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Rushing Strategy

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:06 am
by Darvin3
Recently I've been playing around with rushing in Polaris Sector. Rushing is a highly effective strategy because it takes centuries for your initial colonies to grow into economically developed planets like your homeworld, but a quick invasion can give you a second fully-developed homeworld instantly which provides an immediate influx of resource income, research, and production facilities to make ships. The AI virtually never has ground forces on its homeworld within the first 100 years, giving you an ample window of opportunity to claim the planet with an unopposed landing (thus avoiding any damage to its economic infrastructure). Once a race loses its homeworld that early, they're essentially crippled and you can take your time to mop them up and claim all their colonies, which makes up for all the colonies you didn't found due to building military ships instead.

Basically, if you can pull it off a rush is a no-downsides strategy. The key is finding a way to do it consistently, as a failed rush can leave you in a very bad situation. I started my tests on small but densely packed scenarios (10 races 100 planets) to confirm that the basic premise worked, and it did. So I then graduated to more standard settings with the hope of finding ways to make it work. I'm interested to hear if other people have done something similar, or if they have ideas on how to make this rush even better.

Here's the breakdown of what I did:

Fireball Accelerator
The fundamental idea of the rush is to prey on the fact that the default weapons you get at the start of the game suck really hard, so priority research into a stronger weapon can give you a decisive advantage in fleet battles. With a long-range weapon you can kite enemy corvettes, snipe cruisers and satellites, and fighters are very weak this early and can be easily mopped up by a corvette with lasers. As a result, with the right weapon you can conquer an enemy race with a single corvette.

The Fireball Accelerator (or FBA as I'll call it for short) happens to have the perfect combination of qualities for this rush. It appears relatively early in the tech tree, has decent damage, and has the range to snipe cruisers and satellites like I need it to. This slight range advantage lets it do what the Heavy Ion Gun (which can be selected as a racial bonus) cannot. At the start of the game you'll want to prioritize Quantum Forging (or Zeptosensation if you're Lumens) and then once that tech comes in you want to prioritize the FBA.

Speaking of the Heavy Ion Gun, I do think it works as a great rushing option but it's less effective as an all-in option since you need to bring both a strike corvette and a carrier corvette to make it work consistently. This increases the amount of military ships you need to produce, and can complicate the rush if the extra ship means your fuel tanker is no longer in range of the enemy homeworld. It works extremely well on small scenarios (10 races 100 planets) but struggles as the galaxy size scale increases.

Race Selection
A total of six races get the FBA, but they all require different amounts of research points to get it. The following races get the FBA, and this is how much research is necessary to do it:

Magellans (326)
Lumens (545)
Drill (572)
Sharatar (585)
Urgen (613)
Vagalar (614)

In terms of racial bonuses and penalties, the most important thing is that you don't have a research flexibility penalty. In every case above you will need to swing from fundamental science to applied science, so a research flexibility penalty just kills the strategy. You also want to avoid a morale penalty, as that will increase unrest on your newly conquered planets and require more surface garrisons. Ferrying ground troops this early is actually a big deal, so the fewer ground troops you can get away with the better.

Fuel Tanker Opener
I never thought of building a fuel tanker near the start of the game until I was looking for a way to support my rush strategy, but it's really effective and well worth the time spent to churn it out. Because it needs to pull double-duty as your scout you'll want to fit it with a cargo hold to pick up the resource piles you may find (which you definitely need) and you'll also want it to have around 50k worth of fuel reserves so it can reliably escort your corvettes to the enemy homeworld.

What makes the fuel tanker so nice is that it can escort your colony ships to greatly extend their range, letting you bring them to hard-to-reach locations without having to wait for a specially-modified colony ship with extra fuel to be produced. This lets you access hard-to-reach earthlikes, which in turn allows you to explore further afield since you have a nice refueling point. Do remember you need to be back for when your corvette finishes so you can escort it for the rush.

Finding Victims
I've found that you usually will find a victim early enough for the rush to go ahead with predictable timing. Good exploration technique is definitely required here, so having that experience under your belt is important. Certainly for non-Magellan races you're pretty much guaranteed to find your victim before you're ready to go, but for Magellans the tech can sometimes come in too early and you haven't located a proper victim yet. I've yet to seen the rush completely fail on account of this, but it has occasionally slowed it down so that I've lost the entire Magellan advantage and the rush is coming out at the same time it would for a non-Magellan race.

The one dealbreaker, however is if your only neighbor is the Lumens. Successfully invading a Lumen colony simply destroys it rather than capturing it, which defeats the entire purpose of the rush. If your particular galaxy layout has you completely boxed in by that one rival race, that leaves you without any other option. You can still wipe them out to give yourself more space for expansion, but it means you won't be making up all the economic opportunity lost due to your initial military expenditure.

Invasion Ship
About 10 years prior to the FBA priority tech coming in, you want to start building your invasion ship and marines. The goal is to start production on your corvette immediately after the tech comes in and have your invasion ship ready to go the moment it completes. I experimented with pre-building a Corvette and then retrofitting it after FBA comes in; that works well for non-Magellans, but for the Magellans their tech comes in so early that their window of opportunity is quite forgiving and I feel more colony ships so you can explore more aggressively (more colonies = more fueling points = less backtracking for your scout) is the better approach for them.

Once your corvette is done, you want to build a second invasion ship to ferry more marines to your new conquests. You'll be snapping up lots of planets and will need lots of garrisons to keep them from revolting. After that, building a second Corvette for defense or more colony ships takes priority.

Homeworld First
This is perhaps the most important part of the rush: ignore every other planet, just go straight for their homeworld. Taking another planet will slow down your rush immensely due to having to ferry in more troops for an invasion of the homeworld, giving the AI time to react to your invasion. You want to just ignore everything and blow past its frontier worlds and bee-line straight for that homeworld. Just before your final jump to reach the homeworld, split your fleet. Send the corvette ahead of the fuel tanker and invasion ship, then after giving it a small headstart send the freighters after it. When the corvette arrives at the enemy homeworld immediately declare war to destroy the orbital defenders. Your freighters will then arrive a few moments later (having missed the battle and thus not risking being sniped by fighters) and you can invade the planet.

Surprisingly, winning the fight is the easy part of this whole strategy. I've found this rush, if executed correctly, consistently hits early enough that the AI is largely unable to fight back. The tricky part is in the early exploration phase, and in the stabilizing of your rather unstable economy afterwards. You also need to be careful not to let you new colonies revolt, and that means churning out police quickly at the newly captured colony.

Each race's homeworld always has the same name, so it's easily identifiable by name. Here's the full list by race:
Sharatar - Sharatar
Humans - New Earth
Elrians - Shine
Magellans - The Home
Drills - Drillhome
Gavakens - The Nest
Logans - The Dump N33
Vagalars - The Holy Pit
Urgans - Urgany
Lumens - Light Primo

(note that the name of the system the planet is in is random, so you can't use that locate them)

In Closing
Well, that wall of text ended up longer than I expected, but I think it's a rather cool strategy, and I'm very curious to see if other people are doing similar things or if there's an option I've missed that would make this strategy even deadlier. Or another weapon that works similarly. For the record, I've been running my tests on challenge difficulty without any save scumming

Re: Rushing Strategy

Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:43 pm
by solops
What difficulty level are you playing?

Re: Rushing Strategy

Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:43 pm
by solops
What difficulty level are you playing?

Re: Rushing Strategy

Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:53 pm
by Darvin3
Challenge difficulty, no save scumming (except for bugs).

No point in rushing on standard difficulty, since most of the time you can just tech for atmospheric domes then win domination victory by pumping out colony ships really fast :P

Re: Rushing Strategy

Posted: Wed May 02, 2018 2:00 am
by mbpopolano24
Is it turn-based?

Re: Rushing Strategy

Posted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:09 am
by gjajd
The invasion ship was the most unique