There are a lot of strategies you can employ in Ashes. Being the kind of guy I am I like to play games where I try to exploit them (and then claim I am doing my job by providing design feedback about our games). I’ve done bomber rushes, gone hard into radioactives to try to rush t3 dreadnoughts and skip the lower level ships entirely, I’ve avoided the economy entirely and tried to deathball directly at my opponent’s seed, I’ve engineer rushed to drop defenses around the regions that grant victory points and tried to hold them with defensive buildings.
As you would expect, every strategy has an advantage and a disadvantage and a capable player can start to dismantle the system you are building with the right moves. I have yet to beat Brad in a game (I’m hopeful one of you can when you start playing, seriously he needs beaten!).
For the game I played today I decided to try to exploit the unit cap. I wanted to make a vast army of low level units, mostly Archer’s and Artemis’s. Though I ended up using some Hermes for radar early on.
Disclaimer: Nothing you will see in this post is internal stuff, or any kind of dev or cheat option. I don’t have a higher unit cap than normal, I didn’t cheat to spawn any of these units. This is a real game played on the build that is going out in Early Access tomorrow (October 22nd, 2015).
To make this experiment the most interesting I setup the game specifically for this. I choose one of the largest maps, which is typically for 6 player games and brought it down to just me and 1 Ai opponent. I’m going to need lots of mines to feed my massive minion army. Then I increased the amount of victory points needed to win to 10,000. I didn’t want this game to end any way other than the crash of massive armies.
Then I was ready to begin.
My first move was to start making engineers, I was going to need a lot for this plan to work. One went and grabbed an early region (normally I go for a radioactive region, but with this strategy I was going to need lots of metal). One started making factories, by the end I would have 10 factories all set to continually build Tier 1 (Archers) or Tier 2 (Artemis’s). I don’t know that Archer’s and Artemis’s are the most efficient backbone of my army but I do like seeing lot of missiles being fired so they are my favorite.
The next engineer was out upgrading my home regions metal resources. He would later go following armies, upgrading resources in the regions they conquered. My last starter Engineer was assigned to start making Quantum Relays. I was going to need a lot of technology upgrades to increase my logistics limit. And I wanted to have a VERY high logistics limit. At the end of the day that’s all I needed, massive amounts of metal and research, all funneled into one flowing river of death.
Once the machine producing my army was running I had only to keep it fed. I would grab chunks of my waiting units and send them out on sweeps to claim regions, or attack enemy bases. The AI had attempted a few forays into my areas and been brutally repulsed. It backed away and hunkered down on the victory point locations, surrounding them with missile launchers. Fortunately I’d increased the victory limit or the AI would have own like this. It also began production of an Advanced Factory to begin producing Dreadnoughts.
This last point did push me off of my plan when I saw the AI’s first Dreadnought roll into battle and start cutting through my sea of red ships. I switched my factories over to Nemesis production (fortunately I had 10 of them well fed with metal) and after a harrowing minute of retreating I have a meta-unit built to disassemble dreadnoughts. He was far in my territory by this point so when my new Nemesis army fell on him, there was no getting away.
I followed it up by continuing all the way back to his advanced factory and destroying it in a hail of missile fire. By this point he was in retreat and I was running six separate armies, all as large as any single army I had used in any other Ashes game. They flooded out across the map like a red tide, it was somewhat hypnotic to watch. I suddenly wanted to make a SimAnt game with the Nitrous engine, and I understood why leaders have their armies march in parades before them.
Admittedly I did take my time building up my army. At some point it went from an experiment in specialization of large armies of small units to seeing just how big my army could get. Upon seeing my game one of the developers commented “You’re supposed to be converting the world in Turinium, not hover tanks.” She was so wrong.
The above is just my staging area. The place where all my factories send their units. This screenshot doesn’t include the thousands of units I already have out in armies conquering the world. My poor opponent, unwilling mouse to my cat was quickly swallowed up when I gave all of my armies the order to head for his seed. I like to think that he took some comfort in the fact that he didn’t get attacked my most of them because there was literally not a single open space anywhere near his space when they flooded him.
Look for Ashes of the Singularity tomorrow on Steam early access. If you already have the game then we would love to have you online playing multiplayer games with us. Please let know what strategies work for you. If you prefer big or small armies, powerful dreadnoughts or death from above. And someone please beat Brad.