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  • Fringe Bases

    In the thread, “He who attacks first loses? Vel?” Vel brings up his concept of “fringe bases” which he explains are, “Newer, more marginal bases, put in place specifically to serve as way points and lookout posts. They’re garrisoned, and their very existence means that an attacker will need to conquer them first to keep his forces from getting surrounded/give my jets and choppers a landing site behind the battle.”

    In all my days I’ve never tried this out instead opting for the most “juice” out of every base rather than leave the fringe bases somewhat neglected. Arguably you could say every new base founded is a “fringe base” until you’ve built infrastructure in it, and/or expanded beyond it, but I’ve never went ahead and created a base with the sole purpose of having a listening post so to speak. With the penalty of extra drones for founding new bases past your bureaucracy limit I think this practice is somewhat discouraged in the mechanics of the game (perhaps this is why I’ve never considered it), but I’m curious if anyone else has experimented with this, or routinely uses it, and what their experience has been using it.

    At some point in the game I tend to stop expanding and the urge to get as much out of each base is far too compelling. At that point I start building infrastructure and what not, which changes the base’s “fringe” status making it a more valuable asset to my overall empire. Does anyone not do this and leave those bases on the “fringe”?


  • #2

    Fringe bases are bases in strategic places (ie refueling,denying the ground to others, repairing and for plain all early warning against invasion) that you dont mirco manage you just let its formers or whatever do whatever. You dont really build them up because their in dangerous places and not really important overall.

    As for bureaucracy limit you usually have to build quite a few bases for that to come into effect. I myself never build more than 8 -10 cities with 4-5 of those being "Core" and/or SP cities. When i need more cities,i take them (because by that time i usually can)

    And the drones dont matter much as by time your limit's hit you have access to many constructions that provide talents or less drones.


    • #3
      Perhaps I am just an expansionist but I usually have some bases that I consider to be fringe bases. Since it is always more efficient to build the Lab and Economy multiplying facilities in the larger bases first, there is a real hierarchy to my development. My best base in energy production gets all the facilities I can rush plus as much terraforming and crawlers as possible. Then I pick another base to develop to the fullest and another. Its not strictly sequential but there is a definite focus on making best bases into science monsters

      I end up with a core of well developed bases while the fringes remain undeveloped for some time ( I'm rushing nodes,research hospitals and hab complexes at core bases while the frontier bases get fewer rushes and only if there is some exta cash). A fringe base (by definition vulnerable) is likely to be left at size 1-2 for a good few turns until mineral production is increased and it has a few good units . Then depending on its location it could be tasked to create crawlers for a core base or if too far away, might get some infrastructure. As the empire expands, newer and newer frontier bases are created so what I consider to be "core" expands with time. But the idea of a fringe base is always part of my thinking. Its main role at the moment of creation is to claim land for me and provide a buffer against potential enemies. If possible, boats and airpower will go there immediately upon founding to make it a valuable outpost but I am unlikely to rush many facilities there unless flush with cash.

      As for bureaucracy limits, I find that between specialists and crawlers there is always a way to handle those guys. I have had some bases stay at size 1 for a long time since the only worker had to be turned into a doctor to avoid Drone riots. Eventually I will quell the Drone and begin some development but that may not be a priority for several turns.


      • #4
        I tink that....

        There are many factors in the utility of 'fringe bases' and arguably the most important is the world size. There simply isn't room for fringes on a standard or smaller map. Each base is critical. Strategies change dramatically on larger maps where reaching the enemy is a 20+ square proposition.

        Still, even on large or standard worlds an early and far out base serves several purposes. I think these early bases are a little different than fringe bases. Largely they serve to claim territory so that you can work backwards into the interior of your empire while building a garrison on your 'line in the sand'. As such these early bases on the frontier should really be called Frontier Bases. Depending on world size they either become core cities eventually or remain on the Fringe as airpower is developed. In both cases they are risky propositions and are treated differently than more 'Interior' bases.

        Fringe bases become much more important on the bigger planets. Typically they don't serve to 'claim territory' as the AI will often move seabases nearby, ignoring your borders. Rather they are waypoints for the ever important airforce, droptroops, returning probe foils/teams, and reconisence patrols.

        I don't agree with Vel that fringe bases must be taken first by an invading force. It may look good not to have your assault team surrounded, but there are simply too many elements in a good attack to suggest that taking out the fringe base on the way in is a good idea. It is often easier to build your own fringe base toward the enemy while you are still in a state of peace. When it does become time for war you then have that extra edge of a base with the troops already in it rather than moving them into a newly captured fringe base of your enemy. aside...My favored attack is to take a core city ASAP, pretty much expecting it to be taken right back. Of course I've sold off all the infrastructure by that point. In this case I don't worry too much about the survival of my troops. Creating a beachead for permanent invasion is a different case but I still don't care too much to take out the weaker fringe bases of the enemy on the way in.

        Visit Aldebaran:Aldebaranweb


        • #5
          More on Fringe Bases

          General Statement:
          There are times when creating a new base, despite a possible increase in drones, is not only desirable, but an integral part of a cohesive attack or defense network.

          Offensive Uses of Fringe Bases:
          The primary purpose for offensive fringe bases is to create way points for troops and supplies en route to a potential trouble spot. The fact of the matter is that naval units are vulnerable when on the high seas, and if you find yourself transporting attack rovers and/or garrison troops to the lands of your enemies (or, to some ally in need of aid), they stand a good chance of being blasted out of the water by enemy air or sea units long before they reach their destinations. Thus, the creation of a way point for repair and cover. This is especially useful when moving numbers of probe foils toward a string of enemy coastal bases, and when positioning your own aircraft for strikes against enemy naval units, clearing the way for the advance of your own naval units. (And, in this particular case, the goal is to place a sea colony just outside the range of mainland based enemy bases, giving your units the ability to patrol the sea zone, but leaving your opponent unable to get his warplanes to the base in question).

          Once the sea zone has been emptied of enemy naval units, you can then springboard a new colony pod closer to the enemy’s coastline. Perhaps close enough so that covert ops can be conducted against a number of bases simultaneously. In this case, the base in question is very hard for your enemy to deal with, as you are providing air cover to that base from a base that he cannot reach, and by installing a few AAA Cruisers at the base, rushing a trained scout or two and upgrading, you create a haven for your foil and cruiser based probes to work from (re-homing the probes so that if they successfully complete their missions, they return to THIS base). In these two cases, obviously the bases are more exposed than bases at your core, and because of that, you probably do not wish to invest in extensive infrastructure in them, in the event that the base falls. By keeping your investment in such bases to a minimum, you find yourself hardly stung at all should those bases be taken by the enemy. OTOH, if you decide to invest in heavy infrastructure at these bases, then you find yourself having to expand your defensive network to the point where you can adequately protect them…often a losing proposition where sea bases are concerned.

          Used in this fashion, an Offensive Fringe Base can, for the price of a sea colony pod or two, give you a means of creating a number of real headaches for your opponent that cannot be easily dealt with.

          Another Offensive-Oriented Fringe Base would be a base set up for the express purpose of cutting off enemy expansion, limiting him to an undesirable corner of the continent. Such a base, because of its proximity to enemy positions, makes it a relatively poor choice for vertical investment, but it would be an excellent place to specialize in prototyping or covert ops.

          Defensive uses of sea bases:
          Because sea bases are relatively harder to defend than their land-based cousins, they are excellent candidates for defensive fringe bases. You don’t WANT heavy infrastructure here, because the bases are relatively more exposed, and unless you are using the base as a naval HQ or some such, you put your investment very much at risk by developing all of your sea bases equally.

          Advantages gained by ringing your continent with sea bases:
          1) If the bases are properly spaced, it will not take terribly to ring your continent. Spaced four tiles apart, they will give you a zone of sea borders all around your empire, enabling a marketeer to maintain an active naval presence in and around his continent without creating a drone problem.
          2) The ring of sea bases can be used as staging points for your air force, allowing them to patrol further away from your core bases, spotting incoming attackers long before they can threaten your core bases and their crawler suites.
          3) The presence of strong naval and air garrisons in selected bases gives you the option of some vertical investment in the bases in question, at the expense of tying an increasing number of your forces TO those locations
          4) Likewise, the presence of strong naval and air garrisons posted well away from your core bases makes it viable to use limited numbers of sea crawlers for food and/or energy, even if you find yourself relatively close to a hostile rival.

          Having said all that, I must confess that for the longest time, I attempted to invest in all of my bases more-or-less evenly. However, it is very definitely true that not all bases are created equal, and in light of those differences (brought about by positioning and relative proximity to enemy mostly, and to a much lesser extent by the initial condition of the surrounding terrain), it is highly desirable to regard certain bases in a different light, treating them as little more than way stations for your troops.

          Also, and this is especially true in team games, if you find yourself pacted with an opponent who is about to lose his last base, a great way to give that player a new lease on life is to simply give him some of your fringe bases (break pact, declare war, you empty the bases out, your “opponent” uses a single cruiser or foil to capture a base or two each turn), then re-pact. Now, your opponent is still in the game, protected by the same units covering your core bases, and what’s more, he can now help strengthen your position.

          There are probably a ton of other uses besides, but the phones just started ringing off the hook here at work, so I must stop for now!

          The list of published books grows. If you're curious to see what sort of stories I weave out, head to and do an author search for "Christopher Hartpence." Help support Candle'Bre, a game created by gamers FOR gamers. All proceeds from my published works go directly to the project.


          • #6
            I agree, the idea of fringe bases is more relevant on larger worlds and their purpose can be varied.

            One question however, How exactly do you take a core base of a well established empire without taking out the fringes first? I am assuming we are talking sometime in the mid game and not talking about the very top of the tech tree.

            Assume that we are in a post MMI world but pre the techs that allow flying units that take bases and also accept that

            1) a sneak naval landing is not likely due to massive patrolling. Also the coast will be blockaded with crawlers so the only way off the boat is to blast a hole with marines or airpower
            2) you have no bases or airbases within 8 squares of the core This is the case more often than not
            3) airdrop is not possible due to aerocomplexes or distance
            4) you are infiltrated meaning that the composition of your forces is known

            Perfect defense of your "core" is not always possible but it IS often possible to screen the core such that all naval approaches are well patrolled or ZOC blocked by trawlers/sea formers. While air strikes are difficult to prevent, how do the ground troops arrive so that you grab that core base?? The fringe base's existence is to provide security to the core.

            As for the AI and seabases, I take them LOL and add them to my fringe bases. IN a multiplayer game I do not care much what the AI thinks of me and will attack any AI seabase off my coast. They are usually real easy to take.


            • #7
              The short answer to your question, cbn, is I’m not sure. I’ve not had it happen to me before, and I’ve not attempted such an operation against the folks I play hot-seat with. I can tell you that the AI—who can’t mount a decent offense to save its poor soul—has never even come close. None of my core bases, nor their crawler suites have ever been threatened once I’m set up.

              One of the cool things about making extensive use of fringe bases is that it TOTALLY redefines the game. Gone is the prospect of the rover rush. Gone too is the prospect of the “build up for x number of years and decide the game with one big battle string of battles (ie – sending your thirty X-Chaos Choppers across to enemy territory all at once).” What those things are replaced with, are a series of tight, sharp skirmishes for control of existing fringe bases, or battles between players building fringe bases toward each other. The core of the empires are rarely touched…the game is often decided, and most of the action takes place on the fringes, in places of little immediate strategic importance, but positions that could have profound importance as the game grinds on.

              The list of published books grows. If you're curious to see what sort of stories I weave out, head to and do an author search for "Christopher Hartpence." Help support Candle'Bre, a game created by gamers FOR gamers. All proceeds from my published works go directly to the project.


              • #8
                It's relatively easy to bypass fringe bases to take a core base before D:AP, particularly if your opponent is running FM. Sail a ship with troops up to his coast, taking advantage of the fungus.

                By the stage you describe I can't see just walking into a core base.


                • #9
                  "Fringe bases" produce basic troops, while the established core bases produce energy to upgrade them with. This way no time is lost transporting the troops. They just pop out at the edge of your empire, right near the next target. As the fringe expands, the " inbetween bases" produce formers/crawlers to boost the production capacity of the fringe bases.

                  Coastal fringe bases produce tons of cheap ships. Basic impact cruisers, in large quantity , for very effective control of the sea.
                  "Nine out of ten voices in my head CAN'T be wrong, can they?"


                  • #10

                    But pre- airpower how do you get ON the coast ? Do you have marines (forget the tech for them) to blast the base empty or kill other land units? Otherwise, a defense of lining the coast with formers, crawlers, scouts, or probes prevents any landings (This is not an unusaul thing to do if you suspect a naval landing-- you only have to block a few squares to shunt the force away from a key base). If your ships are stuck against the coast, even a FM opponent will brave the drones to send some ships out to hit an invasion force. Also, many players patrol with probe ships when in FM-- no support or unhappiness and they can be armoured to be as defensible as any other ship .

                    I will assume that if the attacker has enough information to know where to land, the defender has enough to know where the attacker's territory is and therefore the most direct axis of attack. The key in all this is infiltration. If you have it on your opponents, you have some idea that a force has departed base and was headed somewhere and change your military disposition accordingly.

                    Also, I am aware of the "hiding in the fungus" tactic and the usual first location for a "fringe base" is on top of the sensor next to the fungus patch to watch for that very thing. Also its not impossible to keep a ship out on patrol even under FM. It is not always easy to maintain the vigilence required but pre-cruisers and MCC ships are usually real slow. Those transports would spend at least a few turns enroute and an alert opponent KNOWS a naval force is out there.

                    The biggest difficulty in setting up fringe bases is finding available territory and not getting into fights in the early game . Lots of times you are fighting too early or the geography is such that neighbors are too close to your core. If you start close to another faction you have to decide whether or not an immediate war is worth it. Defense in depth is not alaways achievable and in any case is not a winning tactic in and of itself. What it does do is (almost) eliminate the fear of losing a key base in a one move stroke. Fringe bases may be lost but on the loss of such base you should have the ability to strike back to prevent that base from being used as a springboard to your core.


                    • #11
                      Mostly, when I build a base, I choose the location with the expectation that it will be a nice productive mainstream base; that said . . . .

                      I've heard of, but never tried, the idea of creating early-mid game ancillary bases within the core territory, most likely within the base areas of some of their core-base neighbors, for some specialized purpose like turning out colony pods. These bases could be abandoned if/when the core bases get big enough to need the overlapped tiles and/or the specialized purpose would be better served somewhere else.

                      Sometimes I put a base up against a non-hostile opponent's territory when playing the border game. That game also includes the medium-distant bases placed in accordance with the "spread out first and fill in later" strategy mentioned above as another way to push off the opponents by putting bases in front of them. In a similar vein, I might build sea bases to preempt the AI from building too close for comfort, perhaps in places dictated by geographic location (say at a choke point in the ocean) rather than economic or military purposes.

                      If the opportunity presents itself, I might take a distant (usually sea) base that an enemy is offering (by not defending). I would generally expect to lose it, but in the case of some human players and the AI, it is often possible to have a truce in the wake of the capture, that might provide time enough to fortify the base and create a foothold near the enemy. Locusts come in handy for this kind of operation.

                      If there is a distant pactmate (but not so distant that you can't get a needlejet and maybe a warship to it), it might offer a chance to pick up a base or two if your pactmate is fighting with one of their neighbors. You can even take them from your (AI) pactmate (if the enemy takes them first) without harming your reputation; in fact I imagine they will like you all the more if you just give back 1 or 2 bases you have retaken from their enemy, even if you still have some of theirs.

                      When I'm engaged in fighting on the (AI) enemy's turf, sometimes I take over a lot more of their bases than I feel comfortable defending, mostly because it seems easier to take the bases and take my chances holding on to them than to deal with the hassles that would come out of them if I left them in the enemies control. On the other hand, an isolated enemy base can be repeatedly probed to keep it helpless and to provide $$; if it is the HQ, you can also keep the research in check. (The main problem with this is if you make peace, you're stuck with a foreigner in your territory.

                      Sometimes you can get a distant (and sometimes even a decent one) base by probing for it. If you use the total mind control option, you can even get away with doing it to a friend or neutral if you are lucky.

                      Needlejet colony pods offer the possibility of settling uninhabited islands you have seen in your travels in a more reasonable time than would be possible with regular colony pods and transports. It takes a while to get these bases going, however, as they need to build nearly everything on their own and it takes a while, even with rush builds (unless you're willing to pay the doubled rush build rate). I would especially use this to put a base neaar a "landmark" or other highly desirable spot.

                      nitpick dept.:
                      Originally posted by Velociryx More on Fringe Bases
                      . . . (re-homing the probes so that if they successfully complete their missions, they return to THIS base) . . .
                      I thought that they returned to your "nearest" base, no?


                      • #12
                        I think ya got your answers WhiteElephants..

                        Heh, without backpedaling too much (chuckles.. ) I first off want to say that I am simply too inexperienced at MP Smac to make any judgements whatsoever!

                        I DO like making statements to provoke, er, should I say, encourage discussion. The way CBN or Vel put it, no, I can't imagine I'd ever get to use my favorite strategy against them. Maybe it's my favorite b/c when I am able to make it work (1/2 success in the few hotseat games I've played) I throw the other player into the greatest panic. In SP it's quite easy to do as the AI tends to have a doughnut defense just like me in SP games...a ring of defenders and noone home in the juicy middle. Ever since I first read Vel's guide I've taken to putting my crawlers on the coast. At first I admit this seemed counterintuitive, but many an AI invasion has been turned away for lack of a landing site, which far outweighs the crawlers that suffer from more advanced (marines or airpower) invasions.

                        Ok, ok (pedals backwards), I take it back! Though I've managed to roll into the core cities of a few friends of mine, I truly doubt it possible to 'Ignore' fringe bases on the way in against an experienced and determined player.

                        One question however, How exactly do you take a core base of a well established empire without taking out the fringes first? I am assuming we are talking sometime in the mid game and not talking about the very top of the tech tree.
                        No, I've never won an MP game vs. a 'well established empire' through warfare of any kind as i think by 'well established empire' you mean by definition an empire where this is not possible. I have to admit I've never had the web of patrol or defense tight enough to make a mesh like you describe CBN. There's always plenty of holes for me, but I can imagine what you describe! Sometimes it just comes down to a player's style or a game's atmosphere I suppose.

                        Just to detail two memorable examples vs. 'not-well established empires':

                        In one case I remember building a drop rover colony pod and hopping it across the sea to land attached to my 'friends' road system. When I saw that that was possible, it was only two turns before all my drop infantry were in that base (they had been lurking in one of the waypoints) and on turn three my friend was minus one key city. My friend of course replied with choppers, but the damage was done. That's the point of such an attack. On another occasion I had the XE dome and used rovers through fungus. Both times my enemy was inexperienced and had very little defense on the interior. In both cases I would have been hard pressed to take an outlying base as they were heavily guarded. I suppose the point is that it's not too hard vs. a 'perimeter' style defense rather than a nearly homogenous blanket defense. I just love 'Needling' type attacks or raids I suppose you could call them. The point isn't to take out the enemy, just to slow them down significantly.

                        WhiteElephants, maybe you could try the settings that Ned encouraged me to try; That is, a supersize map (100x140 perhaps) with no transcend victory possible. I found the games very different than on smaller maps. It's sometimes a hassle to manage, but if you're interested in fringe bases this type of game encourages their use.

                        Visit Aldebaran:Aldebaranweb


                        • #13
                          I'm actually in a couple of MP games that are being played out on the "Huge" sized map, which will probably facilitate "fringe" bases well because the sheer amount of bases you can place before any bueracracy drones take effect.

                          Perhaps I'm overly fearful of the being infiltrated, but wouldn't a fringe base be quite likely the target of a succession of probe actions? Or are those base sufficiently stacked with probe teams as well? I would think that one would need two or three probe teams to fend off a serious probe assault especially if your on the coast. I imagine that this holds true for any base, but when I think of a "fringe" base I tend to think of a base with a low amount of mineral output. Maybe low enough to not be able to afford building probe teams in a timely manner. I suppose the production of these probes could be done by another more established base, but what I'm getting at is the cost for establishing a "fringe" base. Cost in terms of minerals and support minerals mostly. Does the production of such a small base offset the cost of units/probe teams needed to "protect" it? I suppose that the fact your getting an early warning is something that is difficult to put a value on...


                          • #14
                            Good discussion gang


                            By definition we only start to consider the idea of fringe bases once you have a well developed core worthy of protection. The web I have described isn't that unusual. Land attacks will always be seen before thay get there if you have any kind of crawler system or sensor net. IN a PBEM (my Drago challenge) I got sick of the difficulty of picking off all the probes the AI HIVE kept sendingmy way. My temporary solution was to move crawlers out as scouts while collecting a grand total of one mineral each. These two crawlers have provided ample warning of 4 different probes. Formers are enroute to add sensors so the crawlers can move to more productive squares.

                            AT sea the greater mobility makes detection of an attack tougher but also means that added forces are needed to force a landing site. With planning there are often naval choke points to patrol. In the large open sea situation or when an enemy occupies an island only a few squares off your coast these tactics of having warning bases are much more difficult or impossible.

                            The fringe base for defense is a limited tactic that is of varying utility depending on map layout but I find it very useful

                            You have hit on the one key disadvantage of more bases. .... Probe actions. I do usually send a probe with the colony pod and often build a second . and I don't stick these bases just anywhere . . . -- AT founding I will have local military superiority or I would not bother to found the thing. After all the point is to base some military there. After airpower I don't worry about the probes as much since it gets harder and harder to sneak them past air patrols .

                            Since I do not give a hoot if the base grows much or produces energy, its immediate focus would be a former and then crawlers. Since these are all cheap units I may try to spare a bit of cash for rushes if its a key area. One crawlered mine and its in business.

                            It does take a fair bit of setup and perhaps those resources could be better used but I am a paranoid defender . I figure if anyone overruns me it will NOT be because I was caught unaware.