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Author Topic: Melee in firefights  (Read 900 times)

Icerose20

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Melee in firefights
« on: 03 November 2018, 01:01:07 »
Not exactly the best way to headline my question, but couldn't figure out a better way to ask the question

While playing the HBS Battletech game, i came upon a pericular situation.

Fighting a lance of battlemech, my lance find its first target a Griffen-1S.  My Mirage Firestarter jump behind it 3 hexes away.  The Griffen Turns around and punches the Firestarter.

I Still have my Griffen-1S, my Wolverine-6M and my King Crab, which has 2 ac-10s with 4 tons of ammo, instead of the AC-20s.

The Enemy Griffen has turned its back to me.   So you know exactly what happened next.

The Computer still had a Quickdraw moving behind the Griffen, with a Shadowhawk and a Dragon of to my left, but shield by a hill.

I understand this was a computer algorithm, but still the computer saw my Wolverine and Griffin, so there was no hiding what was going to happen.  My playing experience would be to move said Griffen away from the impending problem and get help from the Quickdraw that was behind it.   

While movement is supposed to be simultaneous in Tabletop, its still i move, then you move, so there is an act and react to movement. 

I guess my question is what the computer did the right move, or would my move be the right move.  Or is there another move that could be considered. 

Atarlost

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #1 on: 03 November 2018, 13:28:13 »
It certainly made the wrong decision.  If it wanted to melee it should have jumped to place the firestarter between it and your other mechs. 

If your mechs were already in position when it made its move it was bad programming, but it's very hard for an AI to predict your moves.  It has to look at all of your possible moves because it has no intuition to filter them.  Your own Griffin has 90 possible moves just from jump movement.  For comparison a queen has at most 28 moves, a rook or bishop 14, a king or knight at most 8, and a pawn at most 4 and no chess board configuration can give most of the pieces most of their moves.  And it has to do this for all of your mechs yet to move, not just one chess piece.  Then it has to try all of its own moves for each of your moves.  Then it has to either do a statistical analysis of possible damage or run a Monty Carlo simulation, and only then can it pick its move for which your best move is least good. 

And it still needs to analyze the board state or it will ignore objectives to avoid engagement in order to preserve its forces any time it faces superior opposition.  That's its own problem. 

Luciora

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #2 on: 03 November 2018, 13:42:18 »
Programming game AIs is pretty hard, just look up all the work that's gone into the Princess AI for Megamek and that's years of development.

Daryk

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #3 on: 03 November 2018, 14:39:29 »
Also, don't forget that HBS departed significantly from the table top rules, so what might be "right" in one game may bear little resemblance to the other.

Greatclub

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #4 on: 03 November 2018, 18:59:00 »
Turning your back on other mechs has it's place. Yesterday I advised my team-mate to ignore a Rokurokubi and let his Shrike's armour take it in order get a decent shot himself.

Ignoring the amount of firepower the AI did is another thing. It screwed up, full stop.

Between the two are various shades of grey.

Icerose20

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #5 on: 03 November 2018, 19:33:21 »
I guess for me, when the AI did that I was preplexed then questioning my own reaction to it. 

While soem would say, if you win, you are right, you lose, I am not that person.   It has been 15 years since I played tabletop, and maybe, maybe, the tabletop meta had changed since then. 

From the response so far, it hasn't. 

Daryk

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #6 on: 03 November 2018, 19:39:18 »
The tabletop hasn't changed... HBS did, though.

StoneRhino

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #7 on: 06 November 2018, 03:03:16 »
In the tabletop, it really depends on who you are playing against. Some people are ....well..they play differently then others. I won't go into the possible reasons that someone would actually pull that exact move off.

I have seen people rush a lone mech into a pack of opposing mechs that have yet to move even though the rushing mech is not designed for close range fights.

I have had someone suggest that I move a jenner to a hill that was in the middle of a map because an opposing jenner had decided to move behind it for cover.

I have seen people rush an entire force through a narrow channel

I have also used a unit as bait

Sometimes the individual is looking for a high pay-off to a high risk move. Other times they are just not thinking beyond a certain level of play. Other times, its just busting out the wild card.

The AI went for a punch, but if it was the tabletop chances are someone pulling such a move would have went for a kick instead in the hopes of knocking off a leg on a lighter mech. The player may have tried such a move because they are inexperienced or into high risk moves. What they did with their remaining units would show which one they are. If they used their units to force you to go for that backshot at a huge risk, then they are making a calculated risk where they could cripple your light at the cost of a medium, but making you pay a price for it. IF they just did random stuff with their remaining units that did not force you to question if that backshot is worth X , where X is whatever negative option he developed for you to take, then hes just inexperienced.

That griffin might have been shot to pieces, but if it was a difficult shot or forced you to move into a bad position then it may be worth it. The difficult shot soaks a lot of your attacks in the hopes of a payoff of a backshot. How many backshots you'll land is unsure and we don't know how many will hit the same rear torso locations. Additionally, if he can knock out your light mech that is most likely to get shots on his rear armor and he can control your remaining units as to prevent shots on his rear armor then havign that armor stripped will mean little. Its really a risk for a critical hit. Also, if you fire everything at the griffin then that saves a lot of frontal armor on his other units that may have been easier to hit, but did not have the allure of a backshot.

If the AI made that move as a calculated risk, I would be impressed. Unfortunately, I haven't played the game for a while because I have been busy, but also because its normally just a matter of kicking the AI around.

SD501st

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #8 on: 06 November 2018, 09:31:48 »
It certainly made the wrong decision.  If it wanted to melee it should have jumped to place the firestarter between it and your other mechs. 

If your mechs were already in position when it made its move it was bad programming, but it's very hard for an AI to predict your moves.  It has to look at all of your possible moves because it has no intuition to filter them.  Your own Griffin has 90 possible moves just from jump movement.  For comparison a queen has at most 28 moves, a rook or bishop 14, a king or knight at most 8, and a pawn at most 4 and no chess board configuration can give most of the pieces most of their moves.  And it has to do this for all of your mechs yet to move, not just one chess piece.  Then it has to try all of its own moves for each of your moves.  Then it has to either do a statistical analysis of possible damage or run a Monty Carlo simulation, and only then can it pick its move for which your best move is least good. 

And it still needs to analyze the board state or it will ignore objectives to avoid engagement in order to preserve its forces any time it faces superior opposition.  That's its own problem.

It's not possible to use a regular melee attack out of jump in the BT PC game. You either have to walk/run(not sprint) into melee or do a DFA attack.

The AI likely saw the Firestarter inside it's formation as a massive threat. Since the Firestarter jumped(and presumably with the Evasive Movement pilot skill?) it likely had 4-5 evasion pips, which means that it is almost impossible to hit with ranged weapons until those pips are removed one by one... it's not possible to remove more than one pip per Mech firing on it, so at most the AI could have removed 4 this round. The last of its Mechs's to attack this round would still have to fire through two evasion pips and on a light Mech that is harder to it to boot... and then it would have been out of attacks. So, the AI decided to take it out as priority, and did the only thing that can remove remove evasion pips in their entirety and also ignores them regarding it's to hit chance... a melee attack. It didn't go for a DFA, because that doesn't ignore evasion pips and would thus be unlikely to hit at all.

My guess as to why the AI decided that the Firestarter was the highest threat priority is that it looked at the composition of both lances and calculated that it wouldn't be able to win a straigh shootout versus the heavily armored King Crab, instead needing to outmaneuver it and take out the players two mediums first in order to stand a chance... but as long as an enemy Mech more maneuverable than its own is right there it can not do that unhindered. It needed the initiative(as in the tactical initiative, not the order in which the Mech's move  ;)) and to be able to move as it wants, and the Firestarter was directly in the way.

It may not have been the wisest choice or most realistic choice since treating your Mech's as expendable chess pieces isn't realistic at all in universe but I can certainly see why the AI decided to take out the Firestarter even at the cost of one of its own Mechs. However, it actually IS a realistic simulation of how a lot of human players behave. They do the exact same thing(treating the units as expendable chess pieces) in pick up games/skirmishes where there is no aftermath and only a win or a loss.  ^-^
« Last Edit: 06 November 2018, 09:42:01 by SD501st »

Kovax

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #9 on: 06 November 2018, 13:19:05 »
I'm assuming that SD501st is overthinking and overestimating the abilities of the AI.  It's a simple analysis of risk versus reward, and the closest and clearest threat at the current distance, and possibly the best potential reward for an attack, was the Firestarter right next to its units.  If the King Crab had been closer, it would most likely have become both the biggest threat and the best target.  In other words, the AI will look at its best chances of doing the most POINT VALUE damage, and shoot at that target.  The shots on the FS will be a significant fraction of its value, while those same shots at the King Crab will most likely score minor armor damage.

I've been known to run a fast passably armored high-end Light or fast Medium past an opponent in order to draw fire at so-so odds, versus having them take higher odds shots at my heavier element plodding inexorably forward.  It will usually pay off in another turn or two when my practically undamaged heavies get up close and personal, at the expense of some damage to a maneuver element that may have already done its preliminary job removing enemy scouts.

Colt Ward

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #10 on: 06 November 2018, 14:03:23 »
Actually, HBS AI is not that bad, and I will say I think the program went with just his first paragraph.  The 2nd paragraph is how a player reasons it out to themselves, but all the AI needed was the 1st paragraph.  Maybe a single addition IMO, and that is what Flamers do . . . I do not know about you, but when I play HBS I kill Firestarters as soon as I can b/c I do not need them giving me loads of heat.  My Firestarters are loaded up with flamers and a single ML & SL- so armor, flamers and those two lasers . . . because I DO like to overheat and shut down opposing mechs, usually something like a TBolt, Orion or later on Awesomes.
Colt Ward

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Daryk

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #11 on: 06 November 2018, 20:19:48 »
I loaded up my Firestarter with Small Lasers.  It was a total murder machine for vehicles, even heavies.

Icerose20

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #12 on: 06 November 2018, 21:14:36 »
HBS Flamers can only be used 4 times before they are expended, and no way to increase the ammo, so to me, they are wasted weight and space.

I usually up armor my Firestorms and put 3 MLs, and either 4 MGs or 3 SLs.  Use them as light mech hunters, and back stabbers.  I also make my Jenners, 7Fs.

Colt Ward

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #13 on: 06 November 2018, 23:16:16 »
4 times is usually enough if you put your spotter in the FS9 since it does not need to burninate something every turn . . . I can spot, spot, and then swing in on one where I can either walk or DFA to a target, then run off to spot again.
Colt Ward

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Kovax

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #14 on: 07 November 2018, 12:20:51 »
HBS Flamers can only be used 4 times before they are expended, and no way to increase the ammo, so to me, they are wasted weight and space.
Being able to negate or trivialize the firepower of the most dangerous opponent for 4 turns, if not shut it down completely, can be an extremely powerful tool.  Thing is, it's situational: excellent for some situations, not all that helpful in others.  It also depends on how you play the game.  Ultimately, just use whatever works for you, and you can take a pass on whatever doesn't.  The options are there.

theagent

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #15 on: 25 November 2018, 12:54:25 »
Actually, HBS AI is not that bad, and I will say I think the program went with just his first paragraph.  The 2nd paragraph is how a player reasons it out to themselves, but all the AI needed was the 1st paragraph.  Maybe a single addition IMO, and that is what Flamers do . . . I do not know about you, but when I play HBS I kill Firestarters as soon as I can b/c I do not need them giving me loads of heat.  My Firestarters are loaded up with flamers and a single ML & SL- so armor, flamers and those two lasers . . . because I DO like to overheat and shut down opposing mechs, usually something like a TBolt, Orion or later on Awesomes.

Also, I’ve noticed that the AI goes out of its way to go after targets that it thinks are ‘weaker’ (or at least focus-firing on a single target to try & kill my pilots).  Out of the OP’s force, the Firestarter was definitely the weakest target.  Plus, a Griffin doesn’t have a lot of options when it’s overheated, so trying a punch (drops your heat down in HBS) might have been one of its better options.

Caedis Animus

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Re: Melee in firefights
« Reply #16 on: 02 December 2018, 15:51:00 »
The AI in HBS gets very... Aggressive, when it comes to targeting a specific target. I've seen 3 AI battlemechs melee my Kintaro to the ground, and then all three melee it again on the subsequent turn.
I prefer the term "Aggressive remodeling".