In addition to my little speech on a particular race I am also sharing my thoughts on a lost art, that of making maps.
While people will spend months replacing every single ship and station within the game they won't give maps a thought either leaving the stock maps intact and untouched or worse, creating replacement maps with no idea what they are doing.
I think this is a shame because so much of the game depends on how you make a map, the placement of items has so much to do with how the game ends up being played.
Its rare now to see what I would define as good maps. People take a map that they think is good and try and copy it with no understanding of why it works, usually adding in resources left right and centre wrecking a very fine balance that somebody spent a lot of time working on.
Some people complain about symmetrical maps, but most maps are like this for a reason. Losing a game because someone knows the map and you don't is not fun. Nor is putting a huge stash of resources in the middle of the map, as whoever can hold it in the first few minutes of the game will win the game and who can do that usually depends on the random generator picking a race like the Borg. Other crimes against humanity include "closed" maps which have an asteroid belt running across the centre and a wormhole going to a centre section guarded by loads of TFC's and rift makers, this merely stops races like the federation and klingons from attacking the opposition where as the borg gleefully laugh and build a transwarp gate to skip going through the middle.
Other crimes include "realistic" maps which are laid out as the designer imagines a star system would be. This usually means in practice that one person has all the resources sitting next to them while as the other person languishes in the cold of space without the means to build anything. You also see maps with derelict bases or ships scattered around carelessly to create a re-crewing competition, the author forgetting that various races colony ships are different prices, so the borg and the romulans are sitting laughing.
If you make a map with all the resources you need (which is typically a class D planet and a couple of dilithium moons placed right by the base) you totally remove the need to expand or defend other places other than the main base and the base will become a fortress and when that fortress is defeated then you will be with it.
If, instead of placing a D class moon or two and a couple of infinite dil moons nearby you spread a lot of K class planets around the base and a few limited dilithium moons then the games changes instantly from a boring series of base assaults to a dominion wars style saga of clearing and holding individual planets and moons. Instead of being life and death struggles over one spot you have many smaller battles raging across the map.
The game is totally changed through doing this, becoming something scary called FUN. Unfortunately, nobody realises what you can do with maps, and the breed of modders that where once called mappers are now all but dead. (I believe the last mapper can be found
if youâ€™re interested in either playing some different maps or some mission maps.)
Experiment and try new ideas and you will be surprised how much you can change the game without changing a single unit.
In the coming months while Jolt and SSA pick a mod that was uploaded in the past month I will be picking a map, so its time to get some of your maps in!
Freyr's Fact Frenzy
I have been planning on writing a few articles on strategy for quite some while, in the hope of promoting discussion, debate and distribution of information and with the arrival of the new monthly news discussion I finally have somewhere where I can rant away.
Armada II has a great variety of tactics, which sadly most people don't see and look at the game as being quite devoid of tactical options. Its not, it is however greatly misunderstood.
Over the next few months I will be picking a race a month and revealing my thoughts on how its best to play them, something I am sure I will regret when people start using my own tricks on me!
First up is the newbies favourite, the Federation:-
The Federation is the most popular race for new players, because the federation are humans and the subject of all the Star Trek shows to date. Unfortunately, in A2 they are also very weak.
In fleet battles, they are seriously let down by the Galaxy class, as its expensive and weak compared to the other races. The only advanced ship the Galaxy can easily beat down is the Romulan Venator, and the Romulans have an arsenal of special weapons that easily negates the disadvantage they have with the Venators firepower.
For an illustration of the weakness of the galaxy, 3 Galaxys can't beat 2 Klingon battleships, never mind the Cardassian, Borg or Species 8472 ones.
Whilst the Sovereign is a powerful warship that makes up for the Galaxys problems due to the Corbomite Reflector, but its hugely expensive in crew, making it hard to deploy in meaningful numbers and its also hard to get up to that technology level in time to make use of it.
Therefore, tactics with the federation tend to revolve around "rushing" (thatâ€™s attacking the opponent before they have the chance to build a effective defence)
In smaller games (1v1, 2v2) your doing this to kill them with the defiants, where as in the larger games where serious fleet actions take place your aim should be to buy the time for you to build up a very large fleet of Galaxys or a fleet of Soverigns.
Fortunately, The Defiant class destroyer is the best destroyer in Armada II. With its anti-matter mines used as offensive weapons itâ€™s a potent first strike weapon and can be used against mining stations, starbases and even massive ships like the Fusion cube to great effect. (Mines target the nearest target to them, so going for a target like a starbase is easily done by moving from the top of the "Z" axis to the bottom and releasing mines when youâ€™re passing the starbase.)
When youâ€™re using defiants the idea is to do hit and run raids on lightly defended targets, which are usually the mining operations. Losing a metal mining platform can be a heavy blow early on (it prevents you from building either dilithium mines or an advanced yard) and its easily possible to kill someone through wiping their resources out.
Species 8472 (bugs) is especially vulnerable to this as their freighters cost a massive 390 Biomatter to produce. (as I know I have a few people frowning and diving for reference materials now I will point out that the freighter costs 350B, but you have to have an active embryo which costs 40B)
When you consider that a species battleship costs 650B you can see the amount of damage you can cause by wiping out freighters. Last week I played a game where I did one raid getting all the freighters which caused laughter from the person targeted- thinking he had gotten off lightly as his base hadn't taken any damage.
It took him more than half an hour to get back up and running again, because it takes 3 mining runs from a species miner to afford one freighter and I killed a whole load of them.
Now, assuming you have managed to build up a fleet of Sovereign class ships with the time you bought yourself the game won't end just because you managed to get them out of the shipyard, the main asset of the Sovereign is that its hard to destroy, thanks to the reflector. Don't sit around waiting for them to come to you, always be on the offensive. If youâ€™re anywhere that they can shoot at something other than your ships then youâ€™re doing something wrong. You can't defend with sovs, only attack. This is because they will just blow up your basic tech centre with the corbomite pod and your advantage will be lost as without the reflector the Sov is considerably weaker than the Galaxy.
What you can do is go and attack one of their planets, which will attract a fleet to defend it. Make sure your reflector is on AUTOMATIC and fight the fleet. Don't manually activate the reflector for the entire fleet under any circumstances! Sovereigns are very hard to kill with the reflector active, so most people will fire on each ship in turn to activate the reflector and then move onto the next ship, after they have finished attacking the last ship in the fleet the first one will be running out.
If they do this then you need to start manually controlling the reflectors, to keep them going, remember that youâ€™re fighting a winning battle while doing this as they aren't doing any damage to you and your fleet is probably getting a kill every couple of seconds. Once there fleet is gone then either steal the planet if you can keep it, or bomb it flat if you can't (by that, I mean keep firing on it until the civilian population reaches "0" and the planet is lifeless)
You should then attempt to blow up resources, technology centres and shipyards.
Remember to get Level 3 Shields when using the Sovereign. Scarily, lots of people still don't realise what the upgrade centre does. Itâ€™s a centre that increases the performance of your ships systems. Level 2 is an increase of about 30-50%, and Level 3 is a full 100% increase. Weapons fire TWICE as fast on level3, and that includes the mining beam on your freighters, making your miners mine twice as much.
When you get Level 3 Shields you will notice all your ships and stations drop to 50% shields, this is due to their max hit points rising. Superior technology can let you face off against far larger odds and win.
The only point where I wouldn't advise using the sovereign is against the borg, who will assimilate the reflector, put it on all their ships and then attack you with it. If faced with the borg you must stick with Galaxys, if faced with Fusion Cubes deploy a couple of fleets of defiants. 2 fleets worth of mines will kill a FC instantly without wolf 359 style losses which you WILL take if you send in 2 fleets of galaxys.
Ok, and after my little talk I do have one last thing to post up, which is my version of the manual.
The Federation Starfleetâ€™s ships described:-
It builds stuff and not many people realise the tractor beam actually does have a purpose. Wouldn't it be great if you could tow ships back to a shipyard for repairs? Well, you can.
Tractor the ship to the point where it would enter the repair dock and beam crew onboard and give orders to return to the shipyard for repairs. The ship will then enter the queue (even with disabled engines) and wait its turn. It will move forwards without the tractor beam so you can send the con ship somewhere else.
Dilithium/Latinum Mining Freighter
They mine dilithium to keep your shipyards busy. By mining latinum however they can be used defensively to great effect. Fill one with latinum and watch the explosion, even better put a couple of little ships like scouts or destroyer sized ships nearby when you do it to get an idea of the power of this blast.
"Venture" Class Scout
As a warship the scout is almost useless unless used in large swarms. The scout is useful because of its large sensor area and tachyon grid special weapon that allows it to detect cloaked ships.
"Sabre" Class Destroyer
The Sabre is of little practical use in fire fights. The Sabre falls short lacking both the firepower and shielding to do significant damage comparable with the other federation destroyer class, The "Defiant".
"Defiant" Class Destroyer
The Defiant is a sturdy warship superior to any other races destroyer class vessels and its antimatter mines give it a strong first strike advantage against even the largest targets. The defiant is the best small warship that the federation have, and one that you will encounter the most in game as it is widely used by federation players.
It colonises planets, not much to say.
"Iwo Jima" Class Assault Ship
Armed with a single pulse phaser, and fairly thin shields Assault Ships are not viable warships. There use comes from being the only warp capable vessel with a tractor beam, allowing it to quickly bring valuable salvage to your base for repairs. Dragging borg fusion cubes away from a fight when they are derelict is useful in my opinion.
"Akira" Class Cruiser
The Akira is good for defending outstations against attacks by smaller ships but it is an overall failure as a warship. Its cost in metal is greater than the Galaxy class yet it does not have the firepower to do damage to targets of size. Its shields and hull are weak enough to be destroyed in one volley from a starbase (despite its cost) which makes it unsuitable for starbase assaults.
"Intrepid" Class Cruiser
The Intrepid has some use as a cruiser, having no metal cost at all. If pitted against defiants the Intrepid can inflict heavier casualties than defiants Vs defiants making it usefull for defence against a Federation player in 1v1's
"Steamrunner" Class Cruiser
The Steamrunner's tricobalt torpedoes are all but useless. Although it is possible to attack from outside a stations firing range there will be warships warping in before you can do any serious damage. The Engine Disabler special is not really useful in fleet battles though you can use it to great effect near defences and black holes.
"Aegian" Class Frigate
A total failure as a warship, and its shield enhancing technology is to weak for practical use in combat. It is also a failure at repairing stations shields due to the amount of the shield energy restored. It would need many of these to be of any use, and that would require tying down the advanced yard for a prolonged time instead of building useful warships.
"Galaxy" Class Battleship
The Galaxy class battleship is the strongest offensive weapon the federation has to offer. The Galaxy does more damage than the Sovereign, though the Sovereigns corbomite reflector allows the Sovereign to stay in combat for longer. The Galaxy's ability to separate is useless, as the smaller pieces don't have the weaponry or the shielding to either survive or do any damage in fleet combat.
One word of warning, three Galaxys can't kill 2 Klingon Qeh'ral class battleships so either support them or go in with a huge advantage in numbers.
"Nebula" Class Science Ship
The Nebula is not a combat ship and it should never be used alone in combat. It has a useful array of technology that can be used to great effect. Its point defence phaser can save your ships from an incredible amount of damage in large scale battles, its shield dampening technology can render larger ships like the borg fusions cubes defenceless and in numbers the Gemini effect can be a real thorn in your opponents side. The Engineering team is good for quickly restoring stations that have taken severe damage and getting derelict ships up and running again.
"Sovereign" Class Battleship
When armed with the corbomite reflector the Sovereign is a real pain to fight. Its high crew count makes it harder to assimilate than other battleships and the corbomite reflector can reflect lots of damage which keeps your ships in the fight for longer, not to mention that the damage is being shot back at the person that fired it, meaning that after a few minutes of such abuse you will start seeing your opponent losing there ships to there own fire. Level 3 Shields are a must as some damage (namely 10%) leaks through the reflector.
Picture of The Month
Naturally, to finish off the bulletin, weâ€™ll be displaying the best three PoTDâ€™s from the month. There is only one rule: If there is a draw in the score, the picture with the MOST votes will win. There is unfortunately no other way to do it :( . So, in traditional, suspenseful way, in reverse order...
3rd place goes to...
SupaStarAsh - "Just Another Day"
â€“ 9.0 = 43 votes
2nd place goes to...
IKS Yo Mama â€“ "Empok Norâ€¦Looks Like No Ones Home?"
â€“ 9.0 = 49 votes
And 1st place, achieving the highest score in the month of July...is...
IKS Yo Mama, stealing the show with â€“ "Leaving Starbase 234 for the Badlands"
â€“ 9.0 = 80 votes
Unfortunately guys, that's all the content for this month completed :( Don't worry though. We'll be back next month with more content and just as much detail. Monthly Bulletin, signing out.