Competitive Guide

Strategy, feedback, or anything SUBTERFUGE-related
Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:21 am

  • Great guide in strategy

    I think the philosophy part applies to many games, like Stratego, Neptune's Pride, or real war. Thanks for telling us how to git gut
    "Look in the mirror... That's your competition"
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Tue Dec 29, 2015 4:35 pm

  • seethestar wrote:I have a very similar record to yourself (currently 14th in the rankings and yet to finish anywhere but first in any match)

    Haha, indeed I did notice you creeping up on me with a very similar style of record while I was studying the leaderboards the other day.
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Tue Dec 29, 2015 7:32 pm

  • Very good effort Kevlargolem, thanks for taking the time to post this. Looking forward to part 2, and maybe a domination strategy guide to come?
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Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:17 pm

  • kevlargolem wrote:
    seethestar wrote:I have a very similar record to yourself (currently 14th in the rankings and yet to finish anywhere but first in any match)

    Haha, indeed I did notice you creeping up on me with a very similar style of record while I was studying the leaderboards the other day.

    I noticed you fellas too, though I'm slightly lower on the ladder, I do think that we have a very similar gameplay style.

    I too, find myself using the queen in an aggressive manner, and doing many of the things listed in the guide.

    One thing I would also add is to avoid being too manipulative in your contact with others. I was in a game where the manipulation backfired and lost the game for the manipulator.

    Keep up the great work.
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Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:22 pm

  • Great guide Kevlar, and I'm a little proud to say that I have beat you in a game (although to be fair, we were allied almost the entire game, and you did come within 2 hours of beating me)

    Although your guide is great for winning, I play from a different perspective. I play to encourage alliances and to punish betrayals. In a game i am currently in, I am sacrificing a safe silver medal, in order to make the player coming third get the gold medal. Simply because I hate betrayal that much. Even though i have never betrayed anyone, i still have a backstabber medal though haha (and i agree completely about removing negative medals).

    My question is though, Why do so many people think "Subterfuge" means "Betrayal"? You don't have to attack your allies to win the game, you just have to encourage them to make decisions that help you, regardless of whether it helps them. Tell an ally that you heard purple was going to attack them, or tell navy that sky is sending a fleet just outside their sonar range and it has a helmsman... you can delay the building of mines and you can force people out of position, responding to nothing.
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Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:35 pm

  • delphaeus wrote: I'm a little proud to say that I have beat you in a game (although to be fair, we were allied almost the entire game, and you did come within 2 hours of beating me)

    Yeah, and I think it was my brilliant suggestion for you to attack the guy who you got two mines off of to pass me for the win. Oh well, he was conspiring against us the whole game, and would prefer to see him lose than hold 1st place for myself... least thats what I try to tell myself.
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Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:24 pm

  • My record started well, but I'm down to medaling less than half of games, I used to play too much at once. Good only 1 game tip
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Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:21 pm

  • Very nice. Although I personally have a pretty bad record on this account (which I believe has something to do with my 'all caps' username provoking aggressive psychological thoughts or whatever), on my other I have 1 bronze and 3 golds out of 4 games (I think they were mostly 10 player games too). So I'd just like to add some of my thoughts :)
    This is intended to be a complete competitive guide to Subterfuge, so please forgive the length. Also because Subterfuge is such a nuanced guide, you will see it is not written as a narrative "do this, then this, then this" but rather as a large collection of concepts. I also hope to do a series of videos to provide examples of what I am saying, if I can find enough time.

    This is exactly right. A guide which tells you what to do would fail in the fact that every situation is different, and you cannot account for all of them. Concepts and ideas however, will give the mind tools on which to think deeper and make better decisions. Well done! :)

    -Don't play too many games at once: I see this a lot, and it hurts people's performance. I myself have only ever played 1 game at a time. The game may seem slow at times, but there is a TON to do and think about while your subs take forever getting to their destinations. Think about who you're going to attack next, who might attack you next, check your drill cap to make sure you wont max out soon, think about what specialist you want next, TALK TO PEOPLE. To win the most games possible, you should play as best as possible, and that can only happen if you spend a lot of time/focus on each game.

    This is very true as well. Being a chess player, I have learnt to think about more than you want. You want to just do something and get it over with. Truth is, often you only choose a 'good' way of dealing with something, and sometimes even a 'bad' way. The more you think, the more likely you will be to come up with the 'best' way to achieve what you desired. The thing I find that takes the most time when I am look at the board is predicting my opponents actions. With Subterfuge this is even harder because the real-time element of the game is continuous, so subs may be sent at any time. One aspect of Subterfuge that I think could do with improvement is an experimental environment where you can try out different things if your enemy does this, or that, etc. Because chess is move-by-move, the analysis board can be run in your head. With Subterfuge, that analysis board should be built into the app (although I do understand it would not be high up on the Devs priority list).

    -Talk to people (a lot): All diplomacy requires communication, and silence is a universal sign to distrust. This is especially true before the game has even started, as people are very easily spooked and/or looking for someone to gank. It also tends to be true that the more you talk to someone, the more they trust you and want to work with you (so long as you don't message them so often that it annoys them).

    I always talk to everyone before the game starts. It often helps me understand everyone's personalities. You can find out a lot about a person just by the way they speak.

    -Be aggressive but not reckless. An aggressive player picks a target, and destroys them quickly, and starts looking for the next target while quietly discussing with his allies who that target should be. A reckless player picks fights arbitrarily, without knowing whether he has allies or whether they will assist in his next war. Reckless players frequently find themselves the "asshole" and end up on the wrong side of 2v1/3v1s and get eliminated early. Good aggressive players often finish with a medal.

    If you think you can destroy your target in 2 days, then that's a definite green light. 3 days is usually what it takes to make someone turtle/get them eliminated though. Anything longer than that and you probably need more allies or more firepower. Of course you still need to consider if the person you are planning to attack has allies, and how many. I'll include more about this in my section on 'Attacking'

    -Fight with unfair numbers: Yes, always. If you think an honorable 1v1 is how you want to fight, you can, but competitively that is never ideal. Every time you are at war, you are distracted and vulnerable (the rewards make this worthwhile). You want to win every war as quickly as possible to reduce the time in which you are vulnerable, and also to grow the largest empire faster than others who are trying to do the same, so that your win condition can come faster than theirs. A 1v1 fight proceeds extremely slowly, and could turn into a standoff, or worse- into a losing fight. Embrace your allies, and seek out those 2v1s, or 3v2s, or 3v1s.

    Once I arranged a 5v1 (this was in TET round 2), only to find out 3 days later that a deal had been struck between the other players and I was left in a stalemate situation where neither me or the person I was attacking could win. The deal was for the person we were going to attack to threaten me in exchange for peace, so neither he or me could do anything. What I hadn't considered is the history of the other players (I didn't know people like ponnithi and Alts were beta testers of the game). This is the only drawback of being the person to 'arrange' things. It can make you seem overly aggressive. I will test some new ways to arrange things and report back here. My initial ideas are, talk to each person one at a time, and start with something like 'are you allied with [The person you want to attack]?' to make it less suspicious and get a better idea of who you're going to be fighting against. When creating the new chat, don't be the first person to talk in it. Wait for someone else to say something. etc.

    -Secretly ally with everyone?: I personally do not have a lot of respect for this strategy, but it does seem to work (viable). The basic idea is to make allies with most of the people in the game, sometimes as multi-person alliances, and then pick which alliance you like better and betray the other alliance once it suits you. This does carry its own risk if you are not careful, that both sides will realize what you are doing and turn against you. It can also be bad for your long-term reputation.

    I would not recommend this. I have seen people do it before and it taints your trustworthiness (A lot of Subterfuge is about how trustworthy other people see you as). Even if you are not the person being attacked, you will still get the impression that the person attacking is not trustworthy. This may even lead to his own demise in that game.

    -Control every drill: Every drill should always be serving a purpose- in motion or stationed at their purpose the moment they are built. This is probably the biggest single mistake I see people make. There is no reason to keep drills scattered all over your base "just in case" someone somehow instantly blasts their way into the center of your territory. Think of drills as the blood of your military- and pump that blood to where it is needed. Yes, it seems like those 6 drills are not a lot, and it seems like they will never get to where you want them. Have faith- 6+6+6 adds up quickly, and that travel time isnt as bad as you think.

    Actually, I disagree with this. I always station (if I can) at least 1 driller (sometimes more) at all of my outposts. They have saved me many times, especially when you need to accept a gift to win a fight somewhere else. This is especially true when you have kings. I remember a game once where I had 4 kings, I had at least 3 drillers at every outpost to account for the loss of shield. An outpost with no defense is very tempting to take. In another game I played before I learnt this I had 2 kings, and even my allies started attacking my outposts which had nothing on them. Having some drillers (even 1) at an outpost also creates the psychological effect that you still care about that outpost, deterring other allies/neutrals from trying to take them so quickly.

    -Keep close eye on your drill cap: Imagine that every cycle your factories miss because they are capped, that many drills just died. Thought about this way, you will realize that your cap might be killing significantly more drills than any enemy specialist could ever kill. You never want to be capped. Get more gens, get a Tinkerer/Minister of Energy, build a mine, or let loose on an enemy, but try to never be capped. Remember that clearing your cap takes time, so take action before the cap comes, not after.

    Here, I would suggest to not be too panicked and attack someone too quickly. A famous chess player once said: "No plan is better than a bad plan." There is a psychological effect that will compel you to attack others more because you have reached your max cap and thus you think that you have the firepower to attack someone, when really what you need is the firepower of you and your allies. (As Kelvargolem said: 'Hot or Cold', and attacking someone when you have reached you max cap is likely to be warm.)

    -Don't feel compelled to always fight constantly. Just because you can fight, doesn't mean you must to do it constantly for the entire game. One benefit of being the player on the offensive is that you are in control of when it happens, and who it happens with. Take advantage of this power, and only do it when you are confident in your choice, and are ready to fight. While you never want to be drill capped, you also dont want to willingly start a fight while low on drills.

    Read my section on 'Attacking' below

    -Try not to "rubber-band" your own Nep when taking someone else mine. Its a hard rule that every time a mine is lost, Nep is only lost, and none is gained. This means that by back-and forth fighting over a mine, both players can suffer huge Nep losses. Avoid this problem by only taking a mine when either (a) you have no/little Nep to lose, or (b) you are certain you can hold the mine the moment you take it.

    This is one of the only times an overkill is advantageous.

    -Know the strength of shields as what they are (no more, no less). Players can tend to either overly fear shields, or drastically underestimate them. I think those who fear them tend to do so because of the visual aspect of that scary white circle building up, and would not carry this fear if the outpost only gave a numerical indicator, like the way drills do. I think those who underestimate shields do so because of reckless tendencies.

    When considering shields I tend to just add the shield to the driller count, since it basically acts in the same way. However you need to be careful when you have an infiltrator, warhero, king, general, etc. because they can't destroy both drillers and shield (e.g. if an outpost has 5 shield and 4 drillers a general won't be able to take the outpost because it won't be able to get through the shield)
    -Target factories on offense, generally. Factories are usually much higher priority targets over gens and even mines, because they are actively producing front-line drills which dont have to travel for a single second to defend that outpost, and have quick speed to counter-attack your assault. Therefore you generally want them out of the picture asap. The exception to this rule, is if your target has very high drill production rate, and very low cap space. Then you can take his gens first, which will ensure that he wont be able to produce from any factory, let alone his front-liners. I would apply the "hot-or-cold" concept to this- either go hard after factories, or go hard after gens. Don't be lukewarm by going after both with equal priority.

    Actually I disagree with this as well. I believe you need to go after gens and factories after you have considered the importance of each to your enemy AND the cost of attacking them. Also, if your enemy has an undefended pair of generator and factory attack both, not just one because you are 'specialising' in attacking one and not the other. This is addressed in my 'attacking' section below as well.

    The opening is a terrifyingly critical part of the game. It is when players are most even, as drills and outposts are even, and specialists are at a minimum. Ironically because it is so even, this is also when the game can be most unfair, because the most militarily skilled player in the game might get eliminated and finish in last place, merely because he got outnumbered by multiple poor military players. Fear not! There are principles to follow that can help you survive this critical and unforgiving stage.

    Try not to be at the top of the leaderboard in this phase, as they will be attacked. Being second or 3rd will give you higher changes of getting a good spot in the leaderboards for the middlegame.
    By the time the first 1 or 2 players are being eliminated, we shift into the midgame. If youve survived this long, what I consider to be the hardest part of the game, is now over.

    I think the opening should be defined as the period of time where players expand, form alliances, and decide what to do. Once they are executing their actions, it becomes the middlegame.

    I'll stop here for now and continue later.

    I would also like to add:
    Think about your decisions more when you are tired.
    I have, on countless occasions, had people report or tell me that they screwed up because they made a mistake while they were tired. I myself have done this once. I think someone even accidentally resigned because they were tired. When you should be sleeping, or you feel tired, take things slowly.

    [Coming soon]
    Kings aren't OP

    "Imagination is more important than knowledge"
    ----Albert Einstein
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Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:00 pm

  • Great guide! Awesome detail.
    "I work for the company. But don't let that fool you, I'm really an okay guy."
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    carter j burke
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Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:15 am

  • Nice write up. Thanks for sharing.
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