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The Killing Floor Strategy Guide

Author Unknown

About TKF
The Killing Floor, 1997, by Dale Pope is an addon to VGA Planets (using host version 3.22.015 and up, or Phost 3) that is designed to do only one thing: To resolve combat in VGAP using fleet battles; rather than the single ship combat that we all know and despise.

TKF changes totally the way that one must look at general strategy, and more importantly, battle tactics. It makes the most fundamental changes to almost every aspect of the game: ship building, combat, economic expansion, diplomacy, ship trading... the list goes on. Get the Killing Floor viewer or the host addon at the TKF home page; or view the documentation directly. Host, Viewer. TKF ship bitmaps and the TKF home page are by B A N E, and are automatically installed with KFVIEW.

It is the most waited for, and most revolutionary addon yet, and the only one that I feel deserves its own web page detailing just how important it is. :). Perhaps the most... vital part of it is, it will prepare us, in many ways, for the manner of combat in VGA Planets 4.0. People who learn how to use fleet battle now will be in a better position to win games early in 4.0, and gain that edge on other people.

General Race Strategy under TKF
Note that I will be updating specific race strategies as I play them, or if someone who has played them submits an entry.

Under TKF, the smaller ships in a game are given more emphasis. Since they can attack en masse they can simply overwhelm anything in their path; ie, 3-4 Patriots (8 beams, 24 fighter bays, 120 fighters) can take out any individual ship, including the positively monstrous Federation heavy carriers (when they get them).

The biggest individual general change to game strategy is simply this:
One of the base principles of war set out by Sun Tzu was to outnumber your enemy at the point of contact; TKF makes this worthwhile, where VCR could not. If you can concentrate your firepower, when the enemy must divide his, you will win every time. Under the old VCR program, concentration of forces was far less important, since the point of contact was limited to ONE SHIP fighting. It doesn't matter if you have a fleet of Biocides orbiting the planet; if the frieghter goes in first, it goes in first. Sure, you can play around with battle order, but that hides the most basic flaw of VGA Planets, that of shoddy combat. Since the point of contact is limited to ONE SHIP, a single really big ship under VCR can in some situations take any size fleet of weaker ships, limited only (argh) by its ordinance.

So, under TKF, general strategy is made simpler. Less mind-numbing. Far more intuitive, the way that combat with VGAP was always really meant to be. We just have to learn how to think slightly differently, think a little bit against the way that we've always had to with VCR installed. For newbies, this will be easy, but for people who've lived and breathed single ship combat for years, it could prove difficult.Using TKF requires a fundamental difference in the way that we approach combat using VGAP, the impact is especially felt in the mid and end games... and if you haven't prepared for it...

The roles of fighters and torpedoes are different now. Fighters are best used when the enemy doesn't have them, and the best defence for a fighter, is more fighters.

Try to avoid combat, obviously. As Sun Tzu put it and Picard is fond of quoting, "The acme of skill is to subdue your enemy without fighting." The best combat is one that does not take place; try to negotiate to get what you want, and THEN fight if you can't achieve your objectives any other way. And, as Garreck put it once, "Don't let your morals get in the way of your work." Fight ruthlessly, relentlessly, never miss an opportunity. The reason for avoiding combat is that no one ever comes out of VGA Planets combat stronger than when you left. You may come out in a stronger strategic position, but your ships will always be the worse off for it. If you can accomplish your goals with the minimal loss of ships, you can save them for when you really need it.

General rules of thumb:

  • Travis Schneider: Forget everything you know about the racial pecking order. There is no "big 3" club anymore - the klingons and romulans with their cheap ship designs can now compete with the traditional heavy hitting races on equal footing.
    If all things are equal, the 3 dark wings that can be built with the same minerals and cash as one death star, even without cloaking intercept - the 3 dark wings will win every time. In a low-mineral universe, the smaller races havean even easier time of getting the upper hand.
  • Concentrate forces at the point of contact as much as possible. It doesn't matter how large the enemy fleet is, if he must divide, while you can concentrate and wipe out a chunk at a time, you WILL win every time. For instance, in a test game playing the Crystals, I split a fleet of Emeralds and Rubies to lay multiple mines around a major world; and then after a few turns, moved in 3 Rubies, 3 Emeralds, and two captured (but very weak) Trexes to hit it all at once. Lost only one Ruby to a major starbase. So, concentrating your forces not only allows you to win decisively, it allows you to minimise your losses. Try doing THAT with VCR.
  • Convoys of frieghters are that much less vulnerable to standard combat, you can send them in groups with a few guardian ships, and feel safe doing so. For real defense, use armed frieghters.
  • Fleets should be assembled with a specific goal in mind, such as taking starbases, and send it out. Such a fleet might use several small ships with good firepower in tubes or fighters to provide fighter cover and deflect firepower from the heavies, combined with a couple of heavy carriers or fleet of cruisers to do the real damage.
  • Don't tick off the Birdmen.

Leave the Borg alone until turn 50; they are totally harmless and cannot bother you... your time is better spent developing your own economy.

Federation
The Federation benefits quite a bit from fleet combat; they have an excellent shiplist composed of medium and heavy-medium, multipurpose ships that complement each other very nicely in combat.

Any Federation player has cursed VCR's interface because of its limited support for fleet battles; the fact is, the Solar Federation is a fleet race; anything that makes that more important in combat will inevitably help them out. Federation ships simply are not meant for combat, they are ships that are designed to fulfill many purposes, according to the Star Trek universe. It is because of that that they work very well together.

A major Federation advantage under TKF is that during combat, most races will lose out their weapons as they get damaged; i.e., if you have 10 beams to start with, each 10% damage you lose (15 for the Lizards) will knock out one of them. Not so for the Feds! This is their single greatest tactical advantage. Running some sims, we see an Anni and a Nova on VCR, alternating sides, Anni wins about 60% of the time with 90some damage, while when the Nova wins, it alternates 92-96-98% damage. The major limiting factor here is likely the 200tw difference in shield strength favoring the Anni. Under TKF however, when the torps start to impact on the hull, the Anni starts to lose its firing capacity! When the Nova hits 60% damage, the Anni is around 80%, meaning it can only fire two torps each round, while the Nova is still able to lock and load all of its weapons. Essentially, Federation now wins 100% of the time against an identical ship, even with a minor disadvantage at the start, and gets away scot-free with 70% or so damage in Nova vs. Anni. Just keep in mind that the "Scotty" bonus, long laughed at by enemies of the Federation, is now worth something, something very nice indeed.

Another major federation advantage is that of the fighter bay bonus on carriers; Federation carriers get a +3 advantage over all the other races. Gorbie gets 13 bays in Federation hands, for instance. Used properly, this can be a decisive advantage. Not only does Federation not take battle damage to weapons, they get that bonus. So get that carrier, they can be useful, especially if you are fighting a carrier race, you will need them to quickly establish air superiority over enemy carriers. Even the Romulan Red Wing Carrier, a fairly minor carrier when most races have them, can be a great weapon in Federation hands. Decent mass, 60 fighters, and 5 fighter bays make it a nasty ship to drop out of cloak in a surprise attack in combination with a few friends. Several of them dropping out of cloak are even less fun.

Lizard:
The Lizards really do get a boost from TKF, due mostly to their cloaking ability and the availability of cheap battlewagons. A typical invasion by the Lizards, with fleet combat installed, might consist of a vanguard of small cloaking ships (Reptiles?) to wipe out frieghters and lightly populated planets, a second wave of LCCs to take out the more heavily populated planets and/or lightly defended starbases, followed by fleets of Trexes to take out ships and the really heavily defended starbases.

Under VCR, a lizard ship over 100% damage had no weapons at all; if they started combat with 100%, they were nothing more than a very expensive frieghter. This was a bug, plain and simple, in the game. The Lizards are described to be a very tough race, and can be very fearsome in the correct hands. Their ability to take 150% damage is a decent advantage over the other races, meaning that in any given equal combat, the Lizards will win first.

As a cloaking race, the LCCs can, in emergencies, group to form deadly strike forces to take out key military targets that can't wait for the third wave. 10 LCC's coming at ya... 40 beams, 20 torp tubes will take out all but the most.. shall we say recalcitrant of warships, and the ability to cloak intercept means that they can direct their firepower to an extent that is more than adequate to the task; and especially effective against the fighter races. 10 LCCs equipped with Blasters can wipe out 80 fighters on their first volley of beams, and 40 with each consecutive volley, not counting the occasional torpedo hitting a fighter battle group (mark 4 torps and up will destroy three fighters each).

The T-Rex, as a cheap battleship, can usually be created by the keen Lizard player in large numbers. Under single ship combat, you would usually spend several T-Rexes to destroy the larger carriers; now, in swarms that only the Lizard with their superior economy can dish out, you will not only be more successful, but also minimize your losses to a great extent.

Be seeing you on the floor...

Birdmen:
The Birds get a great boost from TKF, as do all cloaking, relatively weak races, mainly from the "Concentration of Firepower" principle. The Birdmen have the best, and most powerful cloaking battlewagons available, and combined with cloak intercept, are a race to truly be feared. For instance, in the standard Borg 2 Bios & an anni in the mid game, the Birds can easily take no damage by cloak intercepting the Bios with teams of Darkwings, and then work over the Anni after cloak intercept phase is over. Basically, the Birds have far more options during combat than any other race due to the unique combo of powerful and cloaking ships.

The Resolute is an excellent ship to use with fleet combat; it is the primary component of a Romulan fleet, and fills a place that even the Darkwing cannot. 7 beams and 3 torps, combined with a very, very large fuel tank make it a ship to be feared in standard combat; but in fleets, this ship is no less than frightening. It can cloak intercept ships and direct firepower to an extent that, when combined with the heavy firepower of the Darkwings backing them up, could make the Romulan enemy look somewhere else for a fight, as well as having a fuel tank that will take it pretty well anywhere in enemy territory. Advance cloak is just the icing on the cake; it can sit and wait for an ideal target, or await fuel/torpedo resupply.

The Darkwing is a very very very nice ship, especially under TKF. It is a cloaking battleship. It can cloak intercept. It can fight, in teams, ships that really should not be fought against in teams. Two or three Darkwings can fight very well, providing they only have to fight one ship, and cloak intercept can do just that. Set two Darkwings to intercept that Nova, and watch it go boom, and then the Darkwings can take the support ships with little trouble. This is a very dangerous ship when you have fleet combat available; use it wisely, and build lots of them. Its only crippling factor is the small fuel tank; but this can be made up for somewhat with a Resolute escort; no other Bird cloaker has a larger fuel tank.

- did I mention Red Wind's?? Never seen them used yet? Not surprising in VCR, but now they form the fighter escort for your cloaked DW's - very, very useful! And the Fed's will probably pay a bit to get hold of them too, as will the other cloaking races!
- cloaked intercepts now let cloakers pick exactly which ships to fight against, and with which of their own - 2 Bio's and an Annie coming at ya

-Mike Campbell

This hadn't occurred to me; I find this to be a very interesting concept to deal with. The Red Wind Carrier is usually mincemeat to any decent ship; after all, it has an eye popping 85 fuel holds, and 60 cargo holds, and a pathetic 2 fighter bays, you would be hard pressed to think of a practical use for this ship that could not be fulfilled much better by a Resolute or even a Swift. With fleet combat, it could probably have its role as fighter support for a fleet... that is, cloaking fighter support for a fleet. If you have an allied fighter race, it would have its role primarily as a resupply carrier, getting new fighters to the attack force quietly and quickly. The Birds can use it to quietly equip advance starbases if they need to. Those purposes aside, it makes a good ship trade to the Federation, as they get three extra bays out of the deal, and you could get, perhaps, a real fighter carrier, or terraformers, or some cash. Otherwise, the Feds have little to offer you. :).

Fascist:
The Fascists, as a cloaking race with an astounding array of versatile ships, pull quite a nice advantage out of TKF; I really enjoy playing this race as they take a lot of skill and, quite frankly, chutzpah to play and play well. They have an 8:1 ground attack ratio, cloakers, a great high-medium torp ship, Glory Devices... the list goes on. Their biggest disadvantage used to be their total lack of ability to take out large carriers and torp ships with minimal damage; now, they can! The phrase "Coupla GD's followed by a fleet of Vickys" actually means something, using TKF.

The Fascists benefit a lot from having such a versatile fleet; in a combat situation, they have options galore. A fleet of D7 Coldpains could be well used to cloak intercept some of the ships in the enemy fleet and tip the balance of combat in your favor. In combat, little can match a well conceived Klingon fleet; Glory Devices can hit the entire enemy fleet, followed by cloak intercept ships to take out key ships, followed by a (planet excluded) mass attack by all ships on all defending ships, followed by the final wipe of the starbase.

When TKF is installed, the fourth combat phase (If one ATT/NUK immune ship is present, the planet is excluded from combat) allow a decisive use of the Pillage mission in combat. For instance, if you wanted to take out the fleet around a starbase before attacking the starbase itself, set one of your ships to Pillage. If even one of your ships are set to Pillage, it will trigger that rule in TKF combat; all of their ships will fight all of your ships, excluding the planet... and if you win that combat, you get to fight the planet itself with all remaining non-NUK immune ships.

IMO, the biggest problem with the pre-KF Fascists is their annoying propensity toward ship attrition. Since they have relatively weak ships taken alone, they fight best in fleets, preventing losses that would have been absolutely devestating under VCR. TKF fixes that.

Privateers:
The Privateers are mostly unaffected in games with fleet battle installed, you will be avoiding combat like the plague as it is. A friend of mine put it best: "If you have to fight playing the Pirates, you're doing it wrong." The way you fight is dependent on the ships you capture.

However, when you do fight, TKF gives you a bit of a boost. Meteors are good, fast ships, and they can mass in wolfpacks to take out a target quite easily. Before, the Meteor was mincemeat for any ship that caught it alive; now, the Pirates can "wolfpack" in combat as well as in rob. Few single ships can stand up to five MBR's... and that's just how it'll be fighting.

The Privateers are brought more into the forefront via TKF as a guerrila race, hit and run, rob, take what you want and use it against the enemy.

They always have been a guerrila race, but now, I predict some very interesting games from the Privateer alliance in the near future.

The "concentration of firepower" rule makes your defence a whole lot easier, but you shouldn't be on the defensive as it is. You know the drill--Go out and steal his ships before they come to you and play hell with your shipping.

Cyborg:
You will stand down and escort us to sector 0-0-1, where we will begin the assimilation of your species; your technological and biological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. We are Borg.

TKF gives Borg a greater resistance in the beginning of the game; but only slightly. In cases where you are being attacked by an enemy with limited resources, Borg has cheap, high-beam ships, and plenty of money. We can afford to swarm the single enemy ships with B222 Destroyers in fleets, which is really a decent ship, 85 kilotons and 7 beams. It is mincemeat to a decent torper; but against light fighter ships, it really can be a godsend, especially when coupled with the Firecloud or Quietus(if you're really in a bind).

The Firecloud is not really a fighting ship, that's fairly obvious from its design... however, in fleets, they have some teeth that they've not had before, and combined with less valuable cover ships (the Quietus/B222) are quite effective.

In the end game, as always, is where the fun comes in. Any self-respecting Borg can have huge fleets at their command, the Borg Fleets of Doom are a very, very, lethal thing. 'Round turn 100, two teams of 75 cubes each chunnel into the soft underbelly of an empire, and crunch... Protect those damned Fireclouds, as always, and now it is a hell of a lot easier. Watch out for cloak intercept, it's a bitch, I'll lie not to you about that.

And remember, we are Borg. we will be hunted down from TURN ONE by anyone with any sense at all. Find an empty section of the universe, and assimilate it. During the height of the game, we should have more Borg running around than there are ants living in your kitchen. Assimilate EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. Don't let anyone else get it. When we find that Insectiod Unity, thank your lucky stars that no one else found it, and then ASSIMILATE it. You know the drill.

Tholian:
Playing the Crystal empire is a lot easier when fleet battle is in place. Crystal web mines are the ideal; the absolute ideal, tool for preventing enemy fleets from coming together; and under cover of webs, your ships are free to move with impunity. For the most part, standard tactics hold for the Crystals; since combat isn't really much of a factor even in the best Crystal's combat bag of tricks.

With the Emerald and Ruby class ships, you have medium ships with high mass, good firing capacity, and lots of beams; all of which are important in fighting the carrier races; except for the Colonies, Crystal will fare very well against these races, since a fleet of, say, five Emeralds (40 beams, 15 torp tubes) has enough beam capacity to take out 80 fighters in their first volley (assuming Blasters) and 40 with each consecutive volley, all while firing their torps at a rate that few could match; and with web mines in place, most of the time, you will never have to fight against very large fleets, surprise and overlapping web fields are very good to take care of that. Against cruiser races, the Crystal's ability to concentrate forces while tactically (not strategically, for instance forcing the enemy to send their forces to another combat arena rather than using a web field) dividing forces with their webfields makes them a very hard race to invade without serious preparation.

Being able to capture and use enemy ships is just the icing on the cake, so to speak. Cloaking minelayers are not something that you want to see in Crystal hands; and if you do, you will rarely be able to do anything about it.

Evil Empire:
The Evil Empire really benefits from this add-on. The Emperor has always been frustrated by the clumsiness of VCR, considering what a beautifully balanced fleet he has. Face it, this race was born ready for fleet combat. Carrier size no longer means as much, if the starbase can only afford to build H-Ross carriers, great! Pair them up with your other more capable carriers, they may be the first to blow up, but they'll get a majority of their fighters in the air, and the surviving ships will rescue the left-over fighters. Also the Star Carrier, Cruiser and Destroyer if used in groups are really powerful, in fact think of a task force composed by 1 Gorbie,2 Cruisers,1 Destroyer,2 H-ross,2 Moscow and try to count the fighters you can launch in battle...

The SSD is a great ship when TKF is installed. They are just that much harder to take out, when coupled with some decent carriers and torpships. The standard method of taking them out, mines, is now less effective since the SSD can afford to carry all supplies, and rely on their subsidiary ships to keep them safe and supplied with clans.

Another use for the SSD is, as a NUK/ATT immune ship, is to prevent combat with planets. If a NUK/ATT ship is present, all ships will fight, excluding the planet. This can work for or against you, and mostly for you. Take an SSD along, and exclude that nasty starbase from combat, preserving your fighters... and then when phase four of combat rolls around, assuming you won the third phase, then you can wipe out the starbase with all the remaining, Non-nuk immune ships.

Maybe you don't think this is important - think again. If the host has turned "Planets Fire Torps" ON, you will have one hell of a fight on your hands taking over anything over 75 defense posts. Leaving the planet or starbase out of the fight can often make the difference between winning or losing an engagement.

Cylon:
The Robots have always been a very tough race. Extremely heavy ships, cheap fighters, 4x minefields... but you already know that.

From Biomenace

Just got a few things to note about robots. They are a pure brute force race. However, one should use their force slightly differently with TKF.
First, instrumentalities are now better ships than golems. You can build 2 for every 1 golem you can make(it costs about 40 more duranium, a bit less money), and they are much more versatile. 2 ships can cover 2 planets, or meet up and take out any heavy carrier. Also note; the iron slave isnt a bad ship. Dirt cheap, low mass so great engines arent needed. THey can make 7 fighters a turn while on standby, and when combined, they can launch quite a few fighters. 5 of them are about equal to a rush(5 * 1/2 = 5/10), and cost only 100 each of duranium and tritanium.
Other than that, life goes on for the robots. Lay tons of mines, hit your enemies with lots of big tough ships, etc.

Note that this is true for every race... medium ships are more versatile for several reasons, the most important as detailed above... you can split them up when you need to to get maximum coverage, and you don't bear more firepower than you need at any given location.

Rebel:
The Rebels have a couple of things going for them, like they've always had... they can build cheap fighters automatically, they have a low-tech, cheap torp ship, and the medium-tech Patriot, with extremely heavy firepower for its size. They also have a nice, cheap heavy battleship.

What more could a player ask for? Well, some subtlety would be nice. The Rebels have to fight with brute force only, they don't get any special tricks to help them out. Sure, RGA, but what good is that past a mass surprise attack with Falcons? A one shot pony at best. Where fleet battle comes in is to make the Rebels' cheap battlewagons effective. The Patriot is a nasty, effective little ship, and, in numbers, deadly. They can get their entire load of 30 fighters in the air quickly and effectively. Same with the Cygnus... it can launch 4 torpedos with one volley... not too bad at all for a tech one ship. Build these in large numbers (when you can't build Patriots) and send them in battlegroups... they are your cheap, expendable firepower... and in combo battlegroups with the Patriot, extremely useful not to say intimidating.

Rebels have a ship mission which makes them immune to planetary attack, the RGA, "Rebel Ground Assault" mission. The third phase of combat has, if NUK/ATT immune ships are present, all ships fighting against all ships. This essentially means that if you want to fight just the ships in orbit around the planet set one or all ships to RGA... you won't have to deal with it last phase of combat. This is especially useful because it applies the principle of concentration of force to an extent that only a few races can achieve. Once the third phase is finished, all of the remaining, non-NUK immune ships will be dumped into battle with the planet.

Colonies:
Ah, the Missing Colonies of Man. Cheap ships, cheap fighters, and lots of both. As with all things VGAP related, exploit your advantages. Forget all about your Cygnus/Virgo combo's, or any other little favorites you had. Build big, healthy ships brimming with fighters, send an escort of little torp ships to weaken the shields, and pour on the fighters.

Patriots en masse can help out with your initial attack, but you shouldn't plan on keeping them around, after they launch their cargo they are sitting ducks. As mentioned elsewhere, 6-8 mk7 torps will reduce a patriot to ashes, so send along a big brother or two to pick up the leftover fighters after a fight. Read this again: A 6-pack of Patriots can be chewed up with ease by a 4-pack of moderately armed torp vessels. Bring along a Virgo for mop-up and survivor work.

Remember the Colonies battle cry: "Fear No Minefield". Anyone who flies a carrier around without mission minesweep deserves to take a mine hit.

The Colonies are, like all the other fighter races, oriented around brute force. Go in and kick ass.

General Fleet tactics


Fleets, under TKF, are versatile, easy to work with, and deadly... when they are used correctly. This is a very touchy subject, something that comes with experience, which people simply do not have yet. However, through exhaustive simming, we can get a good idea of what actual real-type combat will be like.

The most effective fleets are ones that use a balanced mix of ship types; a balance of ship aggressiveness, ship firepower, and decisive usage will make, or break, the mission of a good fleet. For instance, in the oft-quoted example, a fleet with a screen of aggressively set small or medium ships makes a very effective screen for the carriers, which will form the primary weapon of the attack group, pumping fighters into the fray while remaining relatively unharmed. In a torpedo fight, one may want to use a solid-mass screen of several cheap, heavy ships that can take a lot of damage set aggressively to take most of the damage while the larger ships can wipe out the enemy ships at their leisure, and relatively scot-free. The most interesting battles, by far, are those that use primarily fighters; these can get expensive, for both sides. I would prefer, as a torp race, to avoid the use of fighters, period, but one can not always do that. A fleet with some fighters as cover will provide enough to allow your cruisers to do the dirty work with little interference, and thereby survive just that much longer.

Carrier fleets
This section will not be finalised until the 'official' version of the Killing Floor comes out. Fighter combat is something that has yet to be finalised; for instance, the recent addition of agressiveness in determining carrier combat is very, very useful... play with it, you'll see. Rule of thumb: Launch a LOT OF FIGHTERS, establish air superiority quickly, and you win.

Carrier fleets are not as all-encompassingly powerful against heavy cruisers as they used to; TKF beta one comes to mind... a single Patriot could easily take out a Nova, and under VCR, a single heavy carrier could take out squadrons of 3 to 4 medium cruisers and still limp away. They have their well-defined role in the VGAP universe as a support ship, a cover ship, a fighting ship, but these days of ruling the skies are clearly over.

Carriers are, by nature, not as versatile as a cruiser. They cannot lay minefields, they are usually fuel hogs (with a few happy exceptions) and cannot fight effectively by themselves (although more effectively than a lone cruiser). Carriers are limited in that most of them have little use other than fighting, which they do exceedingly well. These are, for most races, a mid-end game ship, not the primary component of an army; mostly because fighters are so damned expensive. Outfitting a Biocide, 10,000 credits, not counting minerals and the astronomical cost of the ship itself. Then again, since when was money a problem for the Borg... :)

Another thing is that carrier battles are a lot of fun to watch. I kid you not, it really is cool to watch all the different types of fighters duke it out while the carriers fly around... not so with torpers, all THEY do is spit antimatter at each other.

Since fighters do relatively invariant damage to a ship regardless of size, they are better used against larger ships, just as in VCR. They are good for taking down the shields of smaller ships, but take quite a while to wipe out the hull, in fact, almost the same amount of time is required to take out a large cruiser as a small one. For the sake of efficiency, carriers really should not be wasted on low mass, high-beam ships. (OTOH, this makes a good argument for using them as carrier decoys) They will usually beat them, but in the process, you've wasted your big carrier for a turn where it could have been somewhere else far more useful.

Against cruiser fleets, carriers are not absolutely necessary, but can have a good impact on the survivability of your ships... Torpers have a particularly hard time dealing with large enemy carriers. Carriers are not as effective against small cruisers as other, more powerful cruisers are, but against the larger ones, they are an absolute lifesaver. Using lots of small carrier, agressively set, can overwhelm torper ships very quickly and concentrate firepower very effectively.

Against carrier fleets, carriers are absolutely necessary. A lot of fighters are absolutely necessary, to quickly take out large carriers and prevent them from launching their full complement of fighter craft. Whether you fight against light or heavy carrier fleets, the amount of fighters you can launch in the air, fastest, will determine who wins. This is why cheap, light carriers are so valuable. When defensively set, these small, light carriers can launch fighters as fast or faster than the heavy carriers, they can last as long or almost as long as the heavy carriers, and they are dirt cheap. Their primary purpose in combat is to get their clip of fighters in the air as fast as they can, and establish early superiority over the enemy fleets' fighters; the defender fighters will shoot any fighters that they encounter, and if it is done quickly enough, will prevent fighters from being launched against your primary ships. This is a nasty tactic, I might add, but not always effective.

For instance, agressively set ships will, given equal forces, win. When you have an overwhelming advantage in fighters, set defensively to prevent damage.

Torper fleets
Cruisers are the bread and butter of TKF; the most versatile ships in the game. Most races use them for almost everything, almost all of the time. The cruiser is a scalpel, a difficult ship to use well and wisely, a ship of precision and a ship of intelligence, more for some races than others. They fight best and most effectively in groups, they are the primary ships of economy, patrol, exploration, intelligence, of almost every race. Cruisers can lay minefields, they can fight, they can drop clans, they are really the best ships available. And, in fleets, they can actually be used for combat against the more serious ships effectively. Federation cruisers are especially effective, (I won't go into Fed carriers... ugh) Lizards nearly so, and, used judiciously, very effective. A battle fought with torpedoes, is, sadly, just not as fun as watching a battle with carriers. What fun is it to watch a fleet of torp ships spray each other with antimatter when you can watch those little fighters go after each other and the enemy carriers? Still, as unglamorous as it might seem, this is an important thing to learn.

The big debate over which type of torps to buy, and which is better (more torp ships, vs. better quality weapons) is the biggest concern here. The following is my opinion. The primary rule for fighting with torp fleets against heavy ships is, more is better. It doesn't matter how small the torpedo is, once your high-tech torps have taken down the shields, torps will do a MINIMUM of 1 percent damage to the hull of an enemy ship, no matter how big. So, if you are fighting the really, really big ships, the more tubes you have available, the faster this is going to go. So, my advice to taking down a large carrier or heavy cruiser using torp ships is to use ships with high-tech weapons to go in fighting aggressively and take down the shields, and LOTS of medium, versatile ships to take down the hull with their cheaper torpedoes, which will for the most part do the same damage as the higher-tech torpedoes.

As for smaller enemy ships, high-tech torpedoes are far more effective, since you can take down their shields, and their hull, quickly and effectively. Fleets of small ships are especially vulnerable to high-tech torpers with carrier backup; including carrier fleets. The Patriot, in the exhausted example, is a very weak ship, it can be finished off by five direct hits with a mk7 torp, so, at default 65% miss rate, it will take only 8 torps, one volley to do it, and the sooner the Pat goes, the fewer fighters it can launch.

Against heavy carrier fleets, heavy cruisers simply do not have much of a chance. A large ship can't outrun a fighter, they don't have enough beams to take them out, and they can't afford to waste torpedoes on small groups of fighters. When you are fighting carrier or mixed fleets with cruisers, you had better make sure you have a LOT of firepower backing you up; because one carrier is easily the equal to two heavy cruisers in combat; three medium ships. Keep that ratio in mind if you must fight with cruisers instead of carriers.

In conclusion, the best use for a cruiser in combat is against lighter and medium ships. High- tech is better when dealing with these ships, but sometimes a tradeoff for more firepower against better firepower is worth your time.

Mixed fleets
Mixed fleets are the most important part of TKF combat strategy; under VCR, limited use could be made of them, very limited use indeed, for instance, the standard one-two cruiser-carrier punch was spouted to newbies and anyone who asked how to take out large carriers. Well, now, the best way to use heavy carriers is to not use them. Carriers by themselves are mincemeat when TKF is installed, it takes only a few medium ships, or several small ships, to do the same job that would have required the minimum loss of a heavy, high-tech torp ship under VCR.

There are several points of view when using mixed fleet combat, and usually it boils down to the simple principle that the mixed fleet is the versatile one; it can deal with almost any situation. The "standard" mix that we'll be seeing, for combat purposes, will likely be of a few medium cruisers and a heavy carrier. This combination can take any heavy ship with no damage, and is a good, solid unit when dealing with other fleets.

Cloaking ships
Are a real, immediate threat under TKF. Don't get me wrong, I'm not just saying this to get your attention. Cloaking ships are something that you really have to worry about when you are playing a game in which The Killing Floor is installed.

The first phase of combat is the Cloak Intercept phase; that is, all ships that have a cloaking device, that intercept a ship, will be dumped into the combat "meat grinder" before all other ships. What does this mean for combat? It means... that you have more options in combat than any other race. Resolutes get a huge boost from this, as if they didn't have enough of a boost already, because they can pick apart the fleet during the combat phase to make your life a lot more difficult. Say you are the Birdmen; you have a swift heart scout around a planet, and lo and behold, there are two heavy carriers. You know that if you just send your three Darkwings in, they will be nuked. So, you decide to intercept one of the heavy carriers with all three Darkwings. Those three get to decloak, dump their cargo into the gut of that carrier while taking minimal damage; and then work over the other carrier and the planet.

That's just one of the many applications of cloakers... there are still the standard applications: Minelaying, terror attacks, tow splitting a fleet, but now they can intercept and swarm targets in a more favorable combat arena. Cloakers have always been a precision instrument.

The Wolfpack tactic is now just as valuable to the Fascists and Lizards as it once was to the Pirates. If you don't want to have to fight that other nasty carrier, just tow what you do want to fight out of orbit to a waiting wolfpack; and if you want to, you can split your fleet (you're a cloaking race, you can do that), and tow both to waiting ships. Your options under TKF are just that much easier.

As usual, the Loki will cause you the occasional headache. Now you know what the Pirates have had to put up with all this time.. :) At the same time, the appearance of a Loki is actually a good thing. They signify the location of a very valuable planet, or starbase, or set of ships. If you make it a habit to "trip" the loki sensor by flying to within 10ly of a planet and then pulling out, you will increase your opponent's paranoia - eventually he will stop building warships and start building loki's. And I'd rather fight those little ships than big hulking carriers any day.

The Firecloud Class Cruiser
This particular ship deserves its own section.

I find that there is one rule that you should follow when dealing with the Firecloud, above all else: If you do not have a Firecloud, get one and destroy all others. If you cannot get one, destroy them all. You will thank me for that advice.

If you have one, well, great. The Firecloud is the best friend you can possibly have under TKF. The principle of "concentration of firepower" is taken to extremes with this little ship under your control. Any other race must send their warships out and hope for the best; any other race must split up their fleets to create an adequate defense, for any purpose. A good chunnel net eliminates this need; you can have all your ships, wherever you need them, at a moment's notice. That lone Firecloud making its way around your flank can chunnel in its buddies at a moments' notice, and make a devestating attack where and when you least want it. When you've committed your forces to an operation, any race with the Firecloud is able to deploy their fleets wherever the Fireclouds are. Even the Borg, with the Firecloud, can defend themselves quite effectively against fighter races in the beginning of the game, using only fleets of beam ships and a chunnel net spread throughout their empire; and any race with medium torp or carrier ships can do an absolutely devestating job using this simple, innocent little ship of death. If you are Borg, use any means at your disposal to prevent any one with a better fleet from getting hold of one of these. Even if they can not clone the ships themselves, they can find someone who can. The Firecloud is the genie in the bottle; and by extension, so are the Borg. If you can't GET one, destroy them all.

TKF Fleet Interface


The final interface has not been implemented into the TKF betas yet; all we have control over is the agressiveness display. Use it anyway. :).

Explosive Damage
Explosive power > 0 can kill one fighter.
Explosive power > 45 can kill two fighters.
Explosive power > 92 can kill three fighters.

Nicked from a message from Dale Pope:

TKF uses these two formulas:

DamageToShields = (explosive * 40 / (Ship_Hull_Mass + 1)) + HostCfg_MinimumDamage)
DamageToHull = (DamageToShields * 80 / (Ship_Hull_Mass + 1)) + HostCfg_MinimumDamage)

VCR uses:

DamageToShields = (explosive * 80 / (Ship_Hull_Mass + 1)) + 1
DamageToHull = (DamageToShields * 80 / (Ship_Hull_Mass + 1)) + 1

The formulas are actually equivalent when you take into account this: if a beam weapons has a 45 explosive value and it is 50% charged, VCR gives "explosive" a value of 22 (45 * .50), but TKF fills "explosive" as 45. At 100% charge, VCR uses 45, and TKF uses 90. For torpedoes, VCR uses double the explosive power listed in infolist, TKF uses 4 times. It all works out to be equivalent.

Torp weapons

Tube Type Explosive Rating
Mark 1 20
Proton 32
Mark 2 40
Gamma Bomb 8
Mark 3 45
Mark 4 120
Mark 5 140
Mark 6 160
Mark 7 188
Mark 8 220

Torpedoes have four times the explosive power as in VCR.

Note that all types above the Mk3 can take out an entire fighter wing with each torpedo; the mark four is most efficient for the purpose of killing fighters (Hmm... A Thor, with 8 mk4 tubes, could conceivably with 100% hits take out 24 fighters. A fleet of three Thors, combined with a couple Kittyhawks, would be sight to sicken the most resolute players).

Beam weapons

Weapon 50% Charge 100% Charge
Laser 3 6
X-Ray 1 2
Plasma Bolt 10 20
Blaster 25 50
Positron Beam 29 54
Disrupter 20 40
Heavy Blaster 40 80
Phaser 35 70
Heavy Disrupter 35 70
Heavy Phaser 45 90


Beam weapons fire when at greater than 50% charge.
Beam weapons start battle at 100% unless involved in a previous battle the same turn.
Beam weapons at 100% charge have twice the explosive power as 50% charge.
Note that the Blaster, positron beam, heavy blaster, phaser, heavy disrupter, and heavy phaser can destroy two fighters on their first shots; and one fighter on each concurrent shot. This makes the blaster the most efficient for its purpose ; but the heavy phaser, if it gets a chance to tick over a 50% charge, will be able to take out two fighters with every shot.

Fighters
First, a little background on fighters under TKF: They can be of two types, attackers, or defenders... defensive fighters will shoot at anything within range, including other enemy fighters, while they are heading to their target, while attacking fighters simply head toward their target, oblivious to whatever might be shooting at them. The percentage of fighters that are declared attackers versus the percentage that are declared defensive is determined by the agressiveness setting of the carrier in question. A value of 500 will throw 50% of each type, a value of 100 will throw out 10% attackers, a value of 900 will throw out 90% attacking fighters, and a value of 1000 (non-numeric FC) will throw all fighters into combat.

Fighters are launched in wings of three fighters each.

Agressiveness in combat
001 is extremely agressive; 999 or a non-numeric FC is extremely passive.

A friendly code from 000 to 499 will go toward the enemy to try take them out, while a friendly code from 501 to 1000 will hang back. Since beta 4, there is a significant difference between the speeds 499 and 501.

Non-numeric friendly codes are considered to be 1000 in speed; that is, they will stay in the rear of the fleet, and 500 in fighter launching (they will launch 50% attackers/defenders)

The agressiveness rating, determined by friendly code, is a limited method of controlling the way your ships act in combat, somewhat akin to battle order. The ships with the lowest friendly codes will start combat slightly closer to the enemy and move into combat faster; while those with higher value friendly codes will tend to hang back in combat, much like the VCR battle order.

Carriers use the agressiveness rating to determine the amount of the two types of fighters used in combat. There are two fighter types, as explained earlier, attackers and defenders. Carriers with high aggression(low FC) will tend to go for the jugular, launch more attacking fighters, while carriers with low aggression will launch most of their fighters to defend their home carriers, firing at anything that comes in range, be it other fighters, or other ships. This forms a very nice defensive screen.

For instance, an agressiveness rating of 225 will launch 22.5% defenders, and 77.5% attackers.

Torpedo-based ships use the agressiveness setting to determine torpedo usage. A torp ship set on high-defense mode will fire torps at incoming fighter squadrons, with blast damage similar to the beam damage table. I am not sure why anyone would want to use torps on fighters, unless you really want to punch a hole in someone's line for your own fighters to get through.

Battle order
As I understand, via notes with TKF's author, there are four phases to combat. So up to four KF combats can occur at one waypoint.
1. All cloaking ships on intercept mission VS all intercept targets
(of cloakable ships)

2. Cloaked ships with p.e. set VS p.e. ships (no planet)

3. IF ATT/NUK immune ships present all ships VS all ships

4. All survivors VS all survivors.

Splitting The Fleet

Splitting a fleet has its advantages in that, by breaking it up, you can deal with the individual components. On the other hand, there are situations in which it is far better to leave the ships as they are, where you can take them out all at once. The rule of thumb in this scenario is that if you can take out the entire fleet with minimal losses, do so, but if your forces are insufficient to the task, split them apart and deal with the components. It is not wise to split up a fleet when you cannot deal with even the individual components.. for instance, if a fleet of Fireclouds arrives en masse and splits in such a way that you cannot take them all out in a reasonable amount of time, you are pretty well screwed when the BFOD come in. :).
A good fleet-splitting tactic is to use the technique known as the "forced move" in chess. You place your ships in such a location that he MUST split his fleet to protect two important targets.

After all, what would YOU do if a large fleet was coming towards you, and you had to make a choice between defending your starbase and the bovinoid planet next door?

In reverse, the firecloud allows you to cause near-death brain meltdowns in other players - send in 3-4 fireclouds, with a small escort of course, and march in line abreast about 40 ly apart. The enemy KNOWS that a BFOD (Borg Fleet of Doom) is going to pop in with ONE of them, but which one? Then as you get closer fan out a bit more, so he is REALLY spread thin. A good follow-up tactic on this is to chunnel in the big fleet to one location, wait one turn (you can hear all the enemy ships pulling an e-brake turn to close on you, then chunnel AGAIN to one of the other fireclouds. You can play a galactic game of 'hot potato' this way for a while. Some players will scoff at this and complain that the bogr are not for intimidation, they are for devastation. Get in there and attack him. But the whole idea behind this posturing is to force the enemy into a defensive posture - wagons in a circle, if you will. After all what you want to do is minimize the chance of a deep-space confrontation (which always carries the threat of a dozen glory devices wiping you out entirely) by forcing him to hole up around his key planets and starbases. No self-respecting player goes POP over their homeworld.

Another major fleet splitting tactic is the judicious use of web minefields. Since ordinary minefields do not actually stop ships with engines that are over a certain tech level, they are fairly useless in that regard (although they are helpful in preventing weapon charge... it could mean that a couple extra fighters survive the battle).

Splitting up a fleet can also be achieved most easily by the cloaking races. CIA (Cloaker Intercept Attack) allows them to attack selectively any component of a fleet they so choose to fight, while preserving the rest of the fleet at the same location; as well, the ability to tow the weaker components of a fleet away from their larger buddies is also quite useful.

 

 
 
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