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Pirate Guide (Improved) - 9/26/2016 3:43:54 AM   
NephilimNexus

 

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The original "Pirate Tips" thread grew into a mess over time because things were fixed, broken, and then fixed & broken all over again - and I had to go through and learn & relearn things as this happened. As a result it's far too long & can be confusing. Hopefully this will rectify that.

So you want to play as a pirate faction? Welcome to HARD MODE. It's not easy, but can be very rewarding. You will have a couple of advantages over regular empires, but many more disadvantages as well. Hopefully this guide will help you get the most out of it.
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RE: Pirate Guide (Improved) - 9/26/2016 3:44:10 AM   
NephilimNexus

 

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What Private Sector? Let me begin by pointing out the most difficult aspect of playing as a pirate - that you no longer have a private sector budget. As an empire, every credit of a planet's GDP that you're not collecting in taxes goes straight into the private sector's wallet. This means that all you have to do is tell your construction ships to go place a mine and the cost comes out of that hidden, magical wallet that never seems to run out of cash. Likewise, it's upkeep comes out of that wallet, too. Freighters and mining ships build themselves, and every one that gets built moves money from the magic private sector slush fund into your personal military budget. And they pay for all the upkeep. You don't even have to give build orders - it's all done automatically.

Kiss all that goodbye, buddy. What you're taxing planets is the sum total of your entire budget, for every ship & base, military or civilian. Want a new mining ship? It comes out of your wallet. New freighter? Same thing. New mining base? Ditto. And all the upkeep for all of them is all on you as well. The only mercy in this is that they no longer build themselves. If you can't afford a new freighter then just don't build it.

This means that you're going to be fielding tiny fleets with very few ships, and you won't just be spamming mining centers on every 1% steel asteroid that you come across. Every freighter & base you build better damn well be worth it, because every single credit the cost to build and maintain is all on you.

To this effect I advise the following economic strategy. First, make sure you use your expansion planner to grab the best planets, as opposed to simply whatever is laying close by. By this I mean wait for your scouts to get do their job and find the jackpot worlds. What does that mean? Rock planets can have steel, lead, iridium and gold. Lava worlds can have aculon, osallia, nekros stone and emeros crystal. You want to make sure that you only take the planets that have all four of those resources. They're rare, but they do exist. Make them yours. Likewise, there are some gas giants that will have argon, helium, krypton and tyderos together. What's left? Dilithium and polymer can usually be found on the same ocean planet. All that is left is find a fuel source - caslon or, later, hydrogen.

By holding out for these jackpot planets you can ensure that you have every strategic resource coming in with only five mining bases total.

When it comes to ships you should never need more than three fleets and never more than seven ships per fleet. I will explain this later down the thread but suffice it to say for now that if you've got more than 30 warships in existence at any one time then you are throwing money away for nothing.

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RE: Pirate Guide (Improved) - 9/26/2016 4:02:23 AM   
NephilimNexus

 

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Pirate Bases are how you survive in the beginning of the game, but later on they become a detriment to your progress. The way it works is (assuming you're playing standard pirate with standard base costs) you pay 30,000cr and build a base on a world. Once finished, you will siphon of 10% of it's GDP, just as if you were taxing it, even though you don't actually own the planet. Add a pirate fortress for 100,000cr and this gets raised to 30%. A 30% tax rate is on par with sane tax rates as an empire, though they don't have to dump 130,000cr investment to get there.

Empires will always try to destroy your bases, however, therefore it only practical to place pirate bases on independent worlds, because they don't fight back. You can't see the GDP of an independent world, but you'll still get your cut of it. What is worth noting is that there is a cut-off on building influence. Around 1.5B population merely having ships in orbit will no longer build pirate influence. Past around 3.5B or so even raiding no longer gives you any influence. A planet with a population over 4B is effectively immune to pirate influence entirely. This is worth keeping in mind because after enough time even independent worlds will gain too much population for you to influence. Therefore you need to either act quickly or be ready to rain nukes on planets to bring their population back down to where you can influence them again.

Since empires will try to destroy your bases the only logical reason to put pirate facilities on an empire controlled world would be when you are planning to take it over outright via the Criminal Network, which will run you another 200,000cr on top of everything else. So you're looking at having to earn a positive balance of 330,000cr, after expenses, before your target gets too big to influence. This is not easy and you'll be very grateful that it only needs to be done once. Ideally it should be done to the homeworld of whatever race matches that of your pirate faction. Thus if you are Human pirates, then you want to take over the Human homeworld with a criminal network.

Once this is done the planet is now officially yours, and you should scrap both the network and your pirate bases. Why? Because now that 30%+ "corruption" tax is no longer going into your wallet. Instead it's just bleeding it out into the nearest black hole. That's right, they're no longer earning you money - they're costing it. I'm not sure if this is a bug or not, but since development support for this game has long since ended, it's just how it works and there is no sense in protesting the sheer illogic of it all. Keep that in mind for any other planets you properly conquer later. Once you actually own a planet your pirate bases are a liability.

However, getting a homeworld of your own is essential for moving forward and should be the number one priority of every pirate until that goal is achieved. You can continue placing pirate bases on independent worlds afterward, but that first planet taken over is most important task you have, because doing so ensures victory and failing to do so ensures defeat. Plus having pirate bases creates such a massive boost to the "ceiling" of your research points that you probably will never actually hit that ceiling no matter how hard you try.

Also, you can build cheap defense platforms over independent worlds and I highly suggest doing exactly that. First, it lets you take any defense mission contracts that they post completely risk free. Second, it usually keeps empires from colonizing it (however in large games AI colony ships will magically slip past when you're not looking). Third, it keeps rival pirates from screwing with it. You can also build cheap defense platforms over empire homeworlds and I suggest doing that even more. Once you've destroyed their homeworld spaceport you should immediately send your construction ship there (with escort) and build a defense base on top of it. Doing this will effectively take that empire out of the game entirely. From that point forward any time they try to build a space port or construction ship, it won't get past the first build cycle before your defense base blows it away. You may not have enough army troops to conquer them just yet, but so what? They're not going anywhere. Take your time.

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RE: Pirate Guide (Improved) - 9/26/2016 4:14:11 AM   
NephilimNexus

 

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Neutrality and civilian are one of your small advantages. While empire ships fly the colors of their empire, pirate civilian ships always say "neutral smuggler" to everyone but their owners. This means that you never have to worry about any of your freighters, mining ships, passenger ships or resorts coming under attack until very late in the game (when the AI researchers trace scanners). For this reason you can afford to skimp or even skip such quibbles as shields, armor, or weapons when designing these units.

Also, you always want to design all your own ships and bases. Stock designs are all based on empire play and do not reflect pirate strategies at all. You will need boarding pods, and lots of them. You will need to go into empire settings and make sure that your ships have orders not to use them unless manually told to do so (this is by far the best way to avoid the dreaded boarding-pod bug). In those settings you will also want to set standing orders to automatically scrap useless ships and to automatically retire anything with technology that you can steal. You will want to put weapons, shields, and mining equipment on your construction ships (one fighter bay can hold off an army of kaltors). You will want to make sure that you do not have luxury extractors on anything, because that's just a waste of your time (if you really want a luxury resource, just conquer a planet that has it and let your freighters do the rest). You want to make sure that your raiding ships have hyperdeny. You want your explorers and starports to have long range scanners. You want to make sure you've got repair bots in everything and that every last unit of space on your ships is filled with something. There is a lot of micromanagement involved with playing as a pirate, and your success is pretty much a linear parallel to how many settings you keep on manual.

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RE: Pirate Guide (Improved) - 9/26/2016 4:26:23 AM   
NephilimNexus

 

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Contracting into an early grave is a mistake that is easy to make. Your typical destroy contract won't even pay for one year's worth of upkeep for a single ship. Defense missions are best handled by defense bases instead of actual ships. Smuggling missions can screw you over big time if you're not careful. The reason is that planets you own will go ahead and make private shipping offers for needed materials whether you want them to or not, and like everything else that comes out of your budget. A freshly conquered planet demanding goods can easily put a minus sign in front of that 30,000cr you had saved up in one second flat. For this reason you should make a point to not raid planets right before conquering them. Likewise you should make sure that anything you take as a smuggling mission is something that you really do have a large surplus of, because if you don't then you will actually lose money. Your smugglers will grab everything they can with no regard for your own planet's needs, then go off to sell it. Your planet, now freaking out because all of whatever is now gone, will respond by placing a massive buy order for that material. That buy order will be an order of magnitude larger than whatever measly profit your smuggling ships might be making. Equally annoying is that for gas missions (caslon/hydrogen) they will most happily suck your supply dry and leave your own ships stranded with no fuel.

The best contracts, then, are defense missions for independent worlds where you already have a pirate fortress & a defense platform over it (at which point they're just free money, really). Second is any very large destroy missions for space ports that you were already planning on destroying anyway (if it's going to take your fleet six months each way just to get there, it's not worth it any more). Third is smuggling missions of things you are certain to have a surplus of, such as caslon gas after you've switched all your ships over to using hydrogen power.

Also be wary of protection agreements with empires. While they seem tempting and look like free money, they're a double-edged sword. While under that agreement they can and most certainly will direct their colony ships towards those independent planets with your bases on them, and your defenses won't do a thing to stop them. Also protection agreements don't apply to pirate bases, meaning when they send in fifty tank battalions to wipe out your pirate bases that's not considered to be a real attack. And when making treaties with other pirates that is also true - they most certainly can and will use that opportunity to raid all your planets, destroying your bases and replacing them with their own and it is never considered to be a violation of the truce. Stupid, but that's how it is. For these reasons I advise against ever making any truces with anyone unless you're serious desperate for cash.

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RE: Pirate Guide (Improved) - 9/26/2016 4:37:59 AM   
NephilimNexus

 

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Proper planning is everything and how you set up your game is a major factor in whether you win or lose as a pirate. So in the opening settings you're going to want to make sure that you've checked "destroyed pirates don't respawn" because otherwise you're just Sisyphus. Space monsters can be whatever you like, they're not a big deal and even your starting ships can handle anything less than a silver mist cloud. Generally a larger galaxy is better, because you start with a speed advantage and having more room to grow before encountering rivals helps. Pirates generate a lot of corruption over distance, so starting in the center seems like a good choice but a corner can work, too, if you play your three regional capitols right later. Speaking of regional capitols: Though you can only build three, you can own as many as you want. Conquering enemy regional capitol worlds should therefore be a very high priority. You will want to make sure that independent worlds can not form empires (seriously, that's pretty much suicide right there). Go with the lore and make all your empire rivals pre-warp civilizations, and make sure the race that matches your own is nearby so you can criminal network their homeworld first thing. The final and by far most important setting is tech costs, which need to be as high as possible. 480K or even manually enter it higher.

The reason is that the only major advantage that pirates have is that they have no real discernible cap on how many research points they can crank out at once, unlike empires which are limited by their total population size. Therefore while needing millions of research points to the next gizmo may seem like a lot, it's something you can do in less than a century and none of the empires can. The higher the tech costs the longer your initial advantage lasts and the greater the lead you'll gain over time once you've got a few giant research stations built. It is entirely possible that you'll be using torrent drives before anyone else is has even reached gerax hyperdrives.

< Message edited by NephilimNexus -- 9/26/2016 4:38:17 AM >

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RE: Pirate Guide (Improved) - 9/26/2016 4:51:03 AM   
NephilimNexus

 

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Doing it by the numbers your game should go like this:

1) Immediately pause the game and pick out some techs to research, then send your two raiding ships to any nearby independent worlds to start building influence. Order your resupply ship to the homeworld of your own chosen race to destroy their opening space port before it can even get started.

2) Build 3 ore & 1 gas mining ship for your first construction cycle. Your second construction cycle should be 4 raiding ships loaded with assault pods.

3) Send your construction ship to the target homeworld and build a defense base over it, just to make sure.

4) Deploy your raiding ships as individuals, not fleets, with one ship per independent world. If you have more targets than ships then build more ships, but again, no more than one per planet. If rival pirates are a problem you can group up until they're drive off, but that is only a temporary thing. Raiding ships are to build influence quickly.

5) If other empires are about consider selling "secret locations" to them for 25K each. This is because you'll need a lot of credits & fast, but you don't want to sign any icky treaties with them. Or, if you're feeling daring, capture mining bases in their home system and sell the bases right back to them. Yes, this works.

6) Concentrate on juggling the need to build pirate bases with the need to save up 130,000CR to get a pirate fortress down on your future homeworld before it's population gets too high to keep under control. Do not start at 30,000CR and wait to get the other 100K. Wait until you've got the full 130K before starting. In this way you will be on your way to saving up for the criminal network before your first two bases are even finished building. The key here is to get all three down as quickly as possible, because the AI will try to destroy your bases if you wait too long. Once you have the fortress under construction stop building anything and focus entirely on raising cash through raiding & diplomacy. You want to be at or at least close to that 200K mark the moment the fortress is done building.

7) Once you've got the criminal network done and own the planet, you can build a space port there. Once the space port is finished, make it your new HQ, move all your characters there, and scrap your old starting space port. Be sure to scrap all the pirate buildings on your new homeworld, too. About a 20% tax rate is probably as good as you're going to get for now. Once the space port is finished scrap the defense base.

8) Now you want to fleet together your ships and knock down the space ports of an other empire in the area, then lock them down with a defense platform to keep them down until you can afford to raise a ground army to conquer them (it will be a while). You may now continue your expansion of pirate bases until you've got a good income.

9) Once income is good, build a small science station and research nukes. Build a few bombers and 6-8 infantry. Bombs enemy empire homeworlds until all defending troops are dead, then invade & autowin. Repeat with every empire until you've won the game.

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RE: Pirate Guide (Improved) - 9/26/2016 5:09:07 AM   
NephilimNexus

 

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Little tips for the truly devious and/or anal. Colony ships pose a problem for pirates, as colonies actually have negative income until they reach at least 1.5B, which takes way too long for my taste. Plus getting an owned world past 20% tax without rebellion isn't ease, while a pirate fortress on an independent world will get me 30% of their GDP and I don't have to screw with it. Solution is simple: Build and send colonization ships out as normal, with escort of raiding ships. The moment the planet is colonized I raised the tax rate to 100%. This causes the planet to instantly go into rebellion and by the end of the month they will have "overthrown your oppressive rule and declared themselves independent." At which point my raiders very quickly raise my influence, then slap on some pirate bases and forget about it.

The Science Center and Spy Academy do nothing for pirates, so don't waste your money on them.

Since you're going to be wiping out defenders with orbital bombardment before invading anyway, why not just use robot troopers? They're cheap.

Sending spies to steal technology is a waste of good spies. At best they'll just a fragment of the tech and have pathetic success rate even with 100% skill. Just use your raiders on some fringe outpost and get the whole tech level all at once and with no risk.

If a planet has a habitability below 60% just wipe it out. It's not worth taking.

A defense platform next to a planet destroyer project will kill so many enemy construction ships it's not even funny after a while.

Whenever you take an enemy empire's last planet (or destroy it) you inherit all their stuff and that's a problem. Sudden massive spike in expenses from hundreds of completely useless ships. So the moment you take them down once & for all, pause the game, go to your ship inventory menu and go on a scrapping/retirement spree ASAP. Even worse is when they all decide to upgrade themselves. Get rid of it ALL. You don't need their theirs ships, their miners, their freighters, their explorers, their mining bases, none of it. It's all junk and it's all costing you precious credits. Ditch it fast.

Area transit singularity is the ultimate defensive weapon. Put on your explorers and make them your primary defense gun for space ports. It's obnoxious what six or seven of them firing at once can do to an entire enemy fleet at one time.

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RE: Pirate Guide (Improved) - 9/27/2016 4:07:29 AM   
johanwanderer

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: NephilimNexus
The final and by far most important setting is tech costs, which need to be as high as possible. 480K or even manually enter it higher.


I can't stress this enough. My current series (see signature) I have tech set to around 60K or so, and the empires become the main force very quickly. Couple that with my inability to generate income from owned worlds, and I find myself struggling constantly to swat down spaceports and other things.

_____________________________


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RE: Pirate Guide (Improved) - 3/5/2017 9:01:32 PM   
pumkinfacer22

 

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if you aren't so great at generating income, Build 50 Mining ships, the cheapest you can get, costing 700 or less each with no armor,shields,or anything they don't need. (one thruster etc..) and let them have at it..

you need resources, and tons of them so the the other empires buy from you and also you can do the pirate missions..

you also tech-trade or sell info..


spaceports a problem? build 15 Escorts with nothing but just 1 carrier bay on them each and have 15-20 of them attack the spaceport set to "Stand off" or "Evade" ...

just a few quick things I"ve been doing..

I also make my gas mining stations have 1-3 construction yards so they can repair damaged ships..

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