Author Topic: Zhakarov vs. Random, giant map  (Read 994 times)

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Offline bvanevery

Zhakarov vs. Random, giant map
« on: January 10, 2017, 05:36:25 AM »
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  • I've been playing giant maps lately, as it's something I've not really done over the past 17 years.  Currently trying the 384x192 form factor.  That's exactly 9x the size of a Huge map.  Playing with no Unity pod scattering.  Fishing artifacts out of the ocean is absurdly profitable even on a Huge map.  On a Giant map, it's such a crutch that I need to get away from it.  Unfortunately it does make exploration deadly dull, when there's nothing out there to pick up.  I'm learning to automate ships to do the exploration for me, until they bump into another faction or whatnot.

    I always play SMACX with 7 random factions of the standard 14, including my own faction.  Unless I'm writing a story.  I've done some of that lately, but I'm not doing it this game.  I'm going to try sticking to actual gaming tactical stuff.  Pardon also, there aren't going to be any visuals for this.  I'm old school; we had newsgroups and we liked 'em!  Also, after having read many AARs here and elsewhere now, I have to say that screenshots usually water down the information and make things into a boring read.  I think the important questions to answer are, "How did this game basically go?  What is tactically noteworthy about this game?  Anything of particular interest?  How do you personally beat SMACX, compared to anyone else?"  I think I can answer those questions somewhat succinctly in text.  Feel free to ask about stuff if I'm not managing that.  Although of course if I put you to sleep, then it is what it is.   :danc:

    Technically this is not an AAR.  It's a During Action Report, or After Some Actions But Still During Others report, or however one wants to split hairs.  I'm writing this up as I go.

    I randomly got the University.  In other games with big maps, I've chosen Exploration to get all the pods out of the water as quickly as possible.  Also to get off what may be a tiny island as quickly as possible.  Even though I always select 30%..50% water worlds, the generator manages to come up with piles / much more water than that, quite a lot.  This game is no exception.  Average erosion, dense cloud cover.  Just wanted to work a prettier, greener world this time.  Average native life; my experience is abundant is crippling to AIs, so I don't do it.  Transcend.

    Good point, I'm on a nicely sized island.  Half of it is rainy, and there are some resource specials.  Can put a viable, even game winning civilization on this thing.  Wouldn't necessarily even have to leave, depending on my mood.  Drawback, the game decided I wasn't worthy of any supply pods at all.  Well, the game is probably right.  This is good land, I don't need any other advantages.

    I look at this land and say, hey, let's do a Discover focused opening game.  I'm the University, I should be able to get to Secrets Of The Human Brain first.  I don't strictly need Formers right away, although there are 2 repositories of minerals I'd really like to have them for.  To get some early secret projects going.  Still, I choose Discover and accept that I won't get Formers for a bit.

    What a decision!  Roze must have had really good land to start on.  She bangs out The Weather Paradigm and The Virtual World without even breaking a sweat.  I expand to 14 bases, none of whom have significant production because I didn't get Formers.  Adding insult to injury, she beats me to Secrets of the Human Brain.  In fact I never get Secrets of the Human Brain.  I get Doctrine: Flexibility before even getting Centauri Ecology!!  WTF??!  Finally, belatedly, I get my Formers.  She's well on the way to banging out The Human Genome project.  She knocked out The Merchant Exchange while she was at it.  I figure she's such a powerhouse this way, there's no point even trying to compete with her.  I can hope that she's near enough to conquer and take over those secret projects.  If not, I bet this game becomes a 2 superpower finish.

    This has gotta be the most undirectedresearch I've experienced in quite some time.  As a booby prize - I swear, I could almost anticipate this from the ether - I get Doctrine:Loyalty.  I've only got my research set to Discover, mind you.  Whatever.  It's not useless, I'll take it.  I build it in the middle of the island, which is now my capitol for efficiency purposes.  I don't expect any competition for it, and it will be done in 23 turns max.  Sooner with some cash.

    Earlier on I sent out 2 skimship probe teams, so that I wouldn't be paying ongoing costs for minerals as they trapse slowly around the giant world.  One of 'em was stupid enough to blunder directly into sea fungus, and that worried me, that automation wasn't going to be such a hot thing.  But on such a big map, with no actual rewards in the vast majority of the empty space, I didn't see much choice.  Fire and forget.  Their sense of covering territory is terrible and they're heading towards exactly the same location.  "Alpha Basin".  Is the AI cheating, is this the base of another faction?  Is it the name of a landmark?  Who knows.  They're both tracing this nice arc to somewhere.  Well, when they finally meet another faction, if it is hostile, at least I may be able to steal and infiltrate in one go.

    I've run into Zhakarov's "4 citizens gives a drone" problem.  I've had to start building Hologram Theaters.  That chafes.  Bases are defended by green scouts, some disciplined from having beat on mindworms early on.  Interior landlocked bases have produced professional military rovers from command centers.  Or they were, until I had to start building Hologram Theaters.  That chafes.  I have a cloud of Formers working the island and don't need to produce any more.  21 to be exact, for 14 bases.  Looks right to me.  Peeved that they do their work more slowly than other recent games I've played, since I didn't get The Weather Paradigm.

    It can't be all bad though.  As of 2204 the planetary radio chatter says I'm the strongest faction!
    Data Angels are a close 2nd.
    Cybernetic Consciousness is 3rd, not so far behind.  They were doing better earlier.
    Believers are a weak 4th.  They've been weak.  Must have a bad start as Believers can spread.
    Cult of Planet is even weaker 5th.  Presume even worse start.
    Morgan is a moribund 6th.  Must be on a tiny non-viable island.
    Spartans are all but dead at 7th.  Must be on a 1 square island.  I've seen the map generator do that a lot recently.

    So it's likely a 3 player game.  We'll see if I can find Roze and kick her ass.  Really obnoxious that she left me in the dust, when I had perfectly good minerals to do those secret projects.  Wonder if she's sitting on The Monsoon Jungle?  On smaller maps, that's the usual pattern with a dominant AI.  On a map this big, factions might never even find The Monsoon Jungle.

    Much of my opening Terraformer strategy is about planting forests on flat ground, BTW.  I love me my minerals!  Did this on top of 2 minerals and 1 nutrient in fact, all on flat ground.  Those yield 1-4-1 and 3-2-1 respectively, better than I'd get with other methods. 

    1 Sea Former for each base that's got a resource special in the water, set CTRL-SHIFT-A to automate the home base only.  The formers, I am guiding totally by hand.  I pretty much always do that, these big maps are builder game exercises to me.  I've been known to do the sea formers totally by hand too, but recently I've gotten tired of it.  When I do, I tend to make only tidal harnesses, no mineral improvements.  That way, I only buy thermocline transducer later on, and get maximum benefit for less city development cost.  I think minerals aren't hard to obtain in the scheme of things.  There's always supply crawlers if you really care.  Or later on, Nessus Mining Stations + The Cloudbase Academy.

    I'm soon launching a 2nd, much larger wave of automated skimship probe teams. 

    Hope this game isn't about sitting around waiting to win.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: Zhakarov vs. Random, giant map
    « Reply #1 on: January 10, 2017, 06:38:23 AM »
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  • The search coverage of my automated skimship probe teams is piss poor.  Some are getting hung up on terrain indentations.  One gets killed by an isle of the deep when I manually take control, trying to rectify that.  They follow each other to exactly the same destinations, and are pathologically moving westwards when I want to see what's in an even radius from me.  They seem to be cheating, heading towards named destinations that I wouldn't know about.  Some just flip back and forth uselessly, maybe at a path finding seam.  This is totally unacceptable.  I take manual control of most of them.  They're going to have to get farther from my homeland, so that they stop stepping all over each other.  Tedious but it is what it is.  I will have to stop making them, as I don't want to push lots of them around manually.  Outsourcing sucks.  If ya want it done right....

    My northernmost base keeps getting affected by Data Angel weather pattern changes.  Is she really that nearby, to be affecting my climate with her Weather Paradigm stuff?  Or does the game have stupid rules about affecting weather, even at very long distances?  No way to know yet.

    I build my 15th base, fully covering my land.  I needed to remove some fungus to position that last base.

    2214.  Roze and I are dead even on the graph.  Consciousness has definitely fallen to 3rd.  Game says I'm strongest at tech, so perhaps I won't have to worry about Aki's research capabilities.  Hey, I get free network nodes and she doesn't.  Plus I've got a lot of 'em, in a very efficient island arrangement.  Maybe I'll get ahead of everybody soon and bang out all the secret projects.

    Miriam and Cha Dawn are tied for 4th place.  Ticker says Miriam has got the most military.  Wonder if she's doing that "vapor locked" piles of crappy units in her cities thing.  Morgan and Santiago are tied for dead.

    I've got buckets of forests on flat ground, as many as I need.  I've placed most of the sensor arrays I could need.  I'm starting to put solar collectors on rolling, rainy squares.  Many of those have rivers which is why I didn't worry about it earlier.  I've removed fungus on more valuable land, such as rolling, rainy.

    Once I get the "nice land" finished I might set the formers on auto-pilot.  If I had The Weather Paradigm like usual, I'd have more scope for artistry and fine tuning.  Lacking that, getting the basics squared away is probably all that matters.  I won't have Ecological Engineering and Advanced Ecological Engineering any time soon.

    I could go Democratic and Planned, but I don't particularly want the loss of support.  I'm still building Hologram Theaters to keep people happy, and I haven't finished tilling the soil at all of my bases.  I don't think a massive growth spurt would help me right now.  It would annoy or hurt me.  It could get The Command Nexus done faster, but I have no competition for that.  So for now I remain a simple society.

    I should probably research Build soon.  But I insist on getting Secrets of the Human Brain before changing my priorities.  I had Planetary Networks from game start.  After those 2, it takes awhile for Discover to be worth much.  So, then I will add Build.  I don't need to Conquer.  Haven't found an enemy yet.  Nonplussed about Explore.  I'm anticipating a Discover-Build driven civ.  I've totally got the island for it, it's perfect.  Outclass everyone on research.  Might even forego the usual maritime invasions.  Just wait until Space Elevator and drop from orbit to murder Roze.

    But let's see what's around me first.  Like, what if I need to knock off The Believers before they can recover?

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: Zhakarov vs. Random, giant map
    « Reply #2 on: January 10, 2017, 07:16:41 AM »
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  • 2221.  Just after that last post, I got my Brain.  Started on Build.  Also started automating formers at home bases, 1 per base.  Leaving the extras on manual.  Probably will work my capitol with them.  Command Nexus nearly done.  Almost all cities garrisoned with 2 units, in case of mindworms showing up.

    Cha Dawn has colonized a smaller island right next door to me.  2 cities on it.  I made peace with her because she's pathetic.  I traded Doctrine : Mobility for her world map.  She started on a small island to the east.  It has 5 cities on it.  I've infiltrated her with one of my numerous skimship probe teams.  Her techs are boring.  I could conquer her at any time.  There is no need, she's free lunch.  Not real competition.  Within my kill radius, so to speak.

    As she's tied with Miriam for 4th, this calibrates Miriam's level of pathetic-ness.  How the heck does she have the best military?  Ok, I realize I've only made rovers and scouts, but I do have 15 bases.  Cha Dawn has 7.  2 are not centralized, 1 doesn't have infrastructure yet.  I'm basically double her size, without having done any social engineering.

    Someday I'll declare Free Market and she'll throw a fit.   ;lol  I don't see a lot of point in being Green on a giant map with no supply pods.

    Hm I said "she".  It might be a "he".  Lotta Boy George going on with that one.  I've always assumed it was the bastard love child of Lady Deirdre and Chairman Yang.  A quickie before bailing out of the Unity?

    Ending skimship probe team production.   Starting on Children's Creches, to have something to do.  Will probably do a raft of sea formers after that.

    Tried to put one of the effin' skimship probe teams back on auto pilot.  "You're going the wrong @#$! way dude!  Black's that way!!"  <SIGH>  I overproduced these things.  Now they're just a drag.  I will remember that they're no good, next game.

    !@##! game keeps crashing when I right click and drag to move my units around.  I'm playing on a laptop with a touchpad, no proper numeric keypad like in the old days.  So the click 'n' drag is an essential operation, much of the time.  I didn't have any problem on 256x256 maps.  I wonder if it's due to 384x192 maps.  Approximately same number of tiles, but just slightly more tiles, and the dimensions are different.  Who knows.  Maybe game doesn't like multiples of 3.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: Zhakarov vs. Random, giant map
    « Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 07:44:14 AM »
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  • 2225.  That "island" that Cha Dawn is on next to me, might be the extremity of a supercontinent.  Sending a transport and probe team over to check it out.  I might be Great Britain.  If Roze is on this supercontinent somewhere it would explain a lot.

    If this is a supercontinent, I will have the most useless flotilla of probe teams ever.  I could throw them at Cha Dawn's mindworms...

    "You're on punishment duty!"

    I could wait for someone to show up, then capture their ships.  But they never will.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: Zhakarov vs. Random, giant map
    « Reply #4 on: January 10, 2017, 08:01:04 AM »
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  • 2227.  Earliest released skimship probe team makes contact with Aki Zeta 5, far to the west by northwest.  Halfway around the globe really.  One ship and one sea colony pod, haven't seen a city yet.  She's Solicitous, but fears my power and won't sign a Treaty.  Won't trade techs.  I told her about Cha Dawn.  She says she doesn't know Roze.

    Automation is definitely cheating.  My ship started moving towards a Believer base, He Walked On Water.  I've not been there at all.  Yet now I know its exact coordinates.  Not sure how I feel about this exploit.  Exploration on this map is definitely a pain, so maybe I'd be justified in using it.  Maybe this is how the AI makes those "long tracks" on the map with, say, a slow moving transport.  In all those other games I've played.  It would explain a lot.  AI just cheats, decides that it knows where bases are, then go contacts them.

    Think I'll tool around in the area, then cash in my probe team for infiltration.  Eh, she built the sea base.  I'm bored, I just cashed.  She's got Field Modulation.  Not impressed.

    !@#$@!# right click-drag bug is really getting old.  Give me a reason to quit.  I'll say the bug won.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: Zhakarov vs. Random, giant map
    « Reply #5 on: January 10, 2017, 08:46:16 AM »
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  • 2244.  My economy is tanking.  My interior cities were making probe teams for lack of anything better to do.  Now they are stockpiling energy.  I'm starting to halt sea former production and stockpile energy on the coast as well.  I've got Industrial Base.  Industrial Economics has eluded me so far, and nobody I've met has it either.

    Just met Miriam.  !@#$#$ automated probe team, I think it got sent back from her territorial waters, all the way to my home base.  That is really misfeatured and stupid.  Especially if skimship probe teams are cheating and heading straight for enemy naval bases.  So that they can get sent home, like lemmings, doing little good.  Anyways Miriam didn't have any tech and predictably crabbed at me.  Blow it.

    At least I think I understand the right-click-drag bug now.  If I get a red circle with a slash through it, it means something is wrong.  If I release the mouse with that red circle, the game is gonna die.  So, red circle is the kiss of death.  Workaround is to put the mouse back over my unit, so that I get the yellow direction arrow.  Then release.

    Several cities are size 6 with unhappy drones.  Switching to 40-20-40 economy.  Operating at -4 energy per turn.  36 energy reserve.  Can't just grab pods to get more energy.  Could hunt mindworms I suppose, but doubt I will.  Once a few more bases go offline to stockpile energy, I should be stable.

    4 AM.  Timestamps on these posts indicate I've probably been playing for 3.5 hours.  Will probably save this and go to bed soon.

    Where the hell did my 2 land probe teams go??  This automation is s**t.  They probably summarily killed themselves when I wasn't looking.  Oh well.

    Formers are all automated now.  Got old pushing them around.  I did the most important stuff manually.  I hope they don't undo my work!!

    2250.  Polymorphic Software bloody hell!  Need energy banks.  Well at least my economy is positive, with all this stockpiling.  +24 credits.  I don't actually need anything so whatever.  Just sitting around waiting for a decent tech.  Nobody else has got one.  Skimship probe teams clump up some places.  I hate that.

    2253.  Roze begins Planetary Transit System.  Bastard!  That puts her on track to kick my ass for awhile.  Nothing I can do about it.  I don't even know where she is.

    Finally get a skimship probe team to infiltrate Miriam.  That cagey @#$! knows where Morgan is!  Didn't manage to dig that out of her during negotiations.  And now she won't talk to me.  War with Miriam would be more tedious than waiting around to find out where Morgan is some other way.  Since he's one of the moribund factions, he may not even have Industrial Economics anyways.

    « Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 09:17:06 AM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: Zhakarov vs. Random, giant map
    « Reply #6 on: January 10, 2017, 09:50:43 AM »
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  • 2258.  First city hits size 7 and has drone riot.  Try sliding economy around, have to do 30-40-30 to stabilize it.  That's expensive, especially to my research.  Social engineering choices seem to indicate that Police State might actually make me more cash than the simple society I'm currently doing.  Despite the -2 efficiency.  This is a gigantic map and my civ is well centralized.  It's quite possible that due to the map square calculation, with 15 cities I won't suffer any bureaucracy at all.  My cities may also be close enough not to suffer much loss of efficiency due to distance.  Going for it.

    Fallout will be eventual war with Miriam and Roze.  Well, with Miriam it's almost inevitable anyways, as I cannot be Fundamentalist and wouldn't want to be.  If the tables were turned, she can't be Knowledgeable.  AI Zhakarov hates anyone Wealthy or Powerful.  You really have to go through contortions, for these 2 not to go to war.   Doesn't matter anyways.  She's weak and it'll take awhile for her ships, if any, to get to me.  Even if I go Free Market later, sinking them upon their arrival would be quite sufficient. 

    War could easily happen with Roze just because I'm the biggest threat.  Doesn't matter what my politics are.

    I'm realizing that having a Governor election could take forever if someone doesn't research Centauri Empathy.  Nevertheless I'm going to stick to my Discover-Build guns for now.

    Went Police State.  Changed my budget to 50-0-50.  Everyone is now working on their 3rd military unit, a Trance Synthmetal Garrison.  Now I'm making -14 credits/year again.  But that's ok, as I've got 302 credits now, from all that stockpiling.  I'll take bases offline once I make the garrisons.  I like having my research set higher.  Breakthroughs every 12 years.  Pretty sure that's slightly better than before.

    Yeah, flogging the drones is gonna be grand.  I'm an intellectual Chairman Yang.

    Survey of cities shows that waste is 0, 1, or 2 energy in my cities.  Not a big deal at all.  I did have Children's Creches everywhere already.

    So I guess I could have done Police State eons ago.  Just didn't think of it.  On smaller maps, that -2 penalty really puts you in a bad way fast.  This is a different world.  My empire is probably considered small and compact for a map this size.  Or I could have gone Planned at the beginning of the game with no real consequence.  Oh well.

    Formers are starting to de-automate.  I'm sending them to farm the rainy squares now, in anticipation of getting Gene Splicing later.  They won't automatically farm those in anticipation.

    2260.  Aki starts working on The Citizen's Defense Force.  As I'm not researching Explore techs, I doubt I'll catch her.  Starting to build Perimeter Defenses as I have nothing else to build.  Will stockpile energy later.

    2263.  Surprisingly, Aki trades Intellectual Integrity to me for Optical Computers.  While still working on The Citizen's Defense Force.  Maybe she's confident in completing it quickly.  Or the opposite, thinks she'll never complete it.  She still would not trade for Field Modulation and the energy credit price she's been asking on that is exorbitant. 

    Meanwhile, Roze finished The Planetary Transit System.  She's a cranker.

    2269.  Roze begins Planetary Energy Grid.  My prediction about her kicking my ass is coming true.  No sign of her.  We're very far apart.
    « Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 10:29:21 AM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: Zhakarov vs. Random, giant map
    « Reply #7 on: January 10, 2017, 10:57:33 AM »
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  • 2276.  I discover Adaptive Doctrine.  Aki is perfectly happy to trade her Field Modulation for that.  I have nothing to build because I can't get either energy banks or Gene Splicing.  So I'm making buckets of probe teams.  At this rate I will never need The Hunter Seeker Algorithm, if I stay turtled up at home that is.  My formers are running out of tiles to work on.  I have plenty of underpopulated cities that aren't growing.  I had thought to build colony pods and send them to the underpopulated cities.  On the other hand maybe I should drop the Police State, make 2x police units, and switch to Planned to bring all cities up to 7 population.  Discoveries are taking 15 years.  This is a drag.

    I think there may be a bug where my probe teams are just vanishing from existence when I try to automate them.  Yep, they just keep vanishing when I hit SHIFT-A.  That kinda sucks, even if I really didn't like pushing them around.
    « Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 11:17:07 AM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: Zhakarov vs. Random, giant map
    « Reply #8 on: January 10, 2017, 11:27:50 AM »
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  • You know, it's 6:15 AM, and I don't like this game.  I'm quitting.  It had some major mistakes in it.  Some I should have realized, others just gratuitous.

    • I should have researched Explore or Build at the beginning, to make sure I got Formers immediately.  That really really hurt me, getting them late.  Can't believe I got ships before formers, I've never seen that happen before.
    • I should have used Planned economy immediately, on a map of this size.  No downside.  Wait to see actual bureaucracy and waste before worrying about whether it's a problem.
    • I should not have built so many skimship probe teams.  Pushing around 4 manually would have been enough.  The automation sucks too hard and is buggy.  Units disappear.
    • Maybe I should play on a somewhat smaller gigantic map.  384x192 may not be stable.  Might have been causing the bugs.
    • Maybe should have restarted because several factions had stillborn start positions.  Wonder if slightly smaller map would help that.  Wonder if I'd just be restarting games an awful lot and there's nothing I can do really.

    I probably put 8 hours into this game.  Minus the time I spent writing, so maybe 6 hours.  Although mildly educational, in the "jogging my memory" sense, I think this was more of a waste of time than not.  Better luck next time.  If you read this AAR, I hope you've learned something about stillborn games on big maps.

    Oh BTW the game said I was winning "overall".  Next 2 factions very close behind.  Roze building all those secret projects before I could even touch 'em, does not feel like winning.  Feels like being played for chump on a giant map.


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