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Subject: Last Stand at Bethel - A Solo Doomsday AAR rss

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BrentS
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This was my first successful play of the Doomsday Machine solo scenario at Normal difficulty on the large map. I’d played and won after a couple of tries at Easy on the small map but the monster DM’s of this scenario, with B and A ranks, multiple attacks and huge hull sizes were giving me major trouble. I’d tried various tech developments and building up to Battlecruisers in a couple of games but had always succumbed to the first or second DM. Clearly I was doing something wrong! I tried a couple of different strategies this time, which worked a treat. I will summarise them at the end. Run on Vassal to get myself accustomed to the module, and playing Blue, who I imagine to be humankind, with our beautiful homeworld of Terra. I used the base game 20 CP homeworld, tech costs and group counter limitations.

We start quickly out of the blocks with three lucky first Economic Phase colonies close to Terra. We develop out our home system from there and build up full Shipyards at Bethel, adjacent to Terra, and in an advanced position at Vulcan. Our empire is a little skewed, with four colonies in our “eastern” arm and nothing on the other….thankfully this dense cluster of peaceful colonies is untroubled for the duration of the game. Our furthest colonies on the periphery of the “southern” arm, Andromeda and Prometheus, are not so lucky. Unbeknownst to humanity, beyond the desolation of deep space in that direction waits an evil and technologically advanced race that has finally noticed mankind’s first faltering steps into the stars, and is preparing to extinguish our race.

Once our home systems are mined out, our first technological developments are to Movement 2, Ship Size 3 and Exploration, building two single Cruisers to accompany the Miners out into Deep Space, using our new sensors to avoid the many dangers there and to access the rich mineral supplies of the great void, and plowing the resources into military tech development……and a good thing we do! In the deep reaches beyond the southern arm, one of our Cruisers discovers the remains of an alien battle (three Space Wrecks in adjacent hexes) and the Miner he is escorting begins the slow process of towing them back to civilisation one at a time.


Doomsday Machine 1

Economic Phase 8 and the first B9 DM appears at the “5,6” location at the edge of the southern arm. Andromeda will be its target. We build a Base there and 6 Attack 2/Defense 2 Cruisers from the Bethel and Vulcan Shipyards arrive just before the DM. A single Scout, kept in reserve from the start of the game, bravely heads out to meet the DM, successfully skirts the event horizon of a black hole to get there in time and sacrifices himself to discover the DM’s vulnerability to Mines. It is too late to build Mines and get them to Andromeda for the first battle but we develop the tech in Economic Phase 9 so that the Vulcan shipyards can build them for the next battle. I had never previously defeated a DM in a single battle and expect only to damage it and lose Andromeda. In the end we never need to build Mines and the tech expenditure is wasted…..our task force rolls hot, the DM rolls terribly. 2 Cruisers and Andromeda survive (they certainly would have been taken out if they hadn’t rolled a 1 and 2 (needing 3) on their final attack runs!). This is a huge boon as we have surviving ships, our economy is still at full capacity and we have a (very brief) breather. The citizens of Andromeda fought heroically but unfortunately there is to be no peace for them.


Doomsday Machine 2

Economic Phase 10 and the second A10 DM arrives at the “5,6” location again. As it does, the first salvaged Space Wreck is analysed at Prometheus…..Shipyard 1. There are no Scouts in range and one of the exploring Deep Space Cruisers is the only ship available to intercept the DM. Their sacrifice reveals its vulnerability to Large Fleets. I have a long think about what to do here. Do we try to build Scouts or Cruisers? I saved all my CP in Phase 9 and looking at the numbers, I realise we can use our banked resources and upgraded shipyard tech to build a sizeable Cruiser fleet and elect to go for Hull size and strike power over a swarm. We build another 9 Cruisers and get them to Andromeda to reinforce the survivors of the first battle. We have a Base and 11 Cruisers, enough to get Large Fleet advantage if they can survive the DM’s first assault…..which they do, but only just. We now have a Base and 9 Cruisers (one damaged…it was that close) and their return salvo almost eliminates the DM. We lose two more Cruisers before destroying it. The second battle of Andromeda ends in victory for the humans…..and we still have a decent fleet and our full economy. I’m feeling we might just be able to pull it off.


Doomsday Machine 3

Economic Phase 12 and the third A11 DM arrives at the “3,4” location……a real beast and Prometheus will be its target. Our Cruiser fleet heads to the threatened planet while we throw all our production into more Cruisers at the Bethel and Terran shipyards. Once again a brave lone Scout intercepts the DM in Deep Space and reveals its vulnerability……Large Fleets again.

This leaves me with a dilemma. My first instinct is to defend at Prometheus but if we delay and concentrate at Bethel we will have had an additional Economic Phase to produce a single large fleet, to which the 6 shipyards there will provide even greater numbers. We also have another Space Wreck arriving at Andromeda in the next Economic Phase and maybe, just maybe, it will have some war winning tech, like Attack or Defense. The downside is that Bethel is one jump from Terra and throwing all our resources into one pitched battle there is desperately risky…….defeat will leave our homeworld exposed. Abandoning the colonists of Prometheus to a terrible fate also seems morally wrong. In the end, hard heads prevail, we plan the Bethel defense and the fleet departs Prometheus (evacuating all the colonists, I would like to think). Prometheus is destroyed and the DM moves on inexorably toward our core worlds.

The Space Wreck is analysed……Shipyard 2. Not a great deal of use to the fleet, which was in a good position to upgrade at the Bethel shipyards. All remaining CP are thrown into more Cruisers and final preparations are complete. Mankind’s last hope waits defiantly at Bethel….1 Base, 6 Shipyards and 18 Cruisers, enough to ensure at least a few rounds of Large Fleet bonus.

The A11 DM is frightening to behold. I expect the battle to be close but it is a bit of an anticlimax. As per the scenario rules, the DM targets the weakest ships first to get numbers down because of its Large Fleet vulnerability. It needs 9’s to hit the Shipyards and on its first salvo rolls 10’s on two of its six attack dice, leaving two Shipyards intact. Even with the penalties due to its Defense 4, the return 21 dice volley from the fleet scores 8 hits. The DM takes out the remaining Shipyards and one Cruiser but doesn’t stand a chance and the fleet easily scores the last 3 hits required to destroy it, and then some.

Mankind is saved!

I finished with the following technology: Ship Size 3, Attack 2, Defense 2, Move 2, Exploration 1, Mines 1 and Shipyards 2 (courtesy of two Space Wrecks).

For reference, the following is a modified screenshot map of the end game to show the planetary positions, with the ships removed, Prometheus restored and the DM’s placed at their entry positions (sorry, it's been embedded too small to really see clearly……clicking magnification will do the trick).



This was a lot of fun. I’m not a big solo player and this doesn’t prepare you for the strategies of hidden info and bluff when playing with others, but is a great way to internalise the fundamental rules, like movement, exploration, development and combat basics. It also generated surprising tension and narrative and I had a ball with it, not to mention the immense satisfaction of victory. I’m now looking forward to trying the Alien Empire solo scenario.

While I benefited from some lucky dice rolling in combat, there were some strategic initiatives that I think really made the difference this time. I’ve hidden these for others wanting to find their own solutions to these scenarios (I’m sure there are many more).

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Deep Space Exploration: I found that once I’d mined out my home system and my CP development had capped, my production was limited, and started to decrease irreversibly as DM’s ate my colonies, at just the time I was needing more resources. Once my Scouts had explored my home system I was throwing them out to explore Deeps Space but they died too frequently and replacing them constantly was inefficient given the costs and distance from my Shipyards to the frontiers. Investing in cheap Exploration technology and a couple of early Cruisers meant I could safely go out into Deep Space with the Miners and bring back those valuable 10 Minerals…..not as frequently because of the distances involved but it kept up a periodic and much needed CP injection while I was dealing with the big issues. Space Wreck technology is another major and potentially game altering boon. This strategy also left my Scouts free for scouting. I expect this would be even more effective with the additional Miner counters available in the expansion. One intriguing possibility is researching Terraforming technology but I was playing with Barren Planet Aliens this time and I suspect devoting resources sufficient to deal with them would not be possible while they are needed elsewhere for the DM’s bearing down on you.

Scouting: Instead of wasting my initial Scouts in Deep Space when they’d done their home system job, I kept them stationed at the outer borders of my three space arms so that they could intercept each incoming DM and learn their weakness, with one or two Economic Phases to prepare accordingly. I’m not certain that investing in Fighter technology and squadrons would be cost effective for a single DM, but Mines and Large Fleets are certainly very handy to know about in advance. This definitely made a potentially game winning difference for my strategic choices with the last DM this time.

Building Cruiser fleets: I had previously tried upgrading to Battlecruisers and Tactics 2 to get in the first salvo but for this scenario it only affects the first B9 DM and then was just an inefficient waste. For nearly the same bang for buck, Cruisers proved to be the sweet spot for hull size, firepower and cost.

Saving CP: I adopted a policy of waiting for the first DM to arrive before building my main battle fleet. This saves on maintenance and allows one big CP pool for building the right fleet in the right place at the right time. Important for this is to build shipyards early and every Economic Phase, preferably with one in an advanced position, aiming for three at full capacity by the time the DM’s arrive.


Brent.
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BrentS
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Sorry, just realised this is the second AAR of a Doomsday game within a month, making it a bit redundant. I should have checked first.

Brent.
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Shaun Austin
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This was not redundant at all.
I enjoyed having the variety.
Thank you for your time and effort!
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mike m
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very nice write-up, captures the flavor of the game well. thumbsup

Are you rolling for DM location before you take your econ phase or after? I've been playing it that it comes after - mainly bec the DM's turn comes after. This makes a big difference for planning and deploying - you get an extra turn to build properly.

For this same reason, I think of the smaller map as being more difficult. The DM will frequently find your outer colony before you can get your optimal build there. Do you find that outweighed by the harder DM levels?
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BrentS
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SirWashington wrote:

Are you rolling for DM location before you take your econ phase or after? I've been playing it that it comes after - mainly bec the DM's turn comes after. This makes a big difference for planning and deploying - you get an extra turn to build properly.


That's a really good point and an interesting question. Yes, I was rolling for the DM at the beginning of the Economic Phase and it would make a big difference for planning. I don't recall the timing of the DM appearance being specified in the rules. I see your point about the DM's turn coming after the player's but the only things I would say about this are that when playing with other players, Economic Phases are not subject to turn order but played simultaneously and of course DM's don't have Economic Phases themselves. Sounds like you may have been playing at yet another level of difficulty…..Extra Hard! . I'd be curious to know how others play it.

Quote:
For this same reason, I think of the smaller map as being more difficult. The DM will frequently find your outer colony before you can get your optimal build there. Do you find that outweighed by the harder DM levels?


I hadn't really considered that but you're right. Possibly the harder DM's do make it more difficult because it took me more attempts to succeed on the large map than the small one, but that may have been luck.

Brent.
 
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Niko
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The DMs should be appearing at the end of the econ phase.
This thread asks the same question, and while Jim doesn't directly confirm Ægir's answer he doesn't contradict it either.
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BrentS
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Ze_German_Guy wrote:
The DMs should be appearing at the end of the econ phase.
This thread asks the same question, and while Jim doesn't directly confirm Ægir's answer he doesn't contradict it either.


Thanks.

Maybe I got away with a slightly easier ride but I don't see any hard rationale, precedent or confirmation of this, and Jim's silence on that thread doesn't quite constitute a ruling. The scenario rules just say that the DM appears "in" the listed Economic Phase. Jim isn't likely to see this old thread so I might GM him and see if I can get direct official confirmation of it…..and maybe have to head back to the table to do it right

Brent.
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BrentS
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Jim confirmed by GM that the DM does appear at the end of the Economic Phase.

Brent.
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