After 20 hours, finally finished game... and on Hard!


I started playing last week and kept dying, regardless of difficulty - easy, normal, hard, I would always get wiped out by a massive force before I could jump out. I'd have tons of upgrade points and scrap by map 2, but I'd still get wiped out even after upgrading a lot. What I realized was that I was good at penny-pinching, but I was making two mistakes:

1. Not taking full advantage of maneuver tactics.
I'd plow through many sectors, and then I'd reach one where all the sectors ahead have heavy presences. Not seeing any choices, I'd pick one - and proceed to get blasted to bits by the mass of ships there. Finally, I learned: wait a turn, to see if you can draw out some of the enemies to you. Each time the enemy sent a few ships my way, I could handily outnumber them and wipe them out. Or, I'd use a distress beacon to bait a bunch of them, and then jump to one of the points they abandon to go chase me. While a swarm of them are charging into the spot I'd just left, I'm wrecking one of their sectors. By using such cut-and-run tactics, I was able to whittle down their forces while ensuring that as many battles as possible were ones where I had a distinct advantage (either in numbers, ally mercenaries, battlestations, or long range weapons). I also made sure to choose my jumps carefully so I don't get trapped in an anomaly or asteroid field.

2. Not keeping up with the arms race.
I really like the Ion Cannon Mark 2. It's good damage, long range, and traps ships. The problem is that it's just not strong enough in later maps - and it's far too weak at close range. By Map Two, it's time to gradually move to other weapons like Photon Torpedoes (it seems they bypass shields, too) or Dual Plasmas. I also learned to mix weapons, having a blend of long range missiles (torpedoes or triple-burst missiles) together with long range energy (Ions < Plasmas < Death Ray), along with a solid close range gun (Gatling < Flak < Vulcan). I also wisely chose to buy very little in the way of point defense, simply sticking with basic bolters and only upgrading via freebies salvaged from combat. This left the bulk of my upgrade points for my weapons and such.

My ending loadout, essentially the same over three Valiant Heavy Cruiser Carriers:
2x Nuke or MegaPlasma in rear
1x Vulcan Cannon in center
1x Death Ray in front
4x Gatling Point Defense in Front
2x Laser Point Defense in Front
6x Shield Boosters in middle and rear slots.
2x Bolter Fighters in both bays.

Other notes:
a. I bought a lot of shield boosters early on. This allowed me to take very little damage in many battles, allowing me to save money and not need to run back to battlestations for repairs.
b. I also bought Bolter Fighers early on as well. I used them primarily as cannon fodder - they shot down missiles, attacked close ships or fighters - but their primary value was in eating up damage. More often than not, incoming nukes or megaplasmas slammed into my fighters, wiping it out while leaving my carriers completely untouched.
c. My starting weapon choices were just a single energy cannon and a single projectile cannon, both un-upgraded. I saved my upgrade points for my bolter fighters, because I wanted more cannon fodder to shield my ships.
d. Since all my point defense faced forward, I made sure to always turn my ships whenever possible to face enemies.
e. The enemy will not destroy friendly ships unless you are in that sector as well. So, I took advantage of this to "drop off" ally ships at strategic places - but did not try to engage in pitched battles there unless I was ready. Secure in knowing that they'd be right where I left them, I took my time mopping up resistance using the hit and run tactics described above until I was fully ready to go into a pitched battle (like taking an enemy battlestation). At that point, I "picked up" my left-behind ally, took him into battle, and then used him as additional cannon fodder while I pounded the enemy from long range.
f. Because my ships were slow, I knew that if I tried to rescue a battlestation it would likely be destroyed before I could get to it. So, I used the hit-and-run tactics above to draw the enemy away from battlestation sectors, then jumped to it, set up camp around the station, and then lured the enemy back in.
g. nukes and megaplasmas are terrible. but not when you have multiples of them and a good blend of close/long range weapons. they can't be shot down.

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After 20 hours, finally finished game... and on Hard! - by duenor - 04-03-2016, 01:05 AM

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