay themselves off. I'll likely colonise them once I have colony cruisers.
I put the Terraforming slider way up. There are two reasons for this. The first is that Industrial Output is red, telling me that the colony currently does not have enough colonists to operate its infrastructure. The other, and the reason I advise always focusing on terraforming first, is that a colony being inhospitable/requiring terraforming has a lower population growth. The faster it terraforms, the sooner it starts producing money to fill the treasury.
Still a horrible planet.
Even my other colony, which was cheaper to start terraforming, can't use all its infrastructure, and it has a bunch more citizens.
We get point defense, and the red on the little honeycomb there tells me that we've reached the population cap and they're complaining about it.
We also find our indepandant neighbours (again).
And find another half decent world to colonise. It'll never be a decent shipyard with only 4000 resources, but it can still produce precious cashbucks.
Speaking of, one of our colonies is terraformed now. Once they're done terraforming, they put all of their production towards finishing their infrastructure anyhow. Another reason to focus Terraforming first. Though not 100% of it because Infrastructure they actually use does contribute to terraforming speed.
The sensors on our deployed gate pick up a strange thing coming through space. I wonder what it could be?
This is the swarm, expanding. If all you have are fixed emplacements (gate ships, defense platforms, planets) the game defaults to auto-resolving, since there isn't much you can generally do with them to alter the outcome of a battle. The gate gets wrecked, as I expected.
We complete some more research. We can now colonise planets that are 75 more hazardous, and we terraform better.
One of the OTHER galactic hazards shows up. a Von Neumann squadron. They usual encounter you have with them is a resource collection fleet like this one. Its mission is to dig up 500 resources of planet and take it home to make more Von Neumanns. It is quite effective at this. Since we have a gate station here, it will take less from the planet, but also will take our gate. If you have defense platforms up it doesn't actually take any planetary resources, even if you don't destroy it. But there's one more technology I want before I build those.
We've effectively explored our own cluster, so I start ordering exploration squadrons to visit a neighbouring cluster.
I also start researching command sections for our destroyers. This lets us both command more destroyers in a combat, and allows us to choose how they arrive and in what order. There are a few other things they do, but we'll cover that when we come to it.
The aftermath of the attack. Systems get little explosions around them on the starmap after there's been combat there. It's also developed enough to build its own gateship to rejoin the network.
I commission an Extended Range class to deal with our swarm problems. I've also researched Pulsed Fission drives to make our ships a bit faster. This also means i can use the old Gate/Tanker squadrons to follow our flyswatters at a safe distance, though having command ships mitigates this somewhat anyhow.
And start to learn lizard speak.
We go to rebuild our destroyed gate. And clean out the new tenants.
We learn Lizard, and one of our scout fleets discovers an alien derelict around a nearly ideal world. Which destroys its fuel ship. I order the gate ship to set up, since it deploys out of range of the derelict, this is perfectly safe, and next time I can deploy some warships to solve the problem permenantly.
I research bigger missile warheads. These are more important for planetary defense than our current military operations, as planets and defense platforms rely heavily on missiles to destroy attackers.
See! setting up a gate is perfectly safe.
And the promised squad of ships comes to clean it up.
Meet the alien derelict. It's got some damage from the previous fight. One of the things that is occasionally useful in SOTS2 is the ability to target specific parts of enemy ships. In this case, I've told my ships to aim for the forward turret, which is at the centre of the concentric circles there. You can blow turrets off ships, and against derelicts, it's the preferred tactic.
Our ships quickly encircle the target.
You can also see here one of the turrets flying off into space after being shot off.
Despite requiring some tricky shooting, we manage to take the derelict intact.
And here is why you want to disarm derelicts if you can. If you destroy it, it's 25% (or 10%) for 1 turn instead.
One tool I have been using and haven't really talked about is the News Ticker. This handy tool scrolls all the events of the turn across the bottom of the screen. If you click one of them, it pops a small information box up on the top right of the screen about events of the turn. Double clicking the box zooms you to the event location, or appropriate screen. It is incredibly useful for managing exploration. Or just a large empire in general.
I send another squad of destroyers to clear out the main swarm cluster in our space.
Normally I'd stop at this turn, but one of our fleets is practically at the Swarm's doorstep. As you might suspect by the name, this squad is expected to take casualties. But at 20k a ship, I'm not really worried.
I also get the last tech I was waiting for for defense satellites.
I generally prefer using sniper cannons because they fire nearly as fast, do nearly the same damage, but shoot a heck of a lot further, and more accurately. Since Light defense sats are more for annoying the enemy than close quarters combat, sniper cannons let them inflict a lot more damage before their inevitable destruction.
While setting up a new colony, this happens. Veterans of the game know exactly what this is. It's also why the tanker is still here, not that it ends up helping.
Also, our attack fleet arrives. Yay! Murdertime!
The Swarm defense itself by sending out lots of tiny little bugs equipped with plasma cannons. Point defense is one of the best ways to deal with them. There are other techniques if you don't have that. Which is part of the reason I brought Extended Range ships instead of Armours. Though I only end up losing 1 ship, so.
This also gives me an opportunity to show off the combat UI.
At the top left, we have this window. It allows you to set the default posture for every ship in the battle. Including reinforcements. From left to right, they are:
Retreat - Orders all ships to leg it, and no reinforcements will enter the battle.
Normal - ships go to where you tell them and engage from there.
Stand Off - Orders ships to try and keep range on the enemy target. Good for missile boats.
Close to attack - Tells all ships to CHARGE and close to attack.
Pursue (hidden under a tooltip) - Orders your ships to chase down the enemy. They're less prone to drivebys in this stance than Close to Attack.
The little green button is the fleet weapons free/hold fire button. It's generally red on first contact situations. Until one of the sides opens fire, then it defaults to green when they're about.
The next row is how the fleet positions itself.
Face Target - Point the nose of the ship at the target
Turn Broadside - turn so you're at a right angle to the enemy
Face Heading - no turning allowed, point the way your move order says to
The list of ships is the reinforcement queue, and is only visible if you have a command ship in system. When a ship is lost or withdraws, the next ship(s) on the list deploy, up to your command limit.
The bomb icon up top (greyed out) is whether the fleet should bombard the enemy colony, which is the usual method you use to steal all their planets. If you're raiding, or dropping certain bioweapons, you might not want your fleet to kill all their citizens.
On the top right of the screen is where you can check the status of, and give orders to, the ship(s) you have selected.
Along the top row, we have:
Area Weapons firing - Certain weapons can be hazardous to friendly ships if you fire them in close quarters, so you have to click the A to clear them to fire their giant explodey shots.
The next button, and the 4 on the right, are the same as in the fleet section, except for only the individual ship.
The dot running away from the backward C is an important order you can give ships. It orders them to disengage. They have to stop getting shot at to successfully do this, so it doesn't always work, especially in planetary assaults. But when defending a world, or just cleaning up, pulling back damaged ships can significantly reduce casualties. It can also be a way to get vulnerable Biowarfare and Assault Shuttle ships in close to planets. Or to withdraw them once they've fired off their payloads.
On the left, you have the weapon groups, which I actually forget how to assign at the moment. Each group can be manually shut down with the top icon, or can be ordered to only fire at selected targets with the second icon. The little dot down the bottom selects all weapon groups I guess. As you can probably tell, I don't use this feature much.
You can also see the status of the ship's weapons, but since we have gauss cannons and point defense weapons, they reload too fast for it really to matter. I'll show it off again when we get larger weapons.
Anyhow. There was a swarm around. Since they're going to surround us with their light craft anyhow, I order all ships to advance on the suspicious rock in the distance.
I group the fleet up as we move closer. And also select a grouping that doesn't include the poor destroyer who lost his engines in the bottom left.
Against the swarm, you generally want to have a tighter group of ships so they can share coverage from each other's point defense and light weapons. The swarm is fast, but weak.
After we clear out the defenders, we proceed to fill their hive with our balls. The damage fires make more sense on manufactured vessels. Or when you're using energy weapons. Oh well. It shows its taken a ton of damage anyhow.
The game pretends it's Crusader Kings 2 and hides half the UI (and ships) in the screenshot.
Colony traps are kind of jerks. When you try and colonise a planet, a number of drones launch from the surface, and tractor beam your colony ships. They're rare enough that it's not worth escorting colony fleets or spending the extra money to upgun them. But they still suck when you trip one. Morrigi get a technology to disable (and build) them, and there is maybe a technology in Cybernetics or Morrigi diplomacy to disarm them. Larger colony ships are also better equipped to deal with them.
As for our destroyer colony ships...
We do have a few colony ships survive the ordeal, so we can colonise next turn.
And to close out the update.
Woo, cashbux! Taking out Silicoid queens is generally more lucrative than their nests.
And it's turn 63. Killing bugs was worth it though.