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-   -   Gameplay tips & tricks (http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/showthread.php?t=21339)

Slick October 17th, 2004 02:45 PM

Gameplay tips & tricks
This thread was inspired by another thread:
where I learned something that probably everyone else knew except me even after my playing this game since it was released. So I decided to post some of my useful tips & tricks (a lot of which will be redundant if you read the FAQ) for SE4 gameplay. If others do the same then it's quite possible some of us may learn a trick to relieve a headache or two.

1) This one I learned from another user here on the forum. If you want to have a built-in reminder on a given planet when a build queue is done, such as you just finished building all your miner-II's (because they can be built in 1 turn) and now you want to upgade to miner-III's, you can do this. First create a dummy ship/unit of some kind. I like to use a small mine, but it doesn't matter. Just make sure you name it with your reminder as its name such as "*upgrade". Make sure you use a * as the first character (or other character which is alphabetized before the letter A). Now, each turn, review your construction queue and click the column header on the right. This will sort the list alphabetically by the names of the things under construction. Queues with the * as a starting character will be at the top of the list and you conveniently can see all your construction queues which need action. Just delete the dummy unit and issue the next order.

2) I kinda stumbled on this one by accident. I was frustrated that you couldn't add ships to a planet queue unless you had a spaceyard already built. Well you can. First add your ship to another planet's queue then save that queue. If you want to see the procedure for this, see the FAQ. Then you can add the spaceyard to your current planet followed by ships or bases using this technique. This will NOT allow you to actually build ships/bases without a spaceyard, but it sure saves time.

3) The "repeat orders" command can be very useful. I won't go into all the different ways to use it here but I'll cover 2. First for simultaneous games, you launch mines, sats, or fighters from planets automatically by using this command after the first launch. Second, you can automate collection of units. For example you can have every planet in a system making fighters, then using a small/medium transport, you can automate picking up the units from all the planets and dumping them at the largest planet. Then with a larger transport or carrier, you can stop off at the large planet to load full of fighters while it is on its way to the front lines.

3) At your training planets, make lots of fleets. Initially you should make as many 1-ship fleets as possible. That way if you neet to pump out a ship/fleet in a hurry, you can put it into one of these fleets for an instant 20% bonus. If the ship can wait there to be fully trained, it can get a 20% + 20% = 40% bonus. This may be a little cheezy, but you can even make 1-ship fleets with mothballed ships. The ship won't get experience but the dummy fleet will eventually max out. You can then make specialized super fast small ships to ferry these "fleets" out to your front lines if necessary.

4) Use the memo pad for keeping notes. Just right-click on the galaxy map in the lower right then left-click on a system to make notes. I use the system notes to keep track of system-wide things like if I have a satellite with anti-cloak sensors, or if I have a system-wide research computer, etc. For empire-wide notes, I use the scratchpad in my home system. Undocumented: you can insert a carriage-return in the scratch pad by using CTRL-M.

5) If I ever get another empire to surrender, how the heck do I make sure I adjusted all his planets? Easy. Bring up the colony report and first sort by Name, then click the Races tab on the right. You will see all the systems sorted in order and the races are shown. Easy to pick the newely acquired planets out.

6) How the heck do I capture more than one planet per turn in simultaneous games? Using your Capture Planet Fleet: "attack planet 1, load troops from planet 1, attack planet 2, load troops from planet 2, etc" for orders

7) I know that moving captured or different breathing population around is a pain, but how do I easily find the best planets to undome? Easy. Bring up the Colony report and click the "General" tab. Next sort by "Pic" which sorts by planet size, then sort again by "Atmosphere". Next click on the "Races" tab on the right. Now you have a list of planets sorted in increasing size by atmosphere and you can see what kind of race is on the planet. Concentrate on the largest planets first for undoming.

8) I am running a resource defecit but which construction queues should I shut down first? First check out which resource you are shortest in by using the empire status report. Then bring up the construction queue, click "usage" on the right then sort by the usage column. This will show the most usage planets first using the total per turn for each planet M+O+R. The highest using planets will be at the top.

9) What things will I produce on the next turn? Easy. Bring up the colony report, click on "construction" tab on the right. Next sort by the "time remaining" tab. scroll down to see all the things that only need .1 years to build.

10) I've got too much resources coming in each turn and all my spaceyards are already building something and I don't have enough storage. I don't want to lose the resources, so which planets have the most empty cargo room for building units? Bring up the colony report, click on the cargo tab on the right, then sort by "space". Sroll to bottom to see the least filled planets. BTW, build more spaceyards and/or storage!

11) Use Waypoints. If you only use 1 waypoint, make your homeworld waypoint 1. I usually transform my homeworld into a training center at some point in the game. It is very convenient to click on a ship and then hit CTRL-1 to send it to my homeworld for training. If I make another training world or fleet rally point, it is easy to use another waypoint for that one too. You are limited to 10 waypoints, but I have never needed all 10. You can also make spaceyards automatically send ships to a given waypoint. Also, rename your waypoints to give them descriptive titles such as "home", "defensive chokepoint 1", etc. I haven't tried this, but I believe that if you move a waypoint, all the ships which have orders to move to that waypoint will automatically go to the new location. This might be a good way to have a "rolling" fleet staging point.

That's 11 things that I find useful for now. I may add to this later.


Alneyan October 17th, 2004 03:10 PM

Re: Gameplay tips & tricks
All below does not take cheesiness into account, and merely states what is possible to do that does not sound so obvious (it does not include anything involving abusing allies or the like).

3') Use fighters for your fleet training needs. They travel on their own, do not need a SY, and so can be built at that useless one facility planet without wasting SY-time. Fighters also do not cost anything at all to maintain, unlike ships.

12) Drones can have strategies of their own, including not automatically ramming anything within range. If you like to use them, it might be a good idea to use decoy drones to soak up PDC fire (especially if you would like to do something different for once).

13) Most actions involving Stellar Manipulation can be done in the middle of the turn. For example, send your Warp Opener to another system, and order the vessel to open a wormhole there. Or put a Star Destroy over a star, order it to pull back for one sector, and then to come back to the star to destroy it, giving your fleet time to escape. That one may be quite obvious, but I have played for several months before being told about it.

14) When playing with a harsh ship limit, and/or having resource shortages, you might want to put vessels in your queues, and hold their construction one turn before completion. It will cut down your resource expenses will still allowing you to have backups under your hand. (The answer to your question Alarikf is: yes, the Polymer People has such reinforcements standing by)

15) Not exactly a trick, but something worth reminding. When using Resource Converters, never put the planet on Repeat Orders. Ever. Failure to do so will result in headaches, massive economical shortages, and general despair within your Empire.

16) Much like Slick's first suggestion, you can use dummy units to mark planets fully developped. Make a satellite, put it in the queues of all your developped planets, and put the queue on hold. This way, you can sort planets by construction queue, allowing you to see which planets are currently doing nothing.

17) Are you bothered with having people spy on your ship count? (Namely by checking the numbers after your designs) You might want to consider doing a very minor retrofit then, where the original vessel is "This is not a warship" and the updated one "This is still not a warship". Once your ten "This is not a warship" warships have been retrofitted, the next such ships will not take the numbers after 11, but will cycle back to 1. Someone too confident might actually believe you have fewer ships than in actuality, as after all your design name remained the same.

Fyron October 17th, 2004 03:12 PM

Re: Gameplay tips & tricks
18) You can upgrade a single facility at a time on a planet that has lots of the same facility. Find a planet with just one obselete facility built. Add the Upgrade Facility X item to the build queue. Click on Fill Queue, then Save the queue with an appropriate name by clicking on Add Type. Now, go to the previous planet. Use the Fill Queue button to add the single facility upgrade order. You can naturally have "Upgrade 2 X" or "Upgrade 3 X" fill queues by finding planets with 2 or 3 facilities to upgrade, respectively. Using this method, you can upgrade large Groups of facilities in small batches, thus allowing some to be upgraded immediately and begin functioning sooner than it would take for all to be upgraded at once.

19) You can use the hotkey ctrl + t to manually add a minefield marker to a sector, and ctrl + r to remove one. These can be used to mark certain sectors, such as damaging warp points, as no-fly zones. Your ships will avoid the sectors marked as minefields, trying to find a safer route.

20) Your exploration ships do not have to stop when entering an unexplored system. You can order them to "move to" a random sector in the system, such as the far side or center, after the "warp" order. The ship will merrily continue on it's way.

Slick October 17th, 2004 03:40 PM

Re: Gameplay tips & tricks
21) To give a bunch of ships in the same sector the "sentry" order, shift-click them all, then manually left click one of them and give it the "sentry" order. For some reason, the Sentry button doesn't light up when shift clicking multiple ships.

13') you can use this "stagger step" to time out lots of combinations. Stellar manipulation is a great one to practice with, but you can use your imagination to time out other complicated routines in a simultaneous game turn.

19') Strategically placing minefield markers can also be used to "funnel" ships to move over a Resupply Depot.


p.s. Fyron, for 18, I had thought many times about doing this, but I didn't think it would work. Thanks!

Atrocities October 17th, 2004 08:01 PM

Re: Gameplay tips & tricks
I made this a sticky for a bit. To give it a chance to draw in readers. Will unsticky it later.

Roanon October 17th, 2004 08:02 PM

Re: Gameplay tips & tricks
Hey Slick, you're giving away all my cool tricks! Soon I will not be able to win any game any more! http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/images/smilies/wink.gif

2) I do not have verified it yet, but I think I have noticed after the Last patch that ships in queues on a planet without shipyards are automatically cleared when the turn is executed.

6) Never could make attack / load troops work reliably. I always use attack, move one sector away, load troops from previous sector. This works always. I do not know why the load order is often ignored otherwise.

10) Too much income, too little spaceyards? Retrofit series are your friend! Roughly doubles your shipyard capacity. Save cost and time by training while retrofitting.

15) Always build at least one resource converter more than needed. Nothing more crippling than a conquered resource converter if it is your only one. One class III converter can only convert a maximum of 1,365,000 resources into 955,500 of a different type per turn. If you try to convert more, the orders will be queued into the next turn.

Fyron October 17th, 2004 08:05 PM

Re: Gameplay tips & tricks

Roanon said:
6) Never could make attack / load troops work reliably. I always use attack, move one sector away, load troops from previous sector. This works always. I do not know why the load order is often ignored otherwise.

Huh. I have never had a problem doing this. The only time a problem arises is if I have a ship survive with so much damage that it can't move much if at all, but that just stops the fleet entirely...

Tanus October 17th, 2004 11:37 PM

Re: Gameplay tips & tricks

Imperator Fyron said:

Roanon said:
6) Never could make attack / load troops work reliably. I always use attack, move one sector away, load troops from previous sector. This works always. I do not know why the load order is often ignored otherwise.

Huh. I have never had a problem doing this. The only time a problem arises is if I have a ship survive with so much damage that it can't move much if at all, but that just stops the fleet entirely...

I've also had this problem. If I tell ships to attack, then load troops, very often the ships will just move on without reloading the troops, and thereby glass the next planets. I also attack-move one sector-load troops from previous to make sure that it actually loads my troops

Fyron October 18th, 2004 12:24 AM

Re: Gameplay tips & tricks
Does this happen in sectors with multiple planets? I find that if I order the fleet to attack every planet in the sector, then one load troops order, it works fine. I don't think I have ever had a problem with my fleets not picking up the troops on the move. Is the ground combat requiring more than one combat? This isn't very likely in stock SE4, but could be an issue...

Roanon October 18th, 2004 02:24 AM

Re: Gameplay tips & tricks
I usually attack multiple planets first, because after the load order it might be that only 1 transport may be loaded with troops, and the fleet be able to capture only single planets. About 90% of the time, the load order didn't work unless preceeded by a sidestep move of one sector which I routinely do now.

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