The Shofixti Scout

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The Troglodyte
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The Shofixti Scout

Post by The Troglodyte » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:23 pm

Let’s cuss and discuss the Shofixti Scout!

I have always admired the scout and remember fondly about using it often in Star Control 1. In Melee, I could use it to take down an Ilwrath Avenger or a VUX Intruder with no problem, and it could always inflict a good chunk of damage to a Dreadnought if I could get close enough during a suicide run… which are always fun!

In the campaign missions, it lived up to the name ‘scout’ by making an excellent low-cost reconnaissance vessel, and building a few of these guys in the beginning was a great way to kickstart a mission and build up some mines and colonies, and they could try to hold the line while waiting for the more expensive ships to arrive.

Any thoughts? What do YOU think about the scout? Do you ever consider using one in SuperMelee? Does it make a good opener? Finisher?

And here’s the burning question that I know must be on everybody’s mind: How do you think a fleet of these puppies will do against an opposing fleet? We shall soon see!
“He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!” ― Khan Noonien Singh

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Re: The Shofixti Scout

Post by Draxas » Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:28 pm

Never been much of a fan of the Scout (or any kamikaze tactics in general). It certainly had a niche in SC1, not so much in this game where you can get a Stinger for roughly the same price and expect it to potentially survive a battle. Some folks like to use Scouts as openers for PvP, and I suppose it's not a bad choice for testing the waters. In the campaign, it's worse than useless for general combat, though the crew cost reduction that comes with it is certainly welcome and might even make using them sorta viable? Doesn't jive at all with your playstyle to be sure, what with the no crew death policy.

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Re: The Shofixti Scout

Post by The Troglodyte » Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:45 pm

Yeah, you’re right, I probably won’t use one for those reasons. But you better believe I’m going to be dragging one of those scouts before the Yehat and see how they react. Oops! Speaking of which, I forgot to add the usual non-spoiler request as it pertains to in-game Shofixti knowledge, so anybody referencing the Shofixti from SC2 should please spoiler mark if anything pertinent comes up in those regards, since I’ve only recently revived the Shofixti (well, the credit should really go to Tanaka ;)-smf ).
“He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!” ― Khan Noonien Singh

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Re: The Shofixti Scout

Post by Quasispatial » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:49 pm

Let us jump right into an analysis, shall we?

Shofixti Scout
Class: LCC (Light, Close Combat).
Primary Armament: Mendosukai Energy Dart
Secondary Armament: Glory Device

Overview: The Scout is a cheap vessel which, whilst ineffective against any ship with long range or a large health pool, still has its uses. Its Energy Darts are generally considered an ineffective combat tool, although they can prove useful for finishing off a near-death foe. The Glory Device is a one-use suicide weapon which can be effective at taking down low-health, hard-to-hit foes, as its area-of-effect damage cannot be reliably dodged at close range.

Preferred targets: The Scout is generally a weak vessel, but due to its low cost, it is expendable and can therefore be risked relatively freely. The Skiff, the Terminator and the Jugger are some notably suitable targets.
The Skiff is a bit of an odd case. A Skiff is expensive. Whilst its emergency teleporter can sometimes allow it to dodge a Glory Device detonation (I have personally foiled the AI a number of times with this, by teleporting away at just the right moment, and have gotten enough practice to do it semi-reliably by this point), it is very much a hit-and-miss tactic, and it is highly unlikely that four Scouts are all going to miss, making it a cost-effective choice as any successful Glory Device hit will very likely be a lethal one.
The Jugger and the Terminator are very much in the same boat. Due to a quirk with the Glory Device, the Scout's suicide weaponry, much like planetary collisions, ignore shields entirely. Whereas both the Jugger and the Terminator have great firepower, their defensive abilities will be nullified by the workings of the Glory Device, making them vulnerable to this vessel. If a Skiff captain can successfully close the distance, they can deal a lot of damage which even very expensive, well-equipped vessels may struggle to inflict against Terminators or Juggers in competent hands.

Vulnerabilities: The Scout is generally a very vulnerable ship, but these three vessels are particularly noteworthy: the Eluder, the Podship and the Blade.
The Eluder's strength stems primarily from its health pool. The Eluder is both maneuverable and durable, and only costs 18 points at that. Typically, one will need several Scouts to reliably take down an Eluder, which often puts it at an effective profit against the cost expended for the Scouts themselves.
The Podship poses a problem due to its health generation capability. Its health pool is large enough to withstand a Glory Device detonation even at point-blank range, and the damage caused, it can heal. It is possible to whittle down a Podship with the Scout's "primary" armament (in this case meaning the Energy Darts rather than the Glory Device, which seems to be the de-facto primary for many users), but this tactic will often result in the Scout taking a lethal plasmoid hit before it can cause sufficient damage.
The Blade is fast enough to avoid the Scout, has sufficient range to fire on it safely, and a good-enough rate of fire to actually perform consistently in terms of hits. Combined with its unique movement capabilities, the Scout is quite frankly utterly outclassed in every respect, often unable to even put its Glory Device to good use.

Usage: The Scout is not a good choice for campaign games, as its power truly isn't worth the ship slot it takes up. However, in SuperMelee it has several uses. One of these uses is as an opener, as the Scout, whilst not extremely effective against very many ships, can still often put its Glory Device to good use regardless of its foe's identity. It may also, in the absence of an Avatar, be used to counter enemies which are hard to hit (due to the Glory Device's guaranteed hit at close range) or, thanks to its small frame, against ships which have a hard time hitting smaller enemies, such as the Mauler. Above all, however, its strength lies in its expendability, owing to the fact that it costs very little to put into your fleet. A lost Scout is not a big loss.
"Sentient life. We are the Ur-Quan. Independence is intolerable. Blah, blah, blah." - the Spathi High Council, Star Control II.

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Re: The Shofixti Scout

Post by Shiver » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:38 am

The Troglodyte wrote:Let’s cuss and discuss the Shofixti Scout!
Appropriate first line. This is one of the most overpowered ships in the game. If you suicide bomb something to death, that's a win; the bombed player chooses their next ship first, giving the bomber initiative to counter the ship after. And while Shofixti isn't favored to KO very many ships outright, the glory device hurts, and it can finish many of them off if they're wounded. This ship is one of the reasons we in #uqm-arena almost never allowed more than one of each ship type in a fleet. 3-7 Shofixti Scouts would give someone an advantage over virtually any fleet composition. There are ships that are good at dismantling Shofixti in bulk (Mycon, Kohr-Ah, Supox, a few others), but massing only those ships will cause bigger problems due to your own fleet not containing a variety of counters to handle everything else your opponent has. Forget even using Chmmr, which is normally a very competitive choice, if your opponent is able to amass Shofixti.

The Balance Mod solution for the Scout was to cut the glory device damage in half. It was a very ugly fix. If I understood the code better, I would have forced simultaneous ship selection (what both players do at the start of the match) after a glory device kill. After that, maybe trim that damage back by a couple points.

And here’s the burning question that I know must be on everybody’s mind: How do you think a fleet of these puppies will do against an opposing fleet? We shall soon see!
Pfft, cyborg vs cyborg tests.

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Re: The Shofixti Scout

Post by The Troglodyte » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:14 pm

Shiver wrote:Pfft, cyborg vs cyborg tests.
I can understand the eyeroll… mostly. The one glaring truth that I’ve uncovered while conducting these sort of tests is how the AI programming was clearly never really intended to be put up against itself, although it has improved a tad since Star Control 1.

By the way, SC1 had 3 choices for AI involvement, such as computer, which performed all game functions in campaign or Melee, obviously, as well as Psytron mode, which allowed the computer to perform the strategy in campaign mode (or choose your ship for you in Melee) while Cyborg mode let you perform the strategy (or pick the ships in Melee) and the computer would fight your battles for you:

Image

This AI function is favorable to those of us who find AI mechanics fascinating, or are sometimes feeling too lazy when tasked with performing high-reflex fighting scenarios, and it also appeals to anybody who doesn’t have the luxury of fully functional 2 arms, 2 hands and/or 10 fingers… and let’s just say I meet 2 out of the 3 aforementioned criteria.

But anyway, I’ve found that learning the AI’s tendencies can often help me learn something new about how the AI performs, even though most of the times the way the computer handles ships is quite laughable, but sometimes the various match-ups will introduce me to something I’ve never seen before, and I can apply some of those processes to me own strategy… which brings us to our first match-up!

Well, I usually like to begin the analysis with a fun quote from the game, but I didn’t have much dialogue to pull from either the Shofixti or Umgah. Fortunately, thanks to one of our faithful members here at SCDB, I’ve upgraded my quote software significantly, so let’s get to it!
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“Next to power without honor, the most dangerous thing in the world is power without humor.” - Eric Sevareid
14 Shofixti Scouts (14 x 5 = 70 pts.)
VS.
14 Umgah Drones
(14 x 7 = 98 pts.)
RESULTS: Umgah wins with 1 remaining Drone!
Approximate battle time: 13 minutes.

ANALYSIS: The Scout would arrive and dance around and shoot at the Drone for a good while, which explains the battle time, but it would always end the same way: Either the planet would enter the equation and pull the ships towards each other, a stray asteroid would hit the scout and push it quickly towards the Drone, or the Scout would place enough distance to get ready for another run and the Drone would use its zipping backwards drive to hurl itself at the Scout, at which time during any of these events the Scout would detonate its Glory Device, simultaneously destroying both ships. There was one exception though, when one of the times the Drone used its reverse engines and halted just outside the full range of the glory device’s blast radius, and was left with one remaining blob. There was a brief opportunity for the next Shofixti to finish off the underblobbed Drone, but to no avail; it too hastily used the glory device and the next Drone was fully staffed with a plus-one advantage. In fact, I’m halfway tempted to redo the match but change the Shofixti’s setting to “Standard” cyborg, which would disallow the secondary function: the kamikaze bomb. This way the Scout would be forced to rely on its main weapon and forced to take on the Drone and attempt to slip energy darts past the Drone’s cone, without the option of stalemate destruction, which I believe would favor the scout, but… on second thought, that simulation would probably take forever.
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“He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!” ― Khan Noonien Singh

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Re: The Shofixti Scout

Post by The Troglodyte » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:10 pm

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“I Have No Fear Of You, Feeble Mammal.” – Ilwrath
14 Shofixti Scouts (14 x 5 = 70 pts.)
VS.
14 Ilwrath Avengers
(14 x 10 = 140 pts.)
RESULTS: Ilwrath wins with 3 remaining Avengers!
Approximate battle time: 12 minutes

ANALYSIS: Again, just as it was with the Umgah, the Shofixti may have fared better on the Standard Cyborg setting, since although it would’ve been tedious and a very lengthy skirmish, the results would’ve likely been more favorable had the glory device been removed from the equation. But in this case, as it were, the inevitable mammal explosion was always implemented, 14 out of 14 Scouts used their suicide unit for much pleasure for Dogar and Kazon; the only question remaining was whether or not it would drag down the spidery creeps along with them. Fortunately, it was usually easy for the Shofixti to accomplish in depleting over half of the Avenger crew before the need arose for the warriors’ glorious exit. Unfortunately, I had to sit there ever-so-patiently and wait for it all to unfold, which took some time. Another demonstration of an inherent inability for the AI to fully understand its advantage.
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“He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!” ― Khan Noonien Singh

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Re: The Shofixti Scout

Post by The Troglodyte » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:07 pm

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“On my way home, I encountered a VUX Intruder. Before I destroyed it, the VUX was able to affix some of those vile limpet things to my ship, and I had to return home at a greatly diminished speed.” – Captain Tanaka
14 Shofixti Scouts (14 x 5 = 70 pts.)
VS.
14 VUX Intruders
(14 x 12 = 168 pts.)
RESULTS: VUX wins with 10 remaining Intruders!
Approximate battle time: 8 minutes

ANALYSIS: 14 Scouts used 14 glory devices, but why were only 4 Intruders destroyed? This is one match-up that spins the AI programming on its head (and please note when I use the term ‘AI’ it’s to simplify the wording instead of constantly using terms like ‘computer simulation’ or some such, since this is technically not actual artificial intelligence, since it doesn’t have the capacity to experience or learn, so it’s more like a faux artificial intelligence, or an artificial artificial intelligence if you don’t mind the redundancy) and the confusion factor of displaced computational choices creates an unfair advantage for the VUX. I’m no programmer or anything, so I’ll have to rely on simple observation to provide some possibilities in an attempt to explain. In PvC, the approach would be simple: Allow the Intruder to pursue, line up 90° from the target, turn 180°, fire the weapon, recharge and fire until target explodes. In PvP, this becomes far more annoyingly trickier, since the Intruder pilot will not just sit there idly by while the Scout throws dart after dart, nor will it foolishly chase the Scout, so a common strategy for a Shofixti user would be to use hit-and-run tactics while avoiding limpets.

But this is CvC we’re talking about here. Both AIs know the exact dot on the screen where their weapon’s range ends, and likewise, both AIs know the exact range of their secondaries, and both AIs will chase the other, and both will evade when given reason. Therefore, the Shofixti will use its normal tactic: 1) Approach. 2) Fire. 3) Evade. 4) Activate glory device when deemed appropriate. The VUX implements its standard rule: 1) Approach while pointing laser towards target. 2) Release limpets when target moves into range. 3) Anticipate possible turning to compensate for its slow turning rate. 4) Fire. That third one by the VUX is the real kicker! Surprised? Well, remember my simulations with the Arilou Skiff? The Skiff always wanted to get in close enough in for a strafing run, but even as fast as it is, it still couldn’t move fast enough before the VUX would turn and fire the laser, and like I mentioned, it knows the exact moment its vessel makes the turn to the new angle, and when it fires it hits, because it knows precisely when it will hit, so it hits. The Scout found itself in the same predicament, but replace the auto-aim with forward fire and a bomb for the teleporter. Once the crew of the Shofixti was sufficiently depleted, they had little choice but to detonate their bomb before the final blow, but often times the explosion only did marginal damage to the VUX, since they were out of optimal range.
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“He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!” ― Khan Noonien Singh

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The Troglodyte
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Re: The Shofixti Scout

Post by The Troglodyte » Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:33 pm

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“...look... think... act... look... learn... remember... teach... repeat...” – An old Mycon proverb
14 Shofixti Scouts (14 x 5 = 70 pts.)
VS.
14 Mycon Podships
(14 x 21 = 294 pts.)
RESULTS: Mycon wins with 13 remaining Podships!
Approximate battle time: 7 minutes
Glory Devices used: 7 (for 1 kill)
Mycon Crew Regenerations used: 9

ANALYSIS:
Quasispatial wrote:The Podship poses a problem due to its health generation capability. Its health pool is large enough to withstand a Glory Device detonation even at point-blank range, and the damage caused, it can heal.

Yes, this was indeed the case for the poor computer handling the Scouts, your analysis was spot on; the same Mycon kept regenerating their crew faster than the Shofixti could exterminate themselves trying to take their ship down!
Quasispatial wrote:It is possible to whittle down a Podship with the Scout's "primary" armament (in this case meaning the Energy Darts rather than the Glory Device, which seems to be the de-facto primary for many users), but this tactic will often result in the Scout taking a lethal plasmoid hit before it can cause sufficient damage.
The Scouts attempted to stay in the fight by using the energy darts to diffuse the plasmoids (and sometimes took lethal damage when they fired upon the plasmoid at too close of range!) which gave the Mycon time to replenish their crew or charge up for another blast, either of which put the Shofixti on the defense -- a situation they are unaccustomed and ill-fitted to handle; even when they’d get close enough to inflict some damage with their main weapon, they always opted for the “other” main weapon. A bunch of Shofixti hellbent on suicide meant a clear advantage for the Mycon.
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“He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!” ― Khan Noonien Singh

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Re: The Shofixti Scout

Post by The Troglodyte » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:02 pm

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“I see you’re back for even more humiliation, you flatulent, Ur-Quan pus-cup.” – Captain Tanaka
14 Shofixti Scouts (14 x 5 = 70 pts.)
VS.
14 Ur-Quan Dreadnoughts
(14 x 30 = 420 pts.)
RESULTS: Ur-Quan wins with 12 remaining Dreadnoughts!
Approximate battle time: 3 minutes
Glory Devices used: 7
Deaths caused by Divine Wind: 2
Fighters launched: Average ~ 6-8 fighters per Scout

ANALYSIS: EXTERMINATE! Yes, this was an extermination, but that’s not the reason I began the analysis with that emphatic exclamation. “Uh-oh, that probably means Star Control nostalgia time, doesn’t it?” is probably what you’re asking yourself… and you would be right! This match-up was reminiscent of a mission in Star Control 1 called… yep, you guessed it… ‘Exterminate!’ You were given the task of taking down a lone Ur-Quan Dreadnought with a small fleet of Shofixti Scouts before it destroys all Alliance colonies in the sector. You have a Starbase, and you can build mines to produce more scouts (the only ships you can buy in this mission) if you like, but that Dreadnought isn’t going to sit around and let you build up your defenses, so the soundest tactic was to combine your forces and hit it with everything you got! If not, even if you damaged it severely, it can retreat back to its only colony and replenish its crew, and then you’re probably toast with a slather of Shofixti jelly, which by the way makes this a fun mission for playing as the bad guys as well! You can take your Dreadnought and target the nearest colony and then… uh, what? Oh yeah, there’s a battle to analyze! Almost forgot!

For the most part, the Shofixti piloted fairly decently against the Dreadnought, and they were busy dodging Fusion Bolts as they tried to get close enough for self-detonation; quite a few Scouts fell to the blasts before reaching optimal range to yank the bomb lever, but the true hinderance for the Shofixti were the Dreadnought’s Fighters, which were sent in small waves anytime the Scout posed a proximity threat, and their little lasers punished the Scouts whenever they failed to use full thrusters to keep their distance, which weirdly enough happened on several occasions. Any human pilot would put themselves at safe distance and fire upon the nuisance until the Dreadnought eventually becomes too depleted on crew to keep up the effort, but the cyborgified Shofixti really mucks up a simple strategy by reacting to the fighters as if they need to be engaged, and they do so in a dangerous manner by allowing them to get in range by sweeping in and out or moving sideways, subjecting themselves to needless damage. They were lucky to get the 2 kills they did, and the 2nd Dreadnought was actually destroyed by the final Scout… via the glory device, of course.
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“He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!” ― Khan Noonien Singh

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