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Offline Shiver

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Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« on: May 14, 2008, 12:47:18 pm »
This guide is a work in progress. For the time being, the PVP strategy guide will exist as a forum thread. The finished product will be uploaded elsewhere in another format. I am currently seeking input on this project.



The Ur-Quan Masters Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide

Being the obsessed Star Control fan that I am, I decided to write this based upon a lack of useful information on the subject. For those of us who love Star Control but have already beaten the game and crushed the computer in Super Melee a thousand different ways, player-versus-player combat is the only way to go. Online melee became a reality on December 19th, 2006, when it was first implemented into The Ur-Quan Masters version 0.6.0. If you have no experience with net melee but want some pointers before you try it out, here is a good place to start. This guide is also intended as a fix for anyone who is sick of being steamrolled by every player they go up against.



Table of Contents

Fundamentals

Androsynth Guardian

Arilou Skiff

Chenjesu Broodhome

Chmmr Avatar

Druuge Mauler

Earthling Cruiser

Ilwrath Avenger

Kohr-Ah Marauder

Melnorme Trader

Mmrnmhrm Transformer

• Mycon Podship

• Orz Nemesis

• Pkunk Fury

• Shofixti Scout

• Slylandro Probe

• Spathi Eluder

• Supox Blade

• Syreen Penetrator

• Thraddash Torch

• Umgah Drone

• Ur-Quan Dreadnought

• Utwig Jugger

• VUX Intruder

• Yehat Terminator

• Zoq-Fot-Pik Stinger




Credits

A huge thanks to my play-test opponents Elvish Pillager and Gekko. I would also like to give credit to everyone who contributed to the content of this guide in some form or another. The list of minor contributors is as follows:

• Meep-Eep
• countchocula86
• Amiga Nut
• Lukipela
• Alephresh
• AngusThermopyle
• Death999
« Last Edit: September 26, 2008, 07:29:25 pm by Shiver »

Offline Shiver

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2008, 12:48:01 pm »
Fundamentals

Below is a compilation of useful information and tactics that apply during a wide range of different ship-to-ship confrontations.



Natural Intelligence vs. Artificial Intelligence



Star Control's combat AI is fundamentally different from any player you will go up against. The AI's main strength is that its reaction time exceeds human capabilities. This is especially obvious when it is turned up to the "awesome cyborg" setting and given control of a ship that rewards this, such as Pkunk. The many weaknesses of the AI vastly outweigh this strength, however. The AI does not distinguish between different enemy ship types so it doesn't try to exploit its opponent's weaknesses. With only a few rare exceptions, it will use one ship the exact same way in every given situation. This often leads to idiotic behavior such as aggressively chasing after Spathi. The AI will also select which ship it sends into battle at random rather than choosing the most effective counter to what their adversary has in the arena.

The AI is a good for training up to a certain point, but live opponents offer more variety, challenge and fun. No player will be able to match the computer's ridiculous reflexes when controlling Slylandro, but with practice they can get very close. Despite human limitations, an experienced player can become more dangerous even with those fast, dodgy ships simply by using them more intelligently. Reflexes are important in melee, but good tactics count for more.




Initial Selection



When a melee match begins, both players must pick their first ship without knowledge of what the other player is using. The best approach is to use something cheap and crappy that you don't care about losing. If your opponent starts out with Chmmr and you only use Zoq-Fot-Pik, this is actually a good thing. You've only paid out 6 points and now your opponent has one of their best ships set up for you to counter. Gaining initiative is well worth the sacrifice of one weak ship. Zoq-Fot-Pik and Shofixti are the most commonly deployed starters for this reason. Use of slightly more expensive starters such as Syreen and VUX is also frequent, as they are just powerful enough to lay waste to the cheapest of ships without leaving you at a disadvantage afterwards.



Countering



Although the most expensive spacecraft are generally the most powerful, they each have a weakness to at least one ship which costs less. It's good to get in the habit of holding back certain ships until the other player deploys ideal prey. For instance, Orz has this interesting habit of leaving a long trail of death and destruction in its wake. At least that's what happens unless Androsynth shows up in the arena and slices right through it without even trying very hard. Androsynth costs a bit more than half the price of Orz, so if the other player has Orz in their fleet then you need to hold your Androsynth in reserve. Try to hit every ship the other player uses with the most effective counter available.



Mirroring



This is another solution to difficult enemy craft. If someone has a ship out that you have no counters to use against, match them with the exact same ship yourself. If the other player's ship is already damaged, then the odds of winning are in your favor. Conversely, mirroring a ship with full crew is not a wise course of action.



The Arena



This diagram is an approximate representation of the entire melee arena. The arena is the size of four in-game screens zoomed all the way back. Within the arena's confines there are always five asteroids and one planet. If an asteroid is destroyed, it will respawn off camera. Why is this information useful? Because one player will begin searching for the planet immediately during a significant portion of ship-to-ship match-ups. You will find yourself doing this eventually if you have not gotten into the habit already. Even when the planet is not an objective for either player you should constantly be on the lookout for the planet to minimize the chance of crashing into it.



Blind Spots



A ship can only face 16 different directions. If you approach an enemy ship while hiding between their firing lines, they will be unable to hit you. Although this is usually not a major factor, blind spots exist on every ship in the game. If you find that your opponent is approaching along one of your blind spots, it's generally a good idea to reposition yourself so that you have some possibility of landing a hit on the other player. Weapons that fire in a wide spread or automatically home in on their target almost totally negate the presence of blind spots.



Braking



The above header is a bit misleading here; there are no actual brakes in Star Control. If you want to bring your ship to a stop, turn your ship exactly 180 degrees from the direction you're moving in and apply just enough thrust to negate your inertia. Due to differences in acceleration, top speed and ship mass, you'll find that the various warships each require a different amount of thrust to bring themselves to a stop.



Flanking



Flanking is a tactic in which an attacker maneuvers around their opponent's front and strikes them from the side or back where they cannot retaliate effectively. When piloting a fast and agile craft such as the Arilou Skiff, this is the only way to fight. In some situations, a flanking ship can use an enemy's blind spot to help close the distance without being shot at.



Pillboxing



For vehicles with fast turning speed, pillboxing is the best answer to a flanking adversary. To pillbox, simply bring your ship to a halt and then rotate in place so as to lead your opponent with your guns. A stationary craft is difficult to flank, for if it is not traveling in any direction then there is no obvious opening to rush in from.



Asteroids



Asteroids are a minor factor, but never to the point where you can totally disregard their presence. Crashing into an asteroid inflicts no damage, but will bounce your ship away from it. Asteroids exist in Star Control melee to add a random element to combat. It is unusual for a player to win or lose a bout because of an asteroid, but it does happen. Situations where one can actively capitalize on an asteroid are rare, but there is one tactic you can use...



Covered Charge



If you happen to notice an asteroid directly approaching the enemy ship and you're close enough to it, you can hide behind the obstacle and advance under its shadow. An asteroid can only absorb one shot, but sometimes one deflected shot is decisive. This is a tricky and highly situational technique that you won't get to perform very often, it's fun to win by using a stray space rock.



The Planet



Behold the planet. The overlay you see around it shows the area upon which a planet exerts its gravitational pull. The approximate distance that this area extends across is three times the planet's diameter starting from the planet's outer edge. When your ship's center of mass crosses into this boundary, the effects of gravity begin to slowly drag your ship inward. A direct collision with the planet will kill either one fourth of your current crew, or a single crew member if your vessel has very few staff aboard.



Gravity Whip



The above figure demonstrates the ever popular Leyland Gravity Whip, a handy trick that will significantly boost the speed of most spacecraft. To perform this maneuver, accelerate straight through the planet's gravitational field. Once you've left the planet's immediate vicinity, stop accelerating. Using thrust beyond the planet's area of effect will rapidly bring your vessel back down to its default speed. Due to this limitation, a gravity whip can only be used to travel in a straight line. This maneuver has a wide range of applications. The most obvious use of the gravity whip is to send spaceborne artillery such as the Earthling or Mycon careening so that they become much more difficult to engage up close.



Orbiting



Orbiting is a defensive technique with some similarities to pillboxing that allows the player using it to escape by gravity whip at any time, in any direction they want. As you can see from the diagram, orbiting involves placing your vessel in the planet's gravitational field in such a way that you automatically revolve around it. Lots of players seem to have trouble with this, but it's actually fairly easy to do. Remember how to brake? Simply repeat that procedure in close proximity to the planet. As you grind to a halt, your ship will begin to circle the planet on its own. You can adjust your orbit by accelerating very slightly in a given direction, and may need to do so to avoid colliding with the planet itself.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2008, 04:31:33 pm by Shiver »

Offline Bleeding Star

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2008, 01:39:38 pm »
That's a pretty fine guide. The pictures look real nice, too.

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2008, 01:53:43 pm »
Shiver originally made it on the UQM forum, but decided to transfer it to here. He hasn't finished transferring. He had Androsynth, Arilou, and Chenjesu guides.

Offline Shiver

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2008, 02:17:19 pm »
Shiver originally made it on the UQM forum, but decided to transfer it to here. He hasn't finished transferring. He had Androsynth, Arilou, and Chenjesu guides.

Yes indeed. The thing is, playing both sides of every conceivable match-up in Star Control against Elvish Pillager (no other opponent will do) 10-20 times over is extremely draining. I'm trying to decide a good way to shorten the next sections so I actually feel inclined to keep working. They aren't posted because I'm not sure what to cut off or change.

Offline Eth

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2008, 05:16:21 pm »
  Excellent, so far.  The diagrams look good, and communicate clearly.  I'd love to see a sort of "rock scissors paper" guide to which ships are best for beating which other ships. 

jaychant

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2008, 07:47:23 pm »
What about the ship-specific strategies? Have you not read the original over on the UQM forum?

Offline chenjesuwizard

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2008, 09:15:02 am »
All really helped
I'm watching you. I always do. I know your every step. Awake or asleep. I look into your dreams. I see all your emotions, your love, your sorrow, everything around you. I feel your pain and endure it. I can cast the magic of the worlds and destroy everything you see.
This is a burden, and a gift.

Offline Shiver

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2008, 05:23:20 am »
I think I'm just gonna skip on that section then.

EDIT: And POOF, it's gone.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2008, 04:44:59 pm by Shiver »

Offline Lukipela

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2008, 09:25:03 am »
Didn't notice the new section til I started wondering about what you were going to skip. Seems quite helpful, especially the vs. computer bit.
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Offline Shiver

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2008, 05:02:38 pm »
The Androsynth Guardian



Androsynth is versatile and deadly enough to put up a decent fight against almost every ship in Star Control. It is also easily the most overpowered ship in the game when considering its low point value of 15. Androsynth is not the most dangerous combatant, but anything that can outperform it costs quite a bit more. You should always have one of these in your fleet for the purpose of getting the most bang for your buck. You really cannot go wrong with Androsynth.



Primary Function: Acid Bubbles



These adorable little hazards move slowly and erratically in the general direction of the enemy, inflicting two damage each upon contact. They are harmless to the Androsynth that has deployed them. Acid bubbles are insignificant by themselves, but quite lethal as a large cloud.



The Bubble Bath

While acid bubbles aren't used as frequently as the ship's comet form, there are a few enemies which warrant a technique known as the bubble bath. To perform a bubble bath, spam the bubble weapon whenever your opponent draws near and maneuver around to keep the bubbles between them and yourself. You would be surprised how many different ships are unable to break past this defense. Unfortunately, bubble bathing is also considered foul play in many situations because of its tendency to create long, boring stalemates. With that in mind, the bubble bath is best used against speedy opponents that can easily thwart the Androsynth's comet form. These ships are: Arilou, Pkunk, Slylandro, Thraddash and Umgah.



The Bubble Trap

The acid bubble weapon can be used to force an opposing craft to abandon a particular position. If the other player is soaring around on a gravity whip and you want to make them to break off the maneuver, move into their path and drop a large heap of bubbles. This same trick is also a good way to force an opponent to cease pillboxing or orbiting for a time, as they will have to move away to avoid damage. The likelihood of your opponent sustaining damage from this technique is low if they know what they're doing. This is a utility move, not something you win battles with by itself.



Secondary Function: Comet Form



The Androsynth can compact into a tight little ball and launch itself like a battering ram at enemy craft. As questionable as that sounds, it's amazingly effective against a wide range of different enemy craft. A single bump against an enemy ship counts for three damage, but the comet will often crash against its victim's hull multiple times before bouncing off in another direction. Occasionally the Androsynth can even wedge itself into its opponent, destroying them almost instantly. Comet charges are best started when you have a full battery and finished far away from the opponent's position where the other player cannot retaliate while you recharge. The comet form can also be used when your battery is low to make a quick leap away from imminent danger. The turning rate of the comet is rather poor, so whenever you fly past or bounce off a target you should not attempt to turn around for another attack run until you've bypassed them by a reasonable distance. Attempting to turn back around in close proximity to your opponent is a great way to get yourself shot up.



Ideal Purpose

Androsynth is the perfect Orz counter. If your opponent has an Orz in their fleet, hold your Androsynth in reserve until given the opportunity to counter and destroy it.

Androsynth vs. Orz: Your comet form is the perfect weapon for dispatching an otherwise dangerous vessel. Orz marines are killed instantly upon contact with your comet form and the ship itself is not nearly fast enough to evade you. Chase them down and ram into them a few times for an easy win.

When faced with an opponent that has no Orz, think of your Androsynth as a spare that can be used to take out almost anything which you have no specific counter to use against. Here is a list of ships that make good alternate targets for your Androsynth:

• Druuge
• Earthling
• Melnorme
• Spathi
• Supox
• Umgah
• Ur-Quan
• VUX
• Zoq-Fot-Pik




Counters

Slylandro vs. Androsynth: Chase Androsynth around their own bubble cloud and tear them up with your lightning weapon whenever you get within range. It may be difficult to find an opening, but Slylandro is fast enough that it can eventually catch Androsynth unprotected and wear them down. The Androsynth may attempt to comet charge you, but that should be trivial to avoid with your superior speed. You will need to be both aggressive and patient to come out on top.

Yehat vs. Androsynth: Bubbles are a joke against your shield and the comet form is not much better. Chase after the Androsynth and pepper them with your pulse cannons when given the opportunity. As is typical with Yehat, prioritize your shield over your weapon.

Kohr-Ah vs. Androsynth: Drop a few spinning blades nearby and try to time your flamewave ability for the moment the Androsynth's comet form is about to crash into you. Expect them to try and pull a fake-out or two to get you to waste your battery -- it's their only way around the devastating flamewave. If Androsynth does not go on the offensive, they are shooting themselves in the foot; Kohr-Ah excels at long range warfare. Before you send your Kohr-Ah out for this, you should consider your less expensive alternatives.

Chmmr vs. Androsynth: Chmmr can beat Androsynth consistently if you pilot it correctly. This involves flying directly away from the Androsynth at all times, and then turning back around to shred them with your laser once they comet charge you. If you're defensive enough, the Androsynth should never have an opportunity to inflict serious damage let alone wedge itself between the bow and wing of your ship. This counter works, but I don't recommend using it. There are better targets for Chmmr.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2008, 05:24:40 pm by Shiver »

Offline Eth

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2008, 05:12:39 pm »
  Excellent.  One down, a whole bunch more to go.  Keep up the good work, Shiver! 

Offline Shiver

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2008, 05:14:41 pm »
  Excellent.  One down, a whole bunch more to go.  Keep up the good work, Shiver! 

I've got three others already done, I'm just giving people a little time to give input.

Offline Lukipela

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2008, 11:41:02 pm »
I like it. I think your new format is much clearer and easier than the old one. Having all the possible ship combinations in place made each post long, and didn't really add that much. The new format gives a better strategical overlook.

I also like the way you present different options for using the main weapon.

As for criticism of content, I'm not a netplayer so I wouldn't know. Perhaps adding something about how quickly the Guardian depletes it's battery in comet form? If you don't pay attention, you'll risk getting stranded in front of the enemy.
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Offline Shiver

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Re: Player-Versus-Player Strategy Guide
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2008, 06:58:54 am »
As for criticism of content, I'm not a netplayer so I wouldn't know. Perhaps adding something about how quickly the Guardian depletes it's battery in comet form? If you don't pay attention, you'll risk getting stranded in front of the enemy.

Meh. The energy drain of the weapon is extremely generous, but I'll sneak a sentence in there relating to that.