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Re: Retrograde from hell

From: "Oerjan Ohlson" <oerjan.ohlson@t...>
Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2000 21:01:43 +0200
Subject: Re: Retrograde from hell

Mikko Kurki-Suonio wrote:

>Interesting, I just had horror visions of the retrograde ship from
>and then Noam pulls something like that outta his hat...
>>Put it like this: my then-local opponents stopped using such tactics
>>about half a year after FB1 was published, and designs like the ones
>>Noam describes, because I consistently beat them with far more
>>"standardized" (FB1 published style) designs.
>Care to tell us how? Let's say "ultimate realism", floating edge
>Startup speed free within X, direction free, distance outside anyone's
>weapon range. The retro ship has MD8 and an all-arc class 6 for
>example, plus the usual trappings.

Why not go further still, say MD10 or more? <g> That does make it
harder still to beat with straight FB1 fleets, though of course
there'll be even less of them than of the MD8 ships.

>I'm genuinely interested, especially if it does not involve "lure him

Um... The basic goal of all tactics is to force the enemy to do
something he'd rather not. In this particular case he'd rather not move
closer, so what you seem to say is that you're genuinely interested in
the tactics I used, especially if they don't involve tactics? 
>You see, I don't buy the lure part. If you're betting on retrograde,
>say you are also willing to accept that engagements may be
>inconsequential draws until your opponent can be goaded into trying
>something stupid. 

"Something stupid"... like moving into his own weapon range? <g>

>(Yes, this is horribly boring, and you can often make HUMAN opponents
>make stupid mistakes out of boredom, but assume an unrelenting,
>coldly calculating, has-all-the-time-in-the-world, omniscient computer

Sorry, I've never played against a omniscient computer. I only play
against human players.
>Off the top of my head, I can see two ways it could go:
>In either case the retro-ship starts with maximum allowed velocity
>*away* from the opponents.

The only real reason for space battles (or wet-naval battles) is to
ensure that you can go wherever you want and stop the other guy from
doing the same. Destroying the enemy ships is only a means to this end,
after all. 

So, if the sniper player wants to stop me - or destroy the cargo I'm
escorting, or whatever - he needs to start the battle moving towards me
(unless the battle is set-up with me already within his weapon range,
but we don't set up games like that on the assumption that both sides
have detected one another quite some time previously). If he wants to
go somewhere and I want to stop him, I'll place myself between him and
his target (provided I can do so, but FT is a tactical game only - the
system-scale movements which put me there and set the scenario up
aren't part of the game) and he *still* needs to move in my general
direction to get past me. If I turn away from him, he'll need to chase
me instead; and unless the game started with his weapons already within
range of me he'll need an overtake velocity to do so. 

Now begins an interesting game of minds: when exactly will my escort
and/or fast cruisers turn back as hard as they can? If he manages to
pick the right turn to break off the chase he'll stay out of range (but
quite often outside his own range as well as mine); if he doesn't, I'll
suddenly range on him. In the sniper battles we fought, the snipers
generally took more damage from my few salvoes than I did from their
continous drizzle. 

There were several variations on this basic theme depending on the
exact forces used, of course. Eg., depending on just how many "extras"
the snipers had and which fleet I was flying, dropping missiles and/or
fighters into his path may also... disconcert them somewhat :-/ The
overall results were that I won most (IIRC about three out of four)
games against the long-range sniper fleets squadrons ("won" as in
"destroyed a larger value in points than I lost"), and my opponents got
tired of using gimmick designs that lost more than they won <shrug>

>Unfortunately, these tactics are often horribly boring no matter who
>wins in the end. Thus, IMHO, a game system would need to make it
>BLATANTLY obvious that they won't work.

That's always a problem with a game which wants to be generic, I'm
afraid. Quite often the solutions aren't blatantly obvious; when they
aren't you can only hope that the side most guilty of causing the
boredom loses more than it wins (since that tends to discourage people
from persisting with it). Fortunately that was the case in our sniper
battles :-/


Oerjan Ohlson

"Life is like a sewer.
  What you get out of it, depends on what you put into it."
- Hen3ry

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