This is a catalog of common (and not-so-common) choices in Grobots strategy.
Gatherers grow faster than solar-powered sides, but only when they have enough territory.
Food sharing and segregationEdit
When two gatherers try to eat the same food, they waste time pushing each other, so only one at a time gets to eat. Even if both could eat at once, they don't get more food. Sides that avoid this can grow much faster.
The simplest way to do this is to stake claims: when a cell starts eating a food, it announces this, and other cells ignore that food (unless they're desperate).
Segregated Eaters gets its name from its preventive approach: it assigns each gatherer to a different region, so gatherers can eat freely without fear of collisions.
Fool doesn't prevent collisions, but it detects them: when it's pushed off food, it looks elsewhere.
Many sides use syphons heavily to transfer energy between types. This lets them separate gathering, construction, and fighting, often allowing faster growth and more powerful fighters. They're also fun to watch.
Gases vs. coloniesEdit
Most gatherers spread out Warren calls them gases, because they expand to fill the available space, and exert pressure in all directions, just like real gases.
Some gatherers, and almost all solar sides, form a single colony. This makes them easier to defend, and makes interactions between cells easier, and often makes them pretty, but it limits their ability to exploit territory if it's available.
Interaction with other sidesEdit
War and peaceEdit
Most sides attack everyone they see. This defends them from enemies, but it also means they get into unnecessary fights. In typical rounds, total biomass drops for the first 1500 rounds.
Grobots is a zero-sum game, but interactions between two sides in a many-sided game aren't zero-sum, and fights tend to hurt both sides, which means fighting is usually a bad idea. So far, few sides have tried to make this decision explicitly, despite its importance. Those that have tried, such as Grudge, have had mixed results.
- If the enemy runs away, you can score a bloodless victory. Against stray gatherers, this often happens.
- Waiting for the other side to shoot first can put you at a disadvantage if they actually do.
The simplest way to deal with enemies is to shoot at them - but the second simplest is to run away, and it works better for lightly armed cells such as gatherers.
Sides that stay near walls or in corners can often avoid attracting their notice so often, which reduces their death rate, especially in the early game. Productive, Shields + Cowards, Move Zig!, and Cyclops all start the game by moving to the nearest corner. Taking the corner is risky (especially for the initally unarmed Productive), but its helps them later, which accounts for much of their success.
If a colony eats all the nearby manna, it leaves a dark shadow on the minimap. The lack of food reduces the risk of attracting enemies. This is particularly important for forcefield gathering, because their shadows can be very dark and can extend far away from any cells.
It's possible to improve your score by killing other sides, if your kill ratio is higher than 1 / your score. For example, if there are ten sides with 10k biomass each, and one annihilates another while losing only 2k, the winner's score *drops* from 10% to 9.1%. Later in the round, if there are fewer sides left and you score is 35%, the same 5:1 kill ratio improves your score.
Taking territory for manna can also benefit you, if your losses are light. It's easy when enemies run away. If you're starving, you'll die anyway, so fighting for food is a necessary risk.
The number of sides that are serious threats is often low. If you're facing Active and eight copies of Gunner, you're essentially in a 1x1 game, which is zero-sum. So fighting Active helps you as long as your kill ratio is better than the ratio of your scores. (Admittedly this is hard to achieve against Active. And it's hard to tell which sides matter.)
Similarly, because gases compete for manna, they're in more danger from each other than from other sides, so attacking another gas may help you even if reduces your score in the short term.
Nearby sides will still be nearby later, so weakening them can also help you later.
Many sides focus on economy early, and militarize later, so you can get a good kill ratio against them early.
High kill ratios aren't uncommon, because once you've killed a side's army, you can massacre its civilians with no further losses.
Small attacks can have a limited downside risk and a large potential upside. If you attack a side and it doesn't put up significant resistance, then you can just continue killing it. If it defends itself, you lose only the cell you attacked with.
Ocean Front's Albatross wanders the map throwing grenades in all directions. Enemies often respond and attack each other, allowing Ocean Front to dispose of them for the cost of a few cheap Albatrosses. This isn't common, but maybe it should be.
Concentration of forceEdit
As in real warfare, a solitary fighter is weak - it's necessary to concentrate force to win large battles. (Missiles are sometimes an exception to this.)
The simplest way to concentrate force is to swarm: when there's a battle, summon fighters from all over to help. This is easy to implement, and was introduced in one of the first user sides, Gnats. It's a big help, but it doesn't completely solve the problem, because the scattered fighters tend to arrive one by one, and die one by one, without accumulating a significant force.
Sides can reduce this problem by keeping their fighters in a group. Commune, for instance, keeps its fighters near its colony, which means they all arrive at roughly the same time. (It also helps that Commune's fighters have 400 armor, so even if they don't arrive simultaneously, it takes a long time to kill them.)
Sides which move their armies in formation solve this problem completely. Cyclops, for instance, keeps its army in rigid formation in order to use decoys, and it doesn't have a problem with stragglers.
Many sides don't fight unless they can see an enemy. This is dangerous, because they're vulnerable to long-range attacks - cells that ignore
Many sides deal with this by watching for shots, and following the shots back to their source.
A weapon is useless if you're not in range to fire it, so almost all sides try to fight at the limit of their range, so they'll be able to fire and their shorter-range enemies won't. This often means shorter-ranged sides charge toward a fight while longer-ranged ones retreat, so short-range fighters tend to push enemies away.
If one side has advantages in both range and speed, successful range regulation means it never gets hit, so instead of a battle it can have a massacre (at least until it runs out of energy). This threat means that most short-to-mid-range fighters have enormous engines and carry a lot of energy.
Small, well-armored cells can protect others from a great deal of damage, especially if they dodge and stay in formation. Cyclops does this successfully.
Dodging shots can greatly reduce the amount of damage a fighter takes, at a small cost in energy, so it's very popular. There are two forms:
- Passive dodging is when cells move to be harder to hit. Usually this is a periodic pattern - circles, zigzags, or back and forth - but random acceleration also helps.
- Active dodging uses a shot-sensor to detect individual shots and move to avoid them. Current implementations are very complex and very effective, at least against long-range enemies.
Cells with passive dodging often dodge only when they expect attack (e.g. when they've recently seen a shot); even though this involves reacting to shots, it's still considered passive, because it doesn't involve reacting to individual shots.
Friendly fire avoidanceEdit
Disorganized mobs with blasters suffer from friendly fire. Sides can avoid this with rigid formations or by looking for allies with a robot-sensor (or by radio) and checking that none of them are in the line of fire.
Forcefields have not been explored in combat much. Here are some possibilities:
- Use them for range control. Early versions of Revenge Killer did this, but after rules changes weakened forcefields, later versions abandoned it in favor of larger engines.
- A side that pushes nearby enemies away can escape their notice. Untouchable does this (as well as some accidental range control). This probabaly works better for sides that don't send gatherers out to attract attention.
- Flyswatting uses a forcefield to make a target conform to a prediction, so it's easier to hit. This has not been tried yet; for Untouchable the forcefields make hitting the targets much harder.
- Plucking uses a force field to pull an unsuspecting target away from its allies, to somewhere you can kill it easily. This has not been tried yet.