New player impressions

General Stars in Shadow Discussion Forum
Noyyau
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:07 pm

New player impressions

Postby Noyyau » Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:39 pm

Hello!
I bought Stars in Shadow a couple of weeks ago, and now that I've started to get a feel for how things work I thought I'd share a few thoughts.
General impression is that it's a very well thought out game, both in game mechanics and the UI. I'm loving all the hyperlinks in the various explanation windows, I spent the first few hours just reading stuff and writing down important-seeming info.
The art is great (I've known Arioch's comic for a long time, was half expecting to find Loroi and Umiak in here as well).

First I've played a simple "get to know the game" round, Normal with Yoral (everything abundant, 80ish stars, all factions). Without really knowing what I was doing, I found myself colonizing 30-odd systems while the AIs were around 10 at the most. Quite a peaceful corner of the galaxy that was, nobody attacked me, I blasted a few pirate and marauder bases, at some point the Orthin even offered themselves to be annexed. Trade and science agreements with everybody I could meet. Experimented with carriers and battleships. Played around with resettling different races on various planet types to increase max population limits. That's a really nice idea.
Someone killed off the humans without me ever having met them (opposite sides of the map). Some wars amongst the AIs, though I didn't interfere as they were too distant for me to reach.

Then I went with the Phidi, Hard, 130ish stars, again everything abundant (hourglass galaxy shape, it's... strange). Compared to the Yoral (though I don't yet know how much is due to the difficulty level, and how much due to the different race) I found myself struggling with production and population growth. Decent number of Ocean planets in the vicinity, though as it turns out, Phidi consider them low fertility and pay hostile environment costs. Economy seemed decent, the mercenary exchange is an awesome game mechanic, though as soon as I hired a few cruisers, income fell noticeably. Mercenaries do cost a lot in upkeep!
The humans started nearby, and very quickly seemed to have swarms of ships everywhere, were spamming outposts and colonies with abandon and I found myself boxed in and unable to catch up. No hope to beat them militarily, my few mercs couldn't compete with their ship swarms (and they were researching faster than me as well).
Barely managed to fend off a Orthin attack (they wanted a planet in one of my systems). Their first exploring Cruiser was barely stopped by my desperate pirate-capturing Destroyer flotilla (taking substantial losses), but for some reason the Orthin got scared and sued for peace, even gifting me a system they had just colonized. That was unexpected.
Still, I felt boxed in and falling behind more and more, so abandoned the game.

Now I'm on a second go with the Phidi, almost same settings, only difference is that it's a "circle" galaxy. This time I'm surrounded by wonderful Island planets, and my problem is I can't crank out colony ships fast enough. Production is still a struggle.
Again got Humans as neighbours, this time, forewarned, I expanded aggressively in their direction, putting up an outpost and a colony (both money-rushed to save a couple crucial turns) only 1 or 2 turns before their own colony ships got there. That managed to put up a sort of wall between us, and the humans expanded in the other direction for a while.
Later, while I'm still working with only one truly productive planet (the capital, the others are still too low on population and buildings), and barely settling around and clearing the first easy pirates (mercs are great in this regard, also scrapping captured pirate ships is surprisingly effective as a metal source), I see a human colony ship coming towards one of the garden worlds next to my capital, from like 15 turns away. I manage to rush a colony ship barely in time and settle the place one turn before their arrival. The humans didn't like that. (Also I love that this is considered a heavy diplomatic penalty.)
The humans aren't graceful losers, and have the gall to demand the planet off me. I of course refuse, and they attack.
My fleet consists of three merc light cruisers and a couple of my own boarding destroyers (which seem more like shuttles, just a boarding module and a PD coilgun with an engine). I scramble all the money I can and hire a couple "command cruisers" from the Gremak mercs (had met the Gremak proper exploring the far side of humanity thanks to the extended range from a new colony settled along their border, the Gremak meanwhile at some point also declared war on me, but only one cruiser ever arrived, and I managed to make it retreat after it bombed one of my outer colonies. Lost contact after that, though the mercs remained available.). These are instrumental in fending off the human heavy cruisers, though I still lose my most distant colony to invasion.
As a side note, the assault shuttles that the "command cruisers" come with are awesome... or would be, if they didn't constantly get shot down immediately by PD (even at "ramming" distance). At least they are replenished the next turn.
Anyway, having repulsed the first serious human attempt against my worlds, I decide that I can't really compete in an attrition war (my income has already fallen enough that it's impossible to hire new mercs anytime soon, and I definitely can't compete in production, considering the most I can field are... those same destroyers from the start of the game, and they still take too many turns to build anywhere except the capital, despite having built up a couple more planets with factories.).
Luckily by this time I had already researched the strategic speed increase, and the human systems on the border are a mere 1 turn travel away. So off to raid we go! (Had a laugh when I opened the diplomacy screen at some point, and my own leader tells me something along the lines of "War is horrible, no point trying to make it better. The more horrible the better in fact, it'll end quicker".)
After having depopulated a couple border worlds, tangled with a couple light cruisers and avoiding the planets with planetary guns on them, the humans finally sue for peace, and to my suprise they not only offer me back my distant colony that they had conquered at the beginning of the war, but even throw in one of their own border worlds!
And this with one of their fleets about 5 turns away from my undefended factory border world. Strange decision on their part, but I'm not complaining. At least I get some human colonists to settle those arid worlds I couldn't yet touch.
Of course I'm aware this is only a cease fire, and I need to find a way to build up a substantial military to hit their fortified worlds when hostilities will inevitably resume. No idea how to, though.
And that's where I am now.


Coming from games like Distant Worlds, the galaxy size in SiS feels... small. Less than a hundred stars is snug compared to the sprawling galaxies of DW. So far I've played with "abundant" habitable worlds. I guess it's a good abstraction for "we're considering only the systems actually worth mentioning, and outright ignoring empty systems with nothing of interest whatsoever". It works well with how production and resource mining is centered on habitable worlds, empty or uninhabitable systems would be pointless (and a waste of endturn calculation time).

I'm still getting used to the pacing of production compared to research and travel times. So far it feels that as soon as I manage to cobble together a couple of ships, they're still on their way somewhere when something new comes up and they ought to be refitted. Research, even with only a couple of labs from a "derelict colony" event in my current Phidi game, feels quite fast compared to population growth and building and starship production. Though maybe for the Phidi that's intended and I should focus more on money and rush everything?

I suppose I should try the Tinkers next. Though the imperial Ashdar are also interesting, rapid travel (especially with dense stars) must be a big advantage in the early game.

User avatar
sven
Site Admin
Posts: 1560
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:24 pm
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Contact:

Re: New player impressions

Postby sven » Mon Nov 25, 2019 10:35 pm

Noyyau wrote:Research, even with only a couple of labs from a "derelict colony" event in my current Phidi game, feels quite fast compared to population growth and building and starship production. Though maybe for the Phidi that's intended and I should focus more on money and rush everything?


Phidi are balanced pretty differently than most of the other races. Yoral, for example, are certainly better at conventional ship-building tactics. But, if you're playing Phidi, and you focus on producing coins, you can produce a lot of coins.

Noyyau wrote:I suppose I should try the Tinkers next. Though the imperial Ashdar are also interesting, rapid travel (especially with dense stars) must be a big advantage in the early game.


While you're still figuring the balance out, I'd suggest trying Ashdar Imperials, over the Tinkers. Tinkers have a bunch of unique mechanics, especially around population growth, and they really require their own specialized strategies to play well. Ashdar Imperials, in contrast, are just a very strong "conventional" race, with some neat special perks that will give you a leg up while you're still figuring out how to thrive on the higher difficulty levels.

gaerzi
Posts: 81
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:30 pm

Re: New player impressions

Postby gaerzi » Mon Nov 25, 2019 11:42 pm

Noyyau wrote:Coming from games like Distant Worlds, the galaxy size in SiS feels... small. Less than a hundred stars is snug compared to the sprawling galaxies of DW. So far I've played with "abundant" habitable worlds. I guess it's a good abstraction for "we're considering only the systems actually worth mentioning, and outright ignoring empty systems with nothing of interest whatsoever". It works well with how production and resource mining is centered on habitable worlds, empty or uninhabitable systems would be pointless (and a waste of endturn calculation time).

Technically, you can generate a galaxy with 999 star systems. The game will warn you about poor performances, though to be honest I didn't really notice a change between 88 stars and 250 stars (the max I've actually tried), but that might just be because I tend to alt-tab and do other things during endturn.

Note that there are "pointless" systems in the game, stars without any planet, though probably not with "abundant" settings. The actual explanation for why you only get access to a small part of the galaxy (and why it the part you have access to is so defined by geometry, allowing fancy shapes like hourglass or ring) can be discovered if you research hyperspace anomalies.

AMX
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:41 pm

Re: New player impressions

Postby AMX » Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:58 am

Noyyau wrote:As a side note, the assault shuttles that the "command cruisers" come with are awesome... or would be, if they didn't constantly get shot down immediately by PD (even at "ramming" distance).

Sounds like you're not getting quite close enough - when you're actually in contact with the target shuttles work just like a boarding module would.
Alternatively, you can use missiles to occupy the PD.

Noyyau
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:07 pm

Re: New player impressions

Postby Noyyau » Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:07 pm

sven wrote:Phidi are balanced pretty differently than most of the other races. Yoral, for example, are certainly better at conventional ship-building tactics. But, if you're playing Phidi, and you focus on producing coins, you can produce a lot of coins.

While you're still figuring the balance out, I'd suggest trying Ashdar Imperials, over the Tinkers. Tinkers have a bunch of unique mechanics, especially around population growth, and they really require their own specialized strategies to play well. Ashdar Imperials, in contrast, are just a very strong "conventional" race, with some neat special perks that will give you a leg up while you're still figuring out how to thrive on the higher difficulty levels.


I've played on, the cease fire with the humans still holds and now that population is increasing across my planets, I finally felt I could switch the capital to all markets. Income skyrocketed! Apparently I had missed the tidbit that says that Opil gives even more extra income per each market built.
Now I want to experiment and begin with all markets immediately, I wonder if that will give me enough income to rush stuff instead of building it the normal way.
As time permits, next game will be the Ashdar imperials then, thanks for the tip.

gaerzi wrote:Technically, you can generate a galaxy with 999 star systems. The game will warn you about poor performances, though to be honest I didn't really notice a change between 88 stars and 250 stars (the max I've actually tried), but that might just be because I tend to alt-tab and do other things during endturn.

Note that there are "pointless" systems in the game, stars without any planet, though probably not with "abundant" settings. The actual explanation for why you only get access to a small part of the galaxy (and why it the part you have access to is so defined by geometry, allowing fancy shapes like hourglass or ring) can be discovered if you research hyperspace anomalies.


I had researched the hyperspace anomaly tech and
Spoiler: show
gotten an encounter with that strange Herald fellow, in the first exploratory game with the Yoral. But all anomalies apparently contain massive numbers of star harpies
and I stopped that game before mustering enough of a fleet to deal with them.
Time to delve further into the mysteries of this galaxy then! Thanks

AMX wrote:Sounds like you're not getting quite close enough - when you're actually in contact with the target shuttles work just like a boarding module would.
Alternatively, you can use missiles to occupy the PD.

I'll experiment with getting to boarding range then, thanks.

Also, newbie question: I'm not entirely clear on what the colored bars represent in the ship combat screen.
Green on the right seems to be crew, grey in the middle armor, but the left one with both red and yellow confuses me. Hull integrity? But how come the yellow and red bars react differently to damage?
And where is a bar for the shields?
What am I missing?

gaerzi
Posts: 81
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:30 pm

Re: New player impressions

Postby gaerzi » Wed Nov 27, 2019 2:25 pm

Noyyau wrote:I had researched the hyperspace anomaly tech and
Spoiler: show
gotten an encounter with that strange Herald fellow, in the first exploratory game with the Yoral. But all anomalies apparently contain massive numbers of star harpies
and I stopped that game before mustering enough of a fleet to deal with them.
Time to delve further into the mysteries of this galaxy then! Thanks


You don't need to explore the anomalies, just notice how they are spread throughout the galaxy and also read between the line of the Herald's exposition.
Spoiler: show
Hyperspace anomalies are artificial constructs, and they are what allows hyperspace to be reached from normal space. All hyperspace-reachable worlds are within range of an anomaly.


Noyyau wrote:Also, newbie question: I'm not entirely clear on what the colored bars represent in the ship combat screen.
Green on the right seems to be crew, grey in the middle armor, but the left one with both red and yellow confuses me. Hull integrity? But how come the yellow and red bars react differently to damage?
And where is a bar for the shields?
What am I missing?


Shields are in green, but there are four different shields (fore, aft, starboard, port). I believe yellow is for systems and red for hull, but I'm not entirely sure.

zolobolo
Posts: 1236
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:49 pm

Re: New player impressions

Postby zolobolo » Thu Nov 28, 2019 7:50 pm

Noyyau wrote:imperial Ashdar are also interesting, rapid travel (especially with dense stars) must be a big advantage in the early game.

Have the stars spaced normally to maximize their advantage: if they are too loose you get a huge advantage on the way there but also loose a lot of time returning to the Ancient Gate. If the stars are dense, you do not save a lot of travel time early on.

Noyyau
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:07 pm

Re: New player impressions

Postby Noyyau » Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:23 pm

The Phidi save got too big at some point and the game kept freezing when loading it, I thought it got corrupted and deleted it. Only later did I discover (with the Haduir game) that if I first load a couple smaller saves, then the game can manage to deal with the larger save. I suppose this is due to my old pc and limited graphic memory.

I started an Ashdar Haduir game: dense stars (should have done normal spacing probably, as zolobolo suggested), oval shape, hard, all abundant, Epic speed.
Even if only one-way, the ancient stargate is a fundamental strategic asset, both in early exploration, and in later rapid response to threats. I had initially thought it would work only inside a fixed range (the starting game fuel range I guessed), only later did I realize that it actually works anywhere inside your in-range area. Game changer.
The instant population transport from the capital is just icing on the cake.

Initially I focused all efforts on colonizing all the decent planets I could discover. The nearby Orthin reacted poorly to my sniping one juicy mineral-rich planet from under their noses (well, mandibles). Relations never improved, later on they demanded that planet from me and I had to acquiesce (had only a handful of destroyers for pirate capture-and-scrap raids, and nothing that could punch through Orthin shields, not to mention expanding Gremaks on the opposite border).
I just kept colonizing all the available planets, cleared the pirates and acquired several fantastic garden worlds.
Had a couple skirmishes with the Gremak that resulted only in me bombing a few of their border planets, no real gains or losses on either side. Managed to secure an alliance with the Teros on the opposite side of the Gremak, but the rest of the diplomacy remained stagnant, only the Phidi (when I later got contact) were willing to trade and sign treaties.
Eventually I decided that it was time to retake my long-lost planet from the Orthin: now I had heavy cruisers, coilguns against their shields, and a few tank brigades for invasions.
While I was retaking my former planet and a couple neighbouring systems as well, the Orthin sent their whole fleet to the opposite side of my empire, striking at my factory planets. By the time my fleet had returned to the capital, Waterless lay in ruins (though I had evacuated most of the population at the last second), and the Orthin fleet was on its way towards Minalei, my best planet by far: a Large Island world, with 7 buildings, and a population second only to the capital, with a mindboggling maximum population of 31 (thanks to a diverse population, including Phidi and Orthin).
Only thanks to the ancient stargate could disaster be avoided: the slow moving Orthing fleet was suddenly met by my own fleet directly from the capital in a 1-turn long range jump.
The coilguns justified the research and refitting costs, the Orthins were defeated, Minalei was saved.
After that I easily liberated Waterless and the Orthin sued for peace, offering a couple more planets in the deal, which I gladly accepted.
Finally I had enough Orthin colonists to move around and settle those Glacier and Iceball planets I hadn't yet touched.
Afterwards things remained peaceful for me for a while. I cleared several harpy-infested systems, captured the ancient dreadnought (and scrapped it for tech) and watched how the Teros first conquered half of the Gremak empire, and then decided to give up and be annexed by me. Sweet.
Meanwhile, a Phidi-Yoral-Human coalition gobbled up the Tinkers.
Now I'm almost ready to invade what's left of the Gremak, mostly to exterminate them. Except for their capital and a couple juicy garden worlds, their colonies are terrible small arid rock- or iceballs, hardly worth the hostile enviroment expenses (and the lost income from the transports while they ferry Orthin around to settle the iceballs).

What I've learned so far from this game is that I still need to build more mines. When Shipyards and heavy cruisers become available, I can sustain only one, at most two factory worlds producing warships at the same time, my metal stockpile suddenly evaporating in a single turn or two.

Also a few more newcomer questions:

1) Is there any use in having a Space Station and a Shipyard together on the same planet? As far as I can understand, the Shipyard is a bigger, better Space Station.
Would be nice if Space Stations could be Refitted to Shipyards, instead of having to scrap them and build the Shipyard from scratch.

2) What is the point of the Fleet Base? I already can build the larger hull tiers with the Shipyard.

3) What is the lower limit for a population to not disappear from a planet? I think I saw it mentioned somewhere ingame but I can't find it again.

Noyyau
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:07 pm

Re: New player impressions

Postby Noyyau » Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:30 pm

gaerzi wrote:
Shields are in green, but there are four different shields (fore, aft, starboard, port). I believe yellow is for systems and red for hull, but I'm not entirely sure.


Having done some more fighting, I'm pretty sure now that the green vertical bar on the right is crew (as it diminishes after boardings and gets replenished when I transfer crew between ships), not shields, though shield damage and regen numbers that hover above the ships are in fact green.
Yellow / red for systems / hull seems correct.

gaerzi
Posts: 81
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:30 pm

Re: New player impressions

Postby gaerzi » Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:03 pm

Noyyau wrote:1) Is there any use in having a Space Station and a Shipyard together on the same planet? As far as I can understand, the Shipyard is a bigger, better Space Station.

You can have two orbitals. Typically I refit space stations into research stations by putting in science labs. A single station can have two labs once you have advanced solar panels. Every science boost is good to have.

Noyyau wrote:2) What is the point of the Fleet Base? I already can build the larger hull tiers with the Shipyard.

System defense. They're big tough stationary spaceships that can have a lot of weapons on them, so they're handy for protecting a planet. The question is, however, are they worth the investment, compared to actual warships? I tend to think they don't. And especially if you have the Ash Imps with their ancient star gate allowing your fleet to quickly reinforce any system.

Noyyau wrote:3) What is the lower limit for a population to not disappear from a planet? I think I saw it mentioned somewhere ingame but I can't find it again.


The cut off is around 200 000. If you have 1 200 000 people of a given race on a planet and move them to another, the other planet will get 1 000 000, but the source planet will get 0.

I think I managed to get smaller population number than that but from capturing a planet after some bombings. Might be misremembering, though.

AMX
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:41 pm

Re: New player impressions

Postby AMX » Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:44 pm

gaerzi wrote:I think I managed to get smaller population number than that but from capturing a planet after some bombings. Might be misremembering, though.

I've seen that as well.

Noyyau
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:07 pm

Re: New player impressions

Postby Noyyau » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:57 am

gaerzi wrote:
Spoiler: show
Noyyau wrote:1) Is there any use in having a Space Station and a Shipyard together on the same planet? As far as I can understand, the Shipyard is a bigger, better Space Station.

You can have two orbitals. Typically I refit space stations into research stations by putting in science labs. A single station can have two labs once you have advanced solar panels. Every science boost is good to have.

Interesting idea! So far I've been scrapping the space stations for the metal. I have been thinking of spamming outposts with just science stations on them once I research the solar panels, though ship production is more of a priority so haven't tried it yet.

gaerzi wrote:
Spoiler: show
Noyyau wrote:2) What is the point of the Fleet Base? I already can build the larger hull tiers with the Shipyard.

System defense. They're big tough stationary spaceships that can have a lot of weapons on them, so they're handy for protecting a planet. The question is, however, are they worth the investment, compared to actual warships? I tend to think they don't. And especially if you have the Ash Imps with their ancient star gate allowing your fleet to quickly reinforce any system.

I concur, mobility is key, a massive (and massively expensive) immobile station doesn't seem that useful, compared to the same metal and labor expense for ships.

gaerzi wrote:
Spoiler: show
Noyyau wrote:3) What is the lower limit for a population to not disappear from a planet? I think I saw it mentioned somewhere ingame but I can't find it again.


The cut off is around 200 000. If you have 1 200 000 people of a given race on a planet and move them to another, the other planet will get 1 000 000, but the source planet will get 0.

I think I managed to get smaller population number than that but from capturing a planet after some bombings. Might be misremembering, though.


Thanks, I had seen some really low numbers (less than 100 000) as well after bombings, and was perplexed when higher numbers (in the low 100 000s) left after a colonist move disappeared the next turn.


Return to “General Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests