AnalysisMarch 12 2004 at 7:47 PM
|Sirian (no login)|
from IP address 18.104.22.168
Response to Slight hijack
One of the reasons I consider MOO such a masterpiece is how well it resists the pointy stick solution. To my knowledge, there's nothing even remotely similar to what we saw upon Civ3's release, with warrior gambits, archer gambits, and following AI settler pairs around to take over their newly founded cities. There's simply no such in MOO1 as a single military unit waltzing into an "undefended" colony. To take a colony for yourself, you must fight a ground battle. There are no shortcuts. To wipe out colonies with orbital bombardment, you must use bombs. Other weapons initially available are too weak. Bombs are useless against ships, thus vulnerable to enemy fleets.
MOO doesn't lend well to rush tactics. Missile bases are relatively cheap to build. Perhaps on small maps, a rush could get somewhere. On large and huge maps, you'd run smack into range limitations. Range would require investing into colony ships and techs, which would require some economic strength. By the time you could even GET INTO RANGE of your targets, the AI would have more than enough missile bases to take out anything you might send in the form of rushed low-tech assaults.
If we're talking Warp One engines, max maneuverability is one tile. You have to move seven times just to get INTO bomb range on the tactical map, so whatever force you bring, you've got to be able to write off seven of your small throwaway ships for each defending base, just to reach the enemy planet.
If we're talking missile boats, you won't fit a missile onto a small ship that early. So you'd have to use medium ships, and at 18 hp each, five missiles would take one down. Six if you have Class I shields, but I'm not sure that will fit. Four points of damage from each nuke is rather pathetic, and after five shots you're out of ammo.
This is just counting enemy defense bases. The AI's on higher difficulty start with ships and have production bonuses. They will build larger fleets than you. You'd have to catch their fleet away from your target, but of course, at that tech level, you have no scanners to see what's going on, so you would HAVE to guess, unless there's a bait move to lure them somewhere. I'm not aware of one. The most likely thing to lure an AI fleet is a target they want to go after, meaning one of your planets. You wouldn't be able to pay for a war to start between two AI's.
Perhaps "early game" is in the eye of the beholder. Some folks may think of Tech Level 30 as "early game". They may also be talking about lower difficulty, and what is possible with the strongest races, most favorable terrain, etc.
The range issues really kill the universality of any rush tactics, though. You won't even MEET most of your neighbors until well past anything qualifying as early game (as you and I seem to think of it), on the larger maps. And as you point out, if playing the highest difficulty level, the AI's will have massive bonuses to start, so anybody who is including a need to do any significant research as part of their attack plan is blowing smoke out their tail pipe with claims of beating down the AI with a pointy stick.
There's a difference between wiping out an opponent, using rush tactics to dominate, and being able to make significant gains using military assets. You and I debated the potential worth of low-tech assets during the land grab phase, the last time we talked MOO at any length. I had asserted some value to building low tech military as part of my xenophobic "don't even let em scout the system" approach. I've gotten into some rather "hot" action in some distinctly cold wars, fending off AI expansion moves to try to extend the reach of my land grab. One might rightly call that "pointy stick" gameplay, but I don't know that it fits what you are talking about. I draw a distinction between hot wars to take away core territory from a rival, vs cold wars (undeclared conflicts) to try to elbow one another out in a disputable area, where neither side is yet entrenched.
MOO is very much a practical game, not a politically correct game. It accurately reflects the principle about possession being nine tenths of the law. The AI's are coded to try to WIN, not to "play nice". They will not sign peace treaties that box them into a corner. If they are blocked from expanding, they may back out of a treaty. (When's the last time you saw a Civ3 AI back out of anything, except with a highly dishonorable sneak attack? And the GalCiv AI never breaks an alliance, never reaches a point at which they say that a given alliance no longer serves their interests. Never.)
There's plenty one can do with early military in MOO, but the thing is, ship assets are not upgradable, so their lifespan is limited. Investing in defense bases gives you an upgradable asset that will continue to be viable over time. Investing in ships is a short term offering. You will do it either with the intent to use them offensively, or as a mobile supplemental to your defense, especially if the enemy SoD looks dangerous enough to beat down your missile defenses.
Unless you can deal a DECISIVE deathblow with a fleet, then you're talking about limited objectives. And unless you can gain a technological or production edge, you won't be able to sustain a decisive fleet.
The thing is, we don't know for sure, do we? Has there ever been a large MOO tournament? One where skilled players have gathered, where the game has been scrutinized in a way to compare with the play of others? If so, I never heard about it. I've played in isolation, and as you know, I have an automatic variantism to my gameplay style that will seek out challenges rather than aim at breaking the game. I don't look very hard for loopholes, so some might exist of which I am not aware.
We'll have to see how the game stands up when put through the ringer. We may find cracks we didn't know about before. I'm confident that we can adjust for those. If some moves are found to be too strong, to where they undermine the credibility of the game balance, we can set boundaries. From where I sit now, I believe that a lot turns on the terrain. Some games of MOO, the AI's get some poor starts, or bad breaks, and some games turn out to be cakewalks. Other times the reverse is true. Certainly any game without a second colonizable world in immediate range falls into a whole other category of challenge. If it becomes necessary, I should be able to reduce the instance of dud games -- both ways, too easy and too hard -- with scenario editing tools. I'm not sure that will be needed, though.
My first thought is for tourney play to begin on Average difficulty. This may be "too easy" for some vets, but the tourney won't float if we don't bring in new blood, and we'll need every vet we can get to help with momentum, since reading reports and being walked through games is what will engage the lurkers. With Civ3, we had six months of SG play to judge the abilities of our core players. We won't have that here, so I'll have to do some trial and error on pitching appropriate challenge levels, and on managing the balance effectively for both vets and rookies.
My writings about the game are generating some positive reviews, so I hope that helps build more interest. If people smell real fun happening, rather than just hype, I'm confident they will be drawn in in sufficient numbers.
- Heh - Zed on Mar 12, 8:56 PM
- Turnout - Sirian on Mar 12, 10:57 PM