Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ancient Space - Mission Walkthroughs Index and General Tips

Ancient Space game - Walkthrough Index and General Tips
  • We played the Explorer Scientist "story-driven" difficulty level. (The higher difficulties are Marine Officer and Admiral of the Fleet, where even Mission 1 is challenging).
  • We strived for no unit losses.
  • We tried not to use Officer powers.
  • Our doctrine is to fully secure a Sector (all Stations, wipe out all enemies, collect all Discoveries, do all optional missions) whenever possible before advancing the plot by completing story-essential mission objectives.

General Notes
Ancient Space is one of those games where you will want to consider carefully whether to be led by the nose and prioritize mission objectives.
  • The missions appear designed for the lowest level of difficulty ("story-focused experience") to be stressful in an exciting way IF you do what they tell you to do and don't take a broader view. If you are not intent on playing a high difficulty level or thoroughly getting every one of the Discoveries that can be collected, you can try it this way.
  • On the other hand, if you stay alert for possibilities the possibilities in a mission are broader and the overall experience could be boringly easy -- which nevertheless makes for a certain satisfaction at being "tactically genius".
    • Also, if you want every scrap of story, then you will want to collect every Discovery because about a third of them give hints of backstory and can deepen and enrich your story experience.
  • If you want to pull your hair out trying to keep all your units alive, then try middle difficulty.
  • If you like failing over and over again even during early "tutorial" missions, then go for hardest difficulty.
Although we are told to direct the proper units to counter enemy units, this is inferior advice. The enemy always has an interesting ship you will want, and you have two Boarding options to steal them.

The Ulysses offensive setup/configuration has a Boarding ability that is short range but instant and which lets us basically steal enemy ships. This has many possibilities:
  • Bases cannot be stolen but just about everything else can, including Small squadrons of ships.
  • It is basically an instant death ray with a long cooldown. If your population cap (Replicant Count) is not sufficient, the unit is disabled and grayed out but can still be manually targeted for repair or boarded later with a Corsair.
  • You can steal something and recycle it for resources.
  • The key use, however, is to build-for-free ships that are better than yours.
The offensive configuration is recommended for most missions on Normal Difficulty for the simple fact that you can start off early by stealing enemy ships to bolster your fleet without spending resources on building ships or researching technology.

Starting with Mission 3 you will be able to build Corsairs. 2-4 are recommended in every fleet as they have a similar "death ray" Boarding power although they will need to be supported with Repair while the boarding process continues (which can take a long while against an XL-sized Manowar). You can abort at any time by moving away. Squadron-type ships cannot be boarded but Bases can.

Since we can steal enemy ships (and recycle our own to make room for them in the fleet) we recommend that you aggressively replace your small squadron ships with Medium or Large ships that can fulfill the same function. For example, Lancers are good against Small units but I would rather drop a Lancer and a Rover for a single pirate Cutlass which is good against Small units and also has Rover functions of Repair and capturing bases. I would also drop Invaders for Cutlasses since Invaders are fragile and have a cooldown on their Missile Barrage whereas a few Cutlasses, having all their health on a single ship and being able to Repair each other, can survive much longer.

If you Board an enemy ship that can Cloak, they may do so automatically during the Boarding process because after an idle period, Stealth ships automatically cloak. In such a case, if you then have to abandon the ship because you do not have enough Replicants to take it over, it will remain cloaked and you cannot interact with it anymore until you decloak it, such as with a Bloodhound squadron.

You will be introduced to more and more types of Stations through the early missions. In the general case however, build only Artillery, especially if you can support them with Repair ships. Artillery is not powerful against Small ship squadrons, but the splash from their shots adds up to decent damage anyway and Small ship squadrons lose effectiveness as you destroy individual craft, so even a little damage adds up whereas damage against larger vessels do no not hamper them until they are destroyed. Artillery also have a special ability to inflict area damage good against all targets, whereas Turrets can slow a target. Consider Repair Stations only if you need them to help hold a position or if they can repair a nearby Station.
Protective and Repair Stations can't fight back so they are sitting ducks if they approach from a direction your Artillery Stations can't reach. In general, they are not so commonly useful especially since Stations are more or less expendable assets that can be rebuilt later. The main exceptions to this approach:
  • If you know from which direction the opposition will come and the Station under fire first can be supported by one or more Repair Stations. This gives you the opportunity to hold the area without requiring any Repair ships. Obviously the opposition must be light enough that they cannot ultimately win with attrition.
  • If multiple Stations are close by, you could have two or even three Repair Stations supporting the rest as well as each other -- again, helping you keep the area secured without any ships from your fleet.
Enemy Stations, especially those supported by Protection and Repair, are extremely annoying to take down directly except with Corsairs or other ships that can Board. A Boarding action ignores special statuses on the target AND neutralizes the target while it is being boared. Therefore, have a squadron of 2-4 Corsairs to swarm a position and neutralize their Artillery, Turrets, and dangerous ships. Once attack Stations like Turrets and Artillery are destroyed or taken over, enemy defensive Stations become essentially harmless.
If a Corsair captures a Station with something on it you don't like, remember you can instantly recycle it. Corsairs can capture (and immediately neutralize by starting a Boarding action) Hangar Stations, but they are destroyed upon successful capture and the Station is occupied but empty and ready to build.

If you have the luxury of time, then Javelins (possibly with scouting action by cloaked Scouts) can take down a Station by attrition from afar. It is very slow, however -- about 3 health every two volleys of two shots (when stationary).

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