On the defensive power of strongholds



  • Now I probably should have posted this while they were in PTR, but too late now. I've been thinking about what it takes to remove a stronghold it seems to me we have the following:

    Level 1: Unboosted squad (at least 3 creeps with sensible retreat/grouping logic). Single boosed creep works.

    Level 2: Single boosed ranged/tough/heal creep. Attack/heal pair may be more efficient. Boosted squad if you like.

    Level 3: Single/multiple boosted ranged/tough/heal creep. Attack/heal pair may be more efficient. Boosted squad is alright.

    Level 4: Single/multiple boosted ranged/tough/heal creep (standing off) or boosted squad.

    Level 5: Large formation.

    I feel there's some issues here.

    • I think level 1 should die more easily. This could acheived in a number of ways. You could make the tower only shoot every other tick. Or maybe you could apply an effect to the tower to make it less damaging. Or maybe throttle it's energy income. Maybe it could have no towers and spawn a creep or a roaming creep. Either way I think it should be killable without RCL 8 + squad code/boosts.
    • Level 2-3 - I feel we need more to distinguish them. There's not really a ramp-up in challenge here - you can use the same build with a different body composition.
    • Level 4 - I think this is in an alright place. Boosted defenders means you can't just casually saunter up to the walls and tank it. You either have to approach selectively (eg. on the corners), stand off, or retreat smartly. (EDIT: See below, it actually seems core sniping is a bit too powerful against level 4 IMO).
    • Level 5 - I think this is too much of a step up from level 4. If there are only 5 levels that's fine. Maybe there should be a level 6 which has current level 5 capabilities and the "extra" level being 5 towers with ranged attack creeps mixed with close combat guys? Or a repair creep?

    So essentially I think we need a bit more progression in abilities - from sending a squad to take down a room, to boosting and formations and finally to large assaults. I think each step should require some tactics not required by the previous steps.

    👍


  • We were chatting on slack, and it seems the most cost effective way of taking down level 4 strongholds may also be a single creep. Because invader cores are relatively weak, and are required to keep the defense running, just sniping it out seems a pretty effective strategy. On a level 4 you can just clear one corner rampart then snipe out the core without having to worry about any of the defender creeps.

    I think one factor that really distinguishes strongholds from player bases is the amount of time you have at your disposal (lots), the amount of damage you need to do (not much), the amount of damage/tick you need to do (not much... there's no repair until L5) and the predicability of the defense (100%, as we have the source and it's deterministic). Maybe level 4 should have a repair creep for 1000 repair/tick? That'd make single creep strategies less possible as they're very low damage/tick. Maybe also the rampart over the core should be doubled compared to the rest? Maybe more ranged creeps all round? The reliance on boosted ATTACK makes these sniping methods easy.

    Personally, I feel the stuff we have right now is a reasaonble base, but should be built on. There should be multiple styles of level 4 rampart, some with lots of ranged, some with lots of repair and some as they are right now vulvernverable to a standing off poker.

    🗣


  • I'd make the L3/4 spawn additional ranged defender(s) if the core rampart is damaged below half health. Killing core first should be as hard or harder than killing towers and then drilling in.

    👍🤔

  • Dev Team

    @tigga said in On the defensive power of strongholds:

    Personally, I feel the stuff we have right now is a reasaonble base, but should be built on.

    That's exactly the plan! Please keep providing feedback.

    👍


  • https://screeps.com/a/#!/room/shard3/E45N34 (replay inactive as nukes...)

    I brought this up with @o4kapuk on slack last week, but thought it was worth popping in the thread. Right now it is very easy to take down a L5 stronghold with two nukes and loot 3/4 containers. Effort: tiny, risk: tiny, cost: tiny, reward: huge. This is only one way of doing it. An alternative method would be to nuke above and below the core so that everything dies except the core and two containers. That alternative method would work if you changed things to make the container loot somehow be destroyed on nuke impact as you'd still get all the core loot.

    IMO at the very least the repair creep needs to be prioritized depth first (repair core to strength, then towers, then the rest), rather than breadth-first. That'd mean a lot of empty ramparts died, making a ground assault easier, but you'd need a much greater nuke count to actually clear it with nukes.

    The real "fix" for me would be blasting away all the loot on any nuke impact. Maybe make the containers tombstones or ruins (that'd also fix the >5 containers in a room issue) then add additional logic for the core to clear the store if any nuke lands?



  • I think the difference between lv 4 and lv 5 strongholds is a bit intense, maybe add another 2-3 levels?

    The difference between lv 4 and lv 5 are: 2 Towers, 1 Repairer, boosted Ranged Attacks, and creeps with 44/6 bodies.

    Can we spread these out a bit,

    Lv 4 + 1 - 5 towers and ranged attackers.

    lv 4 + 2 - 6 towers and Repairer - not boosted.

    Lv 4 + 3 - 44/6 bodies and everything fully boosted.



  • Agreed on the overly steep difference between the Lv4 and Lv5 stronkholds. But I also do have a feeling that Lv5 only seems strong now, until someone can figure out how to cheese it...

    Still, I'd love to have a few extra levels to bridge the gap between these.



  • I wonder if level 4 strongholds shouldn't use tower repair when there are no creeps to shoot.

    @orlet said in On the defensive power of strongholds:

    Agreed on the overly steep difference between the Lv4 and Lv5 stronkholds. But I also do have a feeling that Lv5 only seems strong now, until someone can figure out how to cheese it...

    Maybe. There are some known ways to "cheese" level 5s, but for the most part they just make your life easier. For example you can just copy-paste their defense code and get perfect pre-healing. That makes tough more effective and means you can save on a lot of parts and instead turn them toward damage. The fact that the defense code doesn't have any randomness is a big weakness IMO. If it just multiplied it's damage calculation for each target by 0.8 + 0.4 * Math.random() it'd be a lot more dangerous. Personally I've not abused this yet as I'm aware that they intend to improve the way strongholds work, and if that makes the defense make more effective use of their resources code to exploit these issues will become redundent.

    In Slack we've talked about a couple of other methods - nibbling away at corners where only one ranged creep can reach you (though repair creep causes problems, as do strongholds without exposed cornes), and using fortify+sheild (helped by the fact strongholds don't shoot power creeps) to create a indestructable cover to shoot at the stronghold from. They're quite a bit more complex than the cheese for lower levels 4s and aren't so clearly cheese.



  • @tigga I think strongholds don't shoot power creeps is just a bug.



  • @nicle said in On the defensive power of strongholds:

    @tigga I think strongholds don't shoot power creeps is just a bug.

    I'm sure it is, yes.



  • Changes today are good. Bring level 4s up to a point where you can't just snipe them, brings level 5s down a bit so that if you get lucky they're only "hard" rather than "very hard" and the double fortifier means "fixed function" strategies such as corner nibbling may just fail due to lack of damage.

    Nukes are still an issue IMO.