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Subject: Advanced Robotics or Improved Hull rss

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Ian Allen
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In round one, you are lucky enough to be presented with this choice and can afford either one or the other with relative ease. There is only a single copy of each.

What do you take, and why?

The free action is hot especially in round one, but that allows your neighbor to pick up the shields (and potentially use them against you). And how useful are those extra actions if you get surrounded by ancients and can't quickly field a squad to take them out? IH can be hard to pick up as well if everybody else is waiting for it in the next few rounds. Same can be said for adv robotics.

I can see the immediate onboard advantage of IH, but still conservatively lean towards Adv. Robotics and using the extra flexibility to adapt.
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Chris K.
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daggaz wrote:
In round one, you are lucky enough to be presented with this choice and can afford either one or the other with relative ease. There is only a single copy of each.

What do you take, and why?

The free action is hot especially in round one, but that allows your neighbor to pick up the shields (and potentially use them against you). And how useful are those extra actions if you get surrounded by ancients and can't quickly field a squad to take them out? IH can be hard to pick up as well if everybody else is waiting for it in the next few rounds. Same can be said for adv robotics.

I can see the immediate onboard advantage of IH, but still conservatively lean towards Adv. Robotics and using the extra flexibility to adapt.


Generally I would favor Improved Hull.

That said, most Races cannot afford Advanced Robotics in Round 1, so we are probably talking round two and you should already know at least 2 or 3 of your direct hexes and your neighbor's hexes. If, and only if, all of these are clear of Ancients and there are no connections to your neighbors at all I would consider getting the extra action instead.

Basically the extra Action gains you about 6-9 money over the next three turns in savings. Improved Hull is generally more important than that and by the end of those three turns you will probably have gotten advanced robotics from another round.

YMMV depending on Race. Eridani should go with the extra Action pretty much all the time, for instance.
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Ian Allen
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Yeah, I'm often too conservative and my initial thoughts were with IH as well. I left it as a general question in order to pick at the intrinsic value of the two technologies especially regarding early game development, but you are right that species limitations and consequent board development as such are important consideration.


I'm not sure I agree with the phrasing of "saves you 6 to 9 money", though. It doesn't just save you money per se (it does do this), it allows you to take actions that you could never have afforded otherwise. That's an action every round for the first few rounds at least, or a couple IF you save that money. You get more actions out of it if you use them than if you save them, but then you can ask if they are lots of cheaper actions vs a smaller but important action boost in R3 or 4... or perhaps getting some key moves in those first few rounds keeps you from needing that boost..

Either way, these are actions that you can't choose to use by paying "a higher price". Doing so will immediately end your game. Subtle but important enough to put the emphasis where it belongs.
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Chris K.
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daggaz wrote:
Yeah, I'm often too conservative and my initial thoughts were with IH as well. I left it as a general question in order to pick at the intrinsic value of the two technologies especially regarding early game development, but you are right that species limitations and consequent board development as such are important consideration.


I'm not sure I agree with the phrasing of "saves you 6 to 9 money", though. It doesn't just save you money per se (it does do this), it allows you to take actions that you could never have afforded otherwise. That's an action every round for the first few rounds at least, or a couple IF you save that money. You get more actions out of it if you use them than if you save them, but then you can ask if they are lots of cheaper actions vs a smaller but important action boost in R3 or 4... or perhaps getting some key moves in those first few rounds keeps you from needing that boost..

Either way, these are actions that you can't choose to use by paying "a higher price". Doing so will immediately end your game. Subtle but important enough to put the emphasis where it belongs.


That is true, however if you are playing with the turn order variant (as you should, in my not so humble opinion ;-) ), these extra actions also mean late passing, so you are unlikely to get good picks on tech. It's a bit of a hidden opportunity cost.

My personal preference in R3-5 (after the initial exploration flurry) is to only do few actions to make sure I get the necessary tech to deal with my situation.
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Art Entre
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I look at it as which would I rather get assuming I never have a chance to get them again (and which would I rather my neighbor not have). In which case the answer is Improved Hull. The early combat advantage against ancients and neighbors trumps the extra actions.

Chances are they'll come up again at some point in the game. So if you're the gambling type, then Advanced Robotics turn 1 followed by Improved hall in turn 2-3 would likely be better, but that's not me.
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Riku Riekkinen
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In general I would go for Advanced Robotics. Advanced Hull is ok in very high density ancients starts. Otherwise AH gets old pretty quick, while AR gets even stronger towards the end.
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Ian Allen
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Riku Riekkinen wrote:
In general I would go for Advanced Robotics. Advanced Hull is ok in very high density ancients starts. Otherwise AH gets old pretty quick, while AR gets even stronger towards the end.


I've been running a number of simulations and I start to tend towards this as well, albeit my simulations do not include an aggressive neighbor which is a very valid point in the argument: do you want IH or do you want them to have it?

But otherwise, unless you are really "unlucky" in your draws, its not that common to be completely hemmed in by ancients during the initial exploration phase, whereas in order to build your economy, you really need some breathing room to take in a non-economy system without hitting a 2-action limit. Adv. Robotics gives you 4 actions instead of 3 and if you splurge on a sci/mat double planet system, you are down to 3.

One also has to keep in mind, that with this offer, you have to make the choice to research before you can explore and uncover ancients or not, so best to go with the odds..

These actions also mean you can pass early, nab some tech the next round or two, and have the wiggle-room to field an upgraded attack-squad against the best ancient system in the case that you have a target by R3.


I gotta say, I've been on the fence a bit on this, hence the thread. I think I do lean towards Adv Robotics, with the caveat that if my nearest neighbors are aggressive players/species, I would probably take IH to deprive them of the local advantage.

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Jan-Willem van Leeuwen
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I would always take Improved Hull. This is critical to take down ancients, giving you a discovery and a good system. In the long run, you will probably need it in PvP combat. Advanced Robotics is of course great too, but not as good as IH.

One exception could be if my race heavily favors investing in the bottom tech row (e.g. starting with a tech giving a discount on that row).
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Peter Bakija
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daggaz wrote:
In round one, you are lucky enough to be presented with this choice and can afford either one or the other with relative ease. There is only a single copy of each.


Given that most races can't really afford Advanced Robotics on T1, and Improved Hull is cheap and incredibly useful throughout most of the game, I'd go with Improved Hull.

Advanced Robotics is very strong (as extra actions are good), but it is likely to show up again in the next couple turns, when it is easier to afford. Improved Hull is super good for fighting Ancients. And also your neighbors. But a 1st turn Improved Hull has never done anyone wrong in this game, while a 1st turn Advanced Robotics is likely to cost you a bunch of bad trading on the 1st turn, which isn't optimal most of the time.
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Ian Allen
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Hydran can afford it with ease, as can Eridani (who are strongly motivated to pick it up) and the Magellan, who can use the action saved to flip one of their colony ships, thus allowing at least one cube to be placed in R1.

Not sure about some of the newer races, don't have those expansion packs.

Obviously in a standard game most of the players cant afford it, and that discussion is interesting (and more than welcome here if you ask me), but I worded the OP as I did to get a sense of the intrinsic value of the techs. And also because the Hydran Progress shall RULE THE GALAXY!

As it stands, both techs are likely to show up again in later rounds, and both are equally likely to be snatched up ASAP again.
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Peter Bakija
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daggaz wrote:
Hydran can afford it with ease, as can Eridani (who are strongly motivated to pick it up) and the Magellan, who can use the action saved to flip one of their colony ships, thus allowing at least one cube to be placed in R1.


Oh, sure, but of those:

-Hydra is much better off getting Improved Hull and something else cheap on the first turn instead of just getting Advanced Robotics.

-Eridani can do this, but they are much better off getting Research Station and then Quantum Grid (and if those aren't on the table on the first turn, why are you being Eridani in the first place?).

-Magellan only start with 2 science, and Advanced Robotics costs 6. So it'll be really hard for them to pull this off (they'd have to use all their colony ships, and then use an influence action to flip over a 4th. And then they can't colonize anything that turn). So it seems like a stretch.

-Pyxis could certainly buy Advanced Robotics on the first turn, but, well, they already have Advanced Robotics.

Quote:
Obviously in a standard game most of the players cant afford it, and that discussion is interesting (and more than welcome here if you ask me), but I worded the OP as I did to get a sense of the intrinsic value of the techs. And also because the Hydran Progress shall RULE THE GALAXY!


Well, that certainly often seems to be the case :-)

I think Improved Hull is as close to a no brainer buy on the first turn as anything. Improved Hull is stupidly effective. And cheap. And likely something that everyone wants to have. I'm hard pressed to think of a game where Improved Hull wasn't the first thing bought off the tech board by likely, the first player.

(*Ok, I can think of a few times that someone *didn't* buy Improved Hull as their first move when it was on the board, but it was to buy Sentient Hull instead, which may or may not be a good move, but it arguably is).
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Paul Schroeder

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I am in agreement with those who chose improved hull. The only race I can think of an exception to this is Eridani, which can handle ancients without IH anyway. I have made the mistake too many times already where I choose something other than IH, someone else takes it in the same round, and then it is never available for me the rest of the game, which is just a terrible disadvantage.
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Brian C
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I'd almost always take Improved Hull.

My #1 priority in the first few rounds is to clear out Ancients and get my hands on Discoveries and their hexes (which are usually good ones). Improved Hull is the most efficient upgrade to assist.

Advanced Robotics is a great tech, especially early, but ultimately something that you can play without.

Occasion where I may consider Advanced Robotics...

1. I'm playing Orion, Rho Indi or Eridani and can attack with the shields.

2. Sentient Hull is on the board and I'm confident it will be available for me later. Maybe also Conifold field but it's hard to use early.

3. It's late in round one, I've done some exploring and (a) there's nothing to fight , (b) I've found a couple non-Money planets I want to influence and (c) I don't have neighbors playing aggressive species. Not too likely...
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Ian Allen
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Well it actually came up. I was 2nd and hydrans, player 1 was eradani and went research station for advanced economy and other tech. I took IH and narrowly won the game with the rho indi one point behind. Hitting ancients in R3 really made the difference I think.
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Peter Bakija
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daggaz wrote:
Well it actually came up. I was 2nd and hydrans, player 1 was eradani and went research station for advanced economy and other tech. I took IH and narrowly won the game with the rho indi one point behind. Hitting ancients in R3 really made the difference I think.


Yeah, Improved Hull is almost always the thing to do as your first action. If it is on the board. And you go first. Or second, and the first player did something else, that was probably a bad idea.

Again, to the main point as presented, it is very hard to get Advanced Robotics on the first turn. Looking at the various races, their starting science (and science discounts for IH or AR):

-Hydra: 5, -AR
-Draco: 4, no discount
-Planta: 4, no discount
-Lyra: 4, -1 IH
-Shapers: 4
-Human: 3, no discount
-Orion: 3, -1 IH
-Mechanema: 3, -1 IH
-Rho: 3, -1 IH
-Octanis: 3, -AR
-Eridani: 2, -1 both, lots of money
-Magellan: 2, -IH
-Exiles: 2, -1 AR
(Pyxis: 5 of whatever; they already have AR)

Improved Hull costs 4/3.

Advanced Robotics costs 6/4

The only race that can buy Advanced Robotics on the first turn without trading something for science is Hydra (they have 5 sci, and a -1 discount). But they are vastly better off buying two cheaper techs on the first turn with their 5 science and double research action. Eridani can do so, but only by trading 9 money for 3 science, which is a bad idea (again, get Research Station and Quantum Grid on the first turn. If that isn't on the table, don't be Eridani). A few other races can *possibly* buy Advanced Robotics on the first turn, but only by trading a lot and/or using special powers (that are still probably a bad idea--see: Magellan).

Conversely, 9 of the above 14 races can buy Improved Hull on the first turn without trading anything. Humans need to trade something (but have the advantageous 2:1 trade); Eridani need to trade 3 money, but that's probably ok for them; Magellan need to flip a colony ship (doing that once on T1 isn't horrible); Exiles and Octanis need to trade and probably it isn't a good idea for either of them to do that on T1.

Improved Hull? One of the best, most obvious "no brainer" techs in the game. Everyone wants it as soon as possible. And most folks can get it as their first action in the game. Advanced Robotics? Very good, but probably not worth mortgaging your future to get on the first turn.
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Anthony Gambatese
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Not even a question ... improved hull in no way compares to those extra actions ... especially early on !!! aka get those explore tiles out !!!!
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Tuomas H
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Are the neighbors aggressive or poised to attack? Improved Hull is a good deterrent.
Are there ancients around to take out? IH reduces losses.
If neither option above is relevant, which Adv.Production technology are you going for?

Both technologies are sought after, but in almost all cases I'd take IH first, expecially when I'm rushing the grid-technology track. In the games with our group, falling behind in the arms race tends to be punished fast.

Considering long term economics, some have said Adv.Robotics is better the earlier you can take it. I don't think it is that obvious, because production is vital to win games and the most valuable hexes are usually guarded. Rushing to the ancient hexes, hives and homeworlds is usually the better option than turtling and exploring mediocre unguarded hexes. It is true that early actions count and that exploration is important, but I don't think it is worth trading resources round 1. Maybe if you found a discovery tile with science-resource on the first round?

I'd take Adv.Robotics only if I had my eye on other hull technologies, and the neighbors are clearly not a threat for the next few rounds. Playing Magellan when the Conifold field (3 hull, requires 2 energy) is available could be one of these situations, but even then I might still aim to get Adv.Economy or Adv.Labs first. It depends.

Also, even though Riku said Improved Hull supposedly gets old pretty quick, I'd still take the hull first, because it is an important part of the arms race for the entire game. Computers and initiative win fights often, true, but with hull you have more options and fewer losses. The disadvantage in actions is overcome when Adv.Economy and/or Quantum Grid become available.
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Rodrigo Gazzi
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Well, there are many many other important questions to make. Like which is your race, which round is it, whats are your neighbors doing, what hexes did you find or are planning to explore, how are wormholes being placed, how is your money and science income going, what are the next techs or best track of interest some rounds in the future? After analysing some of these questions then, maybe you would conclude IH or AR or both are good for you right now. So... hardly this would be the first or more important question. Always have a global perspective about whats happening to you, the game and everybody else. Focusing in individual questions will make your game suboptimal quickly.

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Kevin De Schutter
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Improved Hull...always...
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John Brock
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I've only played a few games of it, but in my limited experience, the hexes worth using an action to grab early on are often the ones guarded by Ancients. So, I'd go for the IH unless I'm quite confident my race can take on the Ancients without it.

I remember one game where I or another player had their exploration completely shut down by Ancients at every hex, and another where I had plenty of actions to explore with, but kept turning up junk or Ancients. In either case, IH would have solved the problem.

In the latter game, I don't recall whether IH was even available to me, but I tend to enjoy exploring more than prepping to fight anyway... so I just kept going, looking for a jackpot. That game eventually came down to whether I was lucky with my deep-space discoveries, since my colonizable hexes sucked. Taking IH is far less of a crapshoot.
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