Micromanagement Methodology - discussion - 22 September 2009
The next turn is generated and your m# file is received. You open it up and then.....
- Do you have a formal methodology in managing your games next submission?
- Do you have to read all your messages first before tweaking your production queues?
- Do you "planet hop"... check the production queue and ship movements on a planet by planet sequence?
- Do you analyse what went right or wrong from the previous turn, keeping notes as you go along?
I would love to hear how you guys perform your MM Management.
There is no particular reason for the order in which I do things. I just do them in this order all the time, just so I don't forget anything.
- I go through all my messages. I route all ships done moving in messages to where they should go. I route all new production to where it should go. I typically have few idle fleets, as if I want to wait a turn with a fleet to do something then I give it a nonesence order, either mining or minelaying, so it pops up in my messeges the following year.
- Sometimes while going through messages, and sometimes after, I will fill frieghters with population (and often a few minerals) going to the colonizing spread. I seriously try to get as close to exactly 25% of each planets capacity (I have a printed spreadsheet for each game), and to 33% once I start colonizing small greens and yellows. I will check the planet report when done, sorted by capacity, to make sure I have them all.
- I go through my queues. I build what I need at each base. I take note of mineral shortages (hopefully before they impact production)
- I route (or reroute) friegthers to allieviate mineral shortages.
- I inspect conflict areas carefully, making sure all my ships are moving as I want them to. I do other backfield housekeeping if needed like minelaying and recycling frieghters.
- I look at my planets report, and make sure nothing is amiss. If I am upgrading starbases, I will sort by starbase to make sure I have upgraded all of a particular design to the next level (so the old design can be retired)
- I look at my fleets report to make sure nothing is amiss. I sort by battle orders and check them. I sort by trip length and check there. (This is where I catch when I have routed through space, rather than through a gate)
Overall, I make fair use (still not enuf) of purpose named fleets. I will use things like:
- #attack SE
- *laying group N
- #point Norm
- *cover Maple Syrup
- mineral frieghter (MF) dingleberry/siren
or things like that. This makes running through messages much faster, as you see messages like "Gravitan Interceptor 7 has merged with #attack SE" and you immeadiately know that this is correct and needs no further attention, so you can immeadiately skip to the next message. If it says it has arrived or merged with something unmamed, then I examine and determine what needs to be done next.
I sometimes spend as much as 3 to 5 hours micromanaging a game which has gone to where I am routinely using 512 fleets. There are prolly more efficient ways of doing it, but if I need to, I can scoot through this list pretty quick. The big time is spent on going through 700 or 800 messages. I try to hide any not absolutely nescessary.
I guess you can tell. I like MM.
For a mature game, say Glacier II at the end, my turns were taking between 15-45 minutes. Lowside = fewer battles, high side = lots of battles w/multiple opponents. Average length was about 25-30 minutes/turn, and that was 70 planets/150k res at the end.
- Run through messages, 1-5 minutes. However, I have already filtered out most things. Battles, Bombing, MT's, my minefields getting swept, and player messages are about all I look at. Everything else is just noise. I figure out idle fleets, production q's, etc with the next 2.
- Planets "report", 3-10 minutes. Minimize the planet text box, so I can see the map when I click on each planet. Sort in the order of # people on them, and check capacity %. Make decisions based on that (like move pop from breeders and stop building fact/mines) for each planet. I do minimal fleet tasks associated with pop/mins at this time. Set to build or move transports to the planets as needed. Try to manage pop/min/fleet requirements at least 2 turns in advance, so I don't run out of transports at breeders (I'll miss something each turn, but not a big deal). Much of warship building I do in #5. It is usually not a snap decision.
- Fleet "report", 5-15 minutes. Reverse sort by name, then reverse sort by eta. Minimize the fleet text box, so I can see the map when I click on each ship. That gives me visual confirmation, as well as data, of what the fleet is doing. Then I quickly run down every fleet, and make sure it is doing what I want it to do. Automate what I can. Rename some fleets to "stop-xxx" for example, and ignore the entire group (like minelayers). The only stuff I dwell on is battle fleets and skirmishers, everything else is a few seconds each.
- Research, 1-5 minutes. Just look at it, make sure it is right for that year, and on track for future items.
- Reflection, 5-10 minutes. This is where I take it all in (enemy movements, fleets, new designs), and possibly re-evaluate what I want to do in some areas. Usually just effects a few planets production, and some ship movements at most. I like doing this at the end, tho, as then I have my turn fresh in my mind. So, if I need to react to a sudden increase in enemy ship building or movement, I already have an idea what needs to be changed.
Admittedly, I will sometimes have to spend more time for a sim, or crunching numbers, but that is rare.
I played many huge games, and blitz type games years ago, and my methodology comes from those games. Sure, you can spend 3hrs on a turn with a 30 planet empire...but why? Plus, that won't scale up in a huge. I think the issue is that people who have never played competitive huge games, never had to figured out how to best time manage stars, and just make do, or quit. It used to allow me to cruise through +200 planet empires fairly quickly. I was even able to play HE races in Huge universes without going insane (or so I think ). Oh, and might I add, many of those games were 7 days a week, not like 3 or less turns a week for a small/medium games we see now. So, it certainly helps in a smaller game. So much so, that sometimes the turns go to fast, and I wanted more...
Perhaps part of the problem is retention of overall strategy? For me, the more turns there are a week, the less overall time I spend per turn, cause my "reflection" time serves as a continuity bridge from the previous turns. When turns get under 3 a week, I essentially have to "relearn" my empire every freaking turn, and the "direction" I want to take it. I question everything, which can almost triple my time. Drives me nutz.
Ofc, the biggest time drain for me is usually writing emails to others. I can spend hours on that... So, often times I don't. Or I limit correspondence to the bare minimum neighbors. It's a war game, after all, not a debate club.
I find mlaub's way the most similar to mine. I usually take more than 5 mins for phase 5, tho. Must be I'm slow.
Luckily I have Routing to help me speed up things elsewhere.
Balancing minerals also helps to have most planet Qs similar.
And indeed Diplomacy (messaging, coordination, ...) usually takes the most time.
Last but not least, battlesimming can take its time too. Better waste a few hours to finetune your next battle than be on the losing side and see weeks of work go poof.
Like most, I guess, may way to approach a Stars turn changes over time. In the first years I read most of the messages, then more and more get checked away. There seem to be an astonishing many different ways to play Stars...
Let's see, at the moment I am playing in sas3, small/normal with 8 players. It is 2432. First enemy HW is conquered and the frontier spans diagonally thru the universe and I am fighting 3 players.
There are 120 messages of which I am actually reading 30:
- 1st message: battle summary (the each-battle-one-message are checked away)
- built docks/stations
- defenses (will be checked away soon)
- terraforming (will be checked away soon)
- all other production results are already checked away, same for fleet messages
- "your troops crush..." - I like those messages
- "your fleets bombed..." - I like those messages
- "Wreckage discovered..." - I like those messages
- tracking messages, mass packets, mines swept from MY minefields are shown, everything else is blanked out
- Battles: Usually I look at all battles.
- F5: did I gain a research level?
- Anything wrong on the map on first glance?
- Making p-files of my and my ally's m-file and loading them into Stars! Notebook to get a better tactical overview. Every 5 years I take some stats (res, planets, tech, points, pop, minerals mined and on surface) and compare them with the stats of previous games.
- Focussing on the attack fleets. They get their orders first. This includes auxils and supply ships in the surrounding. I keep in mind or write down what needs special attention: reinforcements, more pop, skirmishers etc.
- Reading the messages, see above. Updating the tactical map of Stars! Notebook with new gates and other data I find interesting. Comparing the tracking messages with the last turn (especially helpful versus stealthy ones).
- Fleet orders: Usually I blank out all ships, mine and enemies', with the ship filters and focus on 1 ship type (which might include several slots like
- all freighters
- all skirmishers
- all scouts
- The first to do are usually the freighters, the bloodlines of every empire. Some obviously belong to fleets and are already taken care of. Others orbit breeders and are sent out again... quite often I switch to the planet listing with F3. Checking pop, checking minerals. If a freighter is missing, it is put in the prod line at once. Freighters have priority. Logistics rule.
- After every type of ship is done or let's call it class since it can consist of several slots, any more needed ships of this class are put into production.
- Checking and sometimes adjusting the research settings.
- Last thing: If needed I track enemy fleets with scouts to see where they (really) move to.
- And now comes the fun part:
- I love to stare at the map, trying to form vicious plans and ideas. Switching between Stars and Stars Notebook. Checking enemy planets, distances, calculating what kind of fleet would be needed to conquere it... what all other planets could be conquered with the same fleet afterwards. What tech is needed? Can't it be done earlier, faster, meaner? Is there anything I can do to distract my opponents eyes from the spot where I intend to strike? Shall I make a decoy strike anywhere else? Does it really need to be a decoy, why not a small but true strike?
- Are there any other weak spots I can exploit without a full fledged attack fleet? How do I best encircle the enemy, cut him from the space needed to expand? Where are good spots to place, unseen, hunters impatiently waiting for prey: an unescorted freighter or even better colonizer.
- Are my warships spread too thin? Has the time of needle strikes come to an end, the right tech and economic maturity reached to strike decisively?
- More fleets or back to research the next generation of warships?
I have to admit, step 10) I can do for hours. It's the reason I play Stars and I even don't need the computer for it: I can think about the tactical situation while taking a shower or making myself comfortable on the park bank in the sun...