Stellaris is a strange game. I guess that goes for any game that is worthy of note and takes place in space. Basically it's a clone of GalCiv II. There isn't too many tactical options and basically the game revolves around the society parts.
There is more to it though. Let me share a war story.
So I was still playing that medium galaxy and things are quite linear and boring. This game has looong periods between wars/skirmishes. So, I'm neighboring two stronger empires and one that is pretty much on par with me. None of them seems to understand the concept of interstellar expansion, sounds like a turkey shoot for an emperor-veteran like me. I check the power assessment of the Pallyrian oligarchy and their only advantage is a somewhat larger fleet. Piece of cake, just go for it, building more and more ships while you outplay your opponent, right? I decide to bring democracy to them!
War doesn't work that way in Stellaris.
So I started with defining my wargoals (we'll come to that later), gather my fleet and briskly head to the Pallyrian territory with my fleet of 4.5k military strength. Only to be greeted by their blob of 6.2k military strength. Hmmmm. Not a good idea to take that on when your superior tactical acumen is of no help. (And you're not sure if you have any advantage as comes to mechanics.) The computer appeared to play really well, a solid defensive manuever blocking my every attack and not even falling to my cunning traps (not to mention you can't even build 8 defense platforms on top of each other ). So what's left? Good old guerilla tactics and maneuver warfare with hit and run attacks! So I split up and proceed to raid the enemy mining stations with a few very small groups in a bitter war of attrition. Yeah I got a few mining stations, but that doesn't amount to much.
When it comes to war, the game has similarities to Eve Online that go far beyond the superficial. Yeah tactics are fairly lame, but the beef is in operational level maneuvering. Small fleets hitting anything remotely soft and trying to evade the big blob or get ganked like noobs. Which I eventually did, making small mistakes here and there and getting caught at the edges of the system just before warping out. Eventually I had to retreat to my strong territory with the spaceport and a defense station with what scraps remained of my fleet ... well THIS time the enemy followed with their main fleet - I took the challenge as the odds seemed best here. A complete disaster.
So what I did, I negotiated for peace - yes, this game feels like the FIRST ever where you kind of have an actual peace negotiation - using the wargoals you (they, as it turned out) defined at the beginning of the war. I had to cede 3 planets, shameful display! So, just acknowledge it was a shit game and start over? We've seen people quit time and again after their tactics fall apart in the first 3 minutes in WarGame. DON'T DO IT! So after opting out of being obliged to commit seppuku due to our code of honor, I somehow had to recover from losing a bunch of planets and my entire fleet, and the solution was aggressive colonial expansion. The AI doesn't expand that much but I know that great empires are always built on the people (ie. population) so I had an advantage there.
So, a few decades pass and a few presidents leave office due to unexpected death caused by old age, and I'm ready for a second round against the Pallyrian horsefaces. Instead of ditching the good old guerilla tactics that just tripped and fell on their face the last time, I decide to revise them. Essentially, I will be playing the initial Luftwaffe strategy (Battle of Britain): eliminate their space superiority by hitting their airfields (spaceports) and radar stations (mining stations). After all, upgraded spaceports cost... they cost a lot. And they are your only way to build ships.
My fleet is still (to my dismay) smaller, but it is bigger this time and I have several scouts or very small detachments for raiding the mining stations. With larger attacks I reach some solid early success as the enemy main fleet (they never really split it up) is chasing ships elsewhere.
You really have to do careful micromanagement in this department, so the endless maneuvering and positioning out of harm's way is very reminiscent of Eve Online (for good or bad). Timing is essential - if the enemy fleet warps on top of you and you still have warp cooldown ongoing, you need to be very lucky to get out. Safer is to warp in from another stellar direction than the enemy fleet(s) will be coming, so they'll have to cross the system while you can warm up your engines at your leisure. Mining stations turn out to be of key military significance as they often lock fleets into battle even when the main target is taken out / the path is clear otherwise - also they project the full sensor range, so I send my fleets all over the enemy space to take out each and every mining/research station and keep an eye on the enemy main fleet movement at all times:
pallyrian_20170707221315_1.jpg (131.38 KiB) Viewed 89 times
I sneak my main fleet far south and very successfully invade a planet, then another... Yeah, it seems there is a bit of a lack in AI programming as the one humongous blob seems to chase whatever small and shiny target is nearby and in intel range... while my main fleet is hammering priority 1 objectives in relative peace. Eventually my warscore gets big enough so the Pallyrian studs surrender unconditionally, giving me just 3 planets (didn't ask for more in wargoals) and there's yet another liberated microempire friendly to me with 3 more planets. (The number of empires only increases as the game progresses, it seems!)
Generally I find much to like in some aspects of design and game balance. As said fleets can be slow to build! You don't do that with spaceports (1-2 is often plenty) but with minerals - overall the economy seems to totally revolve around the handful of resource types as you're treading water in each, trying to survive with production > consumption and little room to adjust in the early game if you suddenly colonize a planet or something. But there is an interesting tradeoff between growth now vs resources sitting idle waiting for the crisis. War is very costly, ship maintenance is huge and fleet cap is tight (unless you build lots of spaceports etc) and you don't get the resources of occupied planets until it's all over, the wargoal negotiations finished and they are legally yours.
I wish they had copied a bit more Eve Online in ship design too. When all the mid/lowslots are identical between hull variants, and the only difference between ship models is the number and size of weapons... it's not enough for ship personality in my opinion.
another505 wrote:I really dislike sci fi in strategy games
I cant stand their bs jargon
"Our hyperdrive has been disabled" 90% of the technologies in Beyond Earth
I wish there were more titles in the style of Warhead/Aliens/Event Horizon/Dune. Take cookie cutter game design/concepts and slap on cookie cutter backstory/instantly accessible style... I think you saw the disease that plagues the genre.
Spoiler : :
A bit more of a spoiler but gives you an idea what the movie is all about:
I know I´m late for the party but, you are overthinking Stellaris, it basically only revolves around minerals. Therefore seeing your screenshot hurt a lot, 96 years into the game and only doing 95 minerals per turn hurts a lot. By this point you should do atleast 400-500. Besides spaceport cheesing and the first few colonies, in the first few years you only do scouting/researching every fuckin system that is around you, then you do everything to expand as rapidly as possible to get all the minerals. You should have atleast 2 science ships for researching systems only and 3 single corvettes only to jump into systems and scout them. Trying to keep your empire small with high research will always loose to the empire that completly shits on research and simply tries to get as many planets/systems as possible.
About ship combat, the system isnt nearly as diverse as you´d think, there is basically 1 cookie cutter build for every ship class. Also weapon/shield/...... upgrades are usually not worth their cost, a fully upgraded corvette that costs 300 minerals will every single time loose to the amount of completly unupgraded corvettes you can build for 300 minerals. Destroyers are basically trash and should be avoided. The only reason you fully upgrade battleships and cruisers in comparison to corvettes if because of the construction time.
How about fleet maintenance being a factor too? In the late game I'm producing like 640 minerals, but only 220 are left in the +ive because of ship, station and consumer spending maintenance. The balance is a bit unusual in the game with often research winning it in the end for most other variations of the genre. Could be that there is so many different bonuses in Stellaris they try and keep each to a small scale (though dunno if +20 or +30 from just ethics or such could be considered minor?).
I kinda figured minerals are #1 bottleneck, since basically you build everything with minerals. I didn't make much progress until I appointed the president that lets you build constructor vessels and mining stations at a discount - then I built 8 of the ships and went crazy! How do you get to so many minerals early on anyway? By just building very selective things around the galaxy? At least I think you should be very careful with building frontier stations, the maintenance cost is huge in influence and it seems you can't easily remove them as your systems will become disconnected. I exploited a +36 system early on only to lose all the mining stations to angered ancient mining drones Do you capitalize on adjacency/planetwide effects and do you think the +2 mining stations are worth building, since you lose -1 energy to maintenance too?
Early on I was struggling with the energy and food balance too, and it's difficult to adjust if you're faced with a sudden crisis for example because you're establishing a new colony and there's a drain on your energy credits. Later (=midgame) the issue seems to be more the influence points and keeping your factions happy. But generally I guess you are spot on, as long as you have some left and your food stockpile is full, no reason to sweat it and it boils down just to the minerals.
As for cookie cutter build, not yet obvious to me at least. Shield/anti-shield seems to add a consideration though the RPS model is generally weak for the game. Amoeba flagellum seem fairly strong for strike craft and I got them early on - generally some weapons deliver more raw DPS but others have like +200% effect on shields so I think it often boils down to what kind of HP your particular enemy has and what your existing fleet composition is. Also do ships upgrade for free? That would make changing weapon setups a no-brainer on ship upgrades.
In Stellaris, if you are not doom stacking you are doing it wrong. You must make a decisive engagement against the enemy fleet first, and when and if you win then you can split your fleet up a bit and start to go raiding.