Entrenchment Unit Basics and Tips
(Reference supplement to "What's New in Entrenchment?")
This certainly isn’t all encompassing but it’ll give you a feel for the categories of the new toys, what their function is and I give a few tips on how I like to use them. See the above link for more information.
The first time you start up an Entrenchment game pause it and open up the research window. You will notice there is a new research tree with a "defense" sounding name (unique name and tree to each faction). Selecting this tree will unveil a bunch of new research subjects and some familiar ones. In the general case, all the old defensive type research subjects have been moved to this tree along with all the new subjects. There are some exceptions particularly with some of the new non-defensive research subjects like the TEC’s new beam weapon upgrades. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
The original Sins defensive structures essentially became obsolete towards the mid-game and they were very limited in their ability to deal with certain situations. Each faction can now unlock new functionality for their defenses such as Burst Rockets for the TEC’s Gauss turret which enable it to deal with groups of small targets and Synergy for the Advent’s Beam Cannons which allow them to grant damage and shield bonuses to nearby structures.
One of the most common complaints we had was that each faction’s hangar had to no reason to be placed in one location or another – you basically didn’t have think when placing them. Now, each hangar has a unique way of defending against bombers and fighters within some radius so careful placement of these will help defend your other structures or defending ships.
There are a number of other upgrades including Disrupter Nanites, Meson Bolt Cannons, Shield Bestowal, and Phasic Trap. Hover over the relevant research topic or ability and it will bring you up to speed on its function.
The most requested defensive feature was minefields and Entrenchment delivers. Each faction now has a unique way of deploying mines once they are unlocked from the defensive tree All mines cost credits and resources but you are buying them in clusters (instead of individually) and you must choose a location to place each cluster of mines. Each faction has a limit on how many mines they can place per gravity well (currently 150) and you can see your current mine status by simply hovering your mouse cursor over the adjacent planetoid. Finally, each faction has a unique mine type or multiple unique mine types.
The TEC has basic Proximity Mines that are built from the usual defensive structures build menu on the planet. Once active, they explode whenever an enemy ship gets close causing area of effect damage that could effect a number of units (but never your own). The Vasari can unlock the “Ruiner” mine layer ship that allows him to lay either Explosive or Gravity mines at any almost any location in any gravity well including in enemy territory! Explosive mines are similar to the TEC’s proximity mines but the Gravity mines hold ships in place which is particularly nasty to an enemy trying to retreat. The Advent have always been the strike craft masters so they get a new strike craft type that can deploy as Homing Mines which detect nearby enemies and swarm to destroy them.
When mines are deployed there is a period of time before they are active so the opposing players have a chance to reorganize your forces and deal with the new threat (this is a result of the exploitable offensive capabilities of mines in the early betas). However, once they are active they are phased out so nothing can attack them until they are detected. In the original Sins, scouts became virtually obsolete, if not, at least limited in usefulness later in the game. In Entrenchment scouts are your means to unveil mines and thus always useful as long as the enemy is using mines. We also re-did the design and AI for flak frigates so that they serve a secondary role as great mine clearers with their multiple, fast firing banks. I typically make small fleets of scouts + flak frigates as autonomous mine clearing groups to make the process fairly seamless. If you take this route, make sure a scout is the fleet leader so that mines are prioritized.
Another key new strategy is to scout ahead before jumping into a system so you know where the mine locations are. Remember, you can control where you arrive in the enemy gravity well by choosing where you jump from. Jump from the left, you arrive on the left, jump from the far past the gravity well’s edge, you arrive far past the gravity well’s edge. This is critical to avoiding mine traps.
One final comment on minefields: there is nothing more satisfying in my books than watching a massive pirate force take a few mines in the face.
One of the primary design goals for Entrenchment was to help players secure a flank so that they could make a big push with their primary fleet and to secure the frontline so the enemy wasn’t rampaging around in behind. In order for this to happen we knew we needed something really powerful. Star Bases are the result and they are basically massive fortifications that can engage and handle large numbers of targets on their own, among many other special capabilities.
On each faction’s defensive tree there is the ability to unlock either the Star Base construction vehicle (TEC, Advent) or to unlock the ability for their colony ship to construct a Star Base (Vasari). These ships can then fly to any gravity well in the galaxy and construct a Star Base. This may seem trivial, but it has dramatic effects on the overall gameplay. Because you can build Star Bases ‘anywhere’ you can now establish control over neutral nodes such as stars and gas giants and even gain a foothold in enemy territory. For example, with the TEC’s Argonev’s Star Base you could upgrade it to be able to produce new frigates and cruisers in the enemy’s gravity well while at the same time providing a local retreat zone where your ships can return to repair while sieging that enemy world without having to jump away. Or imagine the Vasari’s Orkulus Star Base firing up his Phase Gate and drawing in an entire new fleet of reinforcements while it roams about massacring the enemy’s structures with its anti-structure weaponry (yes, the Orkulus can move!) and healing itself from their scrabs with its Debris Vortex. Personally, I prefer the Advent Transcencia Star Base's ability to call down a devastating storm of telekinetically guided meteoroids on the planet while mass disorienting the defending fleet (they spin around uselessly).
In each of the previous examples, the Star Bases are being used offensively and were upgraded to perform that task. They could have also been upgraded to perform more of a defensive role (their typical usage), an economic role or any hybrid. More importantly, Star Bases upgrade in a much different manner than capital ships and planets in that you can’t have everything. You have to make a choice as to which upgrades are best suited to the role you have in mind for that particular Star Base. As you are limited to building one Star Base per gravity well (except around stars which can handle four), there is often quite a dilemma. Typically, I upgrade my rear line Star Bases for economics and/or culture, the front line Star Bases for defense and the enemy territory ones for offense. The other dilemma is that Star Base upgrades are extremely expensive. An early level Star Base may seem cheap but it’s also proportionally weak. However when they are fully upgraded they are a force to be reckoned with and should be considering you may have sunk up to 20,000 credits into them never mind the metal and crystal costs.
While there is a lot to discover about Star Bases, particularly with regard to all their unique abilities, there are a couple abilities that all Star Bases share and are particularly important for holding the front line that go above and beyond their weapon systems. Because the TEC and Advent Star Bases can’t move and the Vasari Star Base moves relatively slow there is always the possibility that the enemy will just skirt the Star Base’s death zone rendering them useless as defensive units. However, Star Bases can unlock the ability to exert control over their local planet which prevents loss of the planet as long as the Star Base exists. This means if the enemy wants your planet, they have to take it the Star Base. Even more importantly, Star Bases can destabilize the local phase lanes so that enemy ships that attempt to retreat or run pass the Star Base will suffer massive damage and antimatter loss, again providing a strong incentive to deal with the Star Base before moving on. If you see your phase jump charging effect or travel effect turn red you know your ships are using a destabilized phase lane and when they complete their transit they won't be in good shape. Combined with mines, new defences, phase jump inhibitors, and full upgrades, Star Bases are absolutely devastating.
There is no doubt that all the new defensive toys make attacking a planet a much more difficult affair. Luckily, each faction has a new means to counter these defenses that can be unlocked from the defense research tree. The TEC get the very powerful Ogrov Torpedo Cruiser (aka the Lobber) which is basically a mobile ICBM missile launcher that does incredible damage to a single target. The Advent get the starfish shaped Adjudicator (aka the LobberFish) that specializes in clearing out large groups of tightly clustered structures (a typical defense pattern in the original Sins) by being able to target multiple units at once. The Vasari get a mobile Star Base with some very special anti-structure upgrades and research topics, most importantly is the ability to accelerate its build rate in enemy gravity wells so you can build it quickly while your fleet distracts the enemy. The Orkulus also differs from the other two Anti-Structure ships in that it can attack ships while the other two cannot.
It’s important to remember that the new ships eat up a lot of fleet supply, credits and resources so having too many of them isn’t a good ideas – especially when they don’t stand up well against enemy forces. If you are used to medieval style real-time strategy games, think of them sort of like space-catapults. In this same regard, it’s also useful to know that they attack enemy targets from outside any structure’s range so if they are being shot by static defense, you should pull them back out of range. Finally, a typical strategy I employ is to have a secondary structure-busting fleet tag along behind my attack fleet so I don’t waste time and DPS clearing out the gravity well. This allows me to keep my momentum up before the enemy can entrench at the next planet and makes far more efficient use of my resources.
For more information visit What's New in Entrenchment?