It's not entirely bad AI, it's stance vs tactics

So. You’re a HW/HW:C vet. You know how movement works. You know how to attack or force attack to position for frigate fleet for maximum efficiency. You have faith in you fighters and vettes to engage only when ordered or when fired upon. And you accomplish all of this manually without ever needing to change your tactic from F3. Because F3 means follow orders.

Then you try all of this in HWR, and it feels like none of your pilots and skippers know how to follow orders. They run full speed into the closest danger they can find. If you’re like me, you end up yelling at your monitor “wtf are you doing dumbass!” Trying to grab and pull him back only to watch your newly built ion go up in a puff of smoke. Or you pull your fighters behind your frigate line so your Ions can deal with the Flaks first, only to have rouge leader think the force is with him and lead your fighters their destiny. So if you’re like me, you just think the AI is horrible in HW2.

But wait! There is a reason for this apparent lack of discipline that would lead half your fleet to big chicken dinners.

F2, F3, and F4 are similar between Homeworld and Homeworld Jr. So similar that it’s easy to over look one BIG difference between the two that if you don’t know about and manage, you’re herding cats. The HW2 guys know about this. And it’s so burned into them that they either really don’t know what we’re talking about, or are just trolling us waiting on us to figure it out.

So the difference. A unit in F3 in HW1 would only fire if fired upon itself. In HW2 a unit in F3 will attack if ANY friendly unit is fired upon. Imagine it similar to every unit on F4 by default except it still waits for the enemy to fire first. This already being a fundamental part of HW2, these guys are switching between F2, F3, and F4 as naturally and for the right reasons as you add reinforcements to a group (select new, shift +1, ctrl + 1). They use space, military select, F2 as units build. Then switch to F3 or F4 for other reasons as the situation dictates. And they use the hell out of the ‘S’ stop command.

So now for the real question. Which is better?

I ask both sides to debate this. Try to leave out what-you-know bias and debate the systems on use and merit alone. How could either be improved say if there is a way to find a middle ground? Are their other little nuance differences that should be pointed out? I’m still not sure if F4 is required to continue to attack while moving (move while engaging) but some think it is.

One thing is for sure. We cannot have it both ways. This is fundamental AI behavior that can only be one way, so hopefully an agreement or at least an understanding can be reached.


P.S. This has nothing to do with Assault frigates not facing targets they attach as far as I know. That’s probably dumb AI.

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Speaking for myself here, I think I can get used to the HW1 F3 just like I got used to HW2 F3. There are negatives and positives for both.

Problem with HW2 F3 is just that - sometimes I want some ships to stay back and don’t engage, so I either move them farther back from the battle or use F2 to keep them still. The benefit of HW2 F3 is that your entire strike group will retaliate together, which can help if you’re not tracking it constantly and enemy ships close in. I don’t really want two of my BCs sitting back enjoying the show while one brave captain decides to charge in alone.

In HW2 F3 is also useful for motherships/carriers/shipyards/refineries - they fire back on anything that bothers collectors. If HW1 F3 is introduced, we’ll just have to place those on F4 all the time.

In the actual engagements where both sides are using micro constantly this stuff stops to matter anyways. You need to constantly re-target and pull back, so that damaged ships live longer and your ships can’t be sniped easily.


I’m about to launch a thread explaining this in more detail. It sound like a basic obvious statement. But I’m betting a lot of people don’t know the benefit and complexity of this.

Like I describe in another thread, this is largely because a ship’s “leash” range (How long they’ll leave their position before snapping back) can’t be changed mid game by the stance/tactics. So you can’t make ships be told not to chase far. Ship behaviors basically get “compiled” at map load and are static except for a few hard coded changes based on stance.

And isn’t Evasive/Passive even worse? HW2 removed Evasive in favor for Passive.
This could very likely be me speaking from inexperience with HW2 especially, but what is the actual tactical point in “Passive”? With Passive they don’t attack back or anything. Is it to purposefully let ships die for some SP missions or something?

Actually I’m confused on something else, will ships on “defensive” actually chase more than like 3k units before returning to their original position or between that position and a leash range? Or is it only a “guard” order that leashes them?

Ok, scenario time. I am a HW1 player vs a HW2 player. I have my attack force at the enemy MS. My attack force consist of the following.

45 mixed inties/bombers/defenders
3 support frigates
4 ion frigates.

defenders are clouded around the ion support fleet, supports attached to ions, inties/bombers stripping mods.

From his carrier comes 2 flak frigates and 1 finishes from his MS before my bombers strip the FF mod.

I tell my fighters to Dock on the support frigates because I don’t want them to die to the flaks that just showed up.

On F3, right after each of the fighters finish docking, they will immediately fly right back into battle and get chewed up by the flak frigates.

On F2, they will stay docked, out of the way, until until my ions and defenders clear the flaks out.

Scenario 2. I am a HW1 player (because you wouldn’t believe me if I told you I was a HW2 player :stuck_out_tongue:) with a mixed frigate group attacking an enemy MS. My ms and carrier are 5k away feeding my frigate force, MS has a destroyer 60% built. From the enemy MS pops out a destroyer. I pull my FF fleet back behind my MS so they don’t all get destroyed by the DD, buying time for my DD to finish.

As I pull them back and they disengage and start moving, but the DD starts firing on them. 2 newly built frigates pop out from my MS, on F3, notice the attack on my retreating FF fleet and go charging in. DD targets them and I cannot pull them back fast enough to live because I didn’t catch and F2 them as soon as they finished building. F2, they wouldn’t have charged into their demise.

Make since now?

Well it didn’t answer what I asked at all really. I knew those things except the staying docked bit.

So what bsides docking and keeping ships from chasing(which defensive and passive both does in HW1, no?), what benefit does passive have?

I don’t get why “evasive” couldn’t also keep them docked, while not having the other useless things that come with f2.

It’s my understanding that in passive in HW2, ships don’t attack(which is the only reason they won’t chase after things). And in HW1, they do, but they don’t chase far away and they dodge fire. I don’t see any benefit to passive over evasive besides to stop other broken behaviors HW2 units have.

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Sorry to not answer your question to your satisfaction. Not sure if there could be a better reason then units won’t take off and die on their own when they are on passive, which was default F3 behavior in HW1. What more of a reason do you need?

The primary point here is one big difference that changed between HW1 and HW2 that fundamentally changes how units act in their default stance/tactic.

I’ll let others argue evasive vs passive. I only ever used evasive if I was trying to buy time with a smaller force that I knew I was going to lose. And aggressive acted about the same I guess. Unless I find out for sure that F4 is required for move attacks

But in HW1 couldn’t you make units not take off and chase to their death, while also not just sitting there letting themselves be killed with 0 retaliation?..

Yes, it was the default behavior. F3, Neutral. :flushed:

This is in the Op. What is confusing about this statement. Please let me know and I will reword.

It’d be easier to read if you bullet pointed the behavior. I’m not really following.

Sort of like

HW1 Evasive

  • Increases maneuverability
  • Decreases DPS
  • Increased fuel usage
  • Ships break into pairs in formation and defend each other from attackers
  • Will chase a short distance then return back, IIRC.

HW1 Neutral

  • If not given orders, stay at their current position and only turn to attack targets

HW2 Passive

  • Stay docked after docking
  • ???
  • Don’t they just sit there not doing anything, not even attacking back? I don’t get the purpose of this besides to not undock…

HW2 Neutral

  • ???
  • Chase some distance if not given orders I think?

So the difference:

  • A unit in F3 in HW1 would only FLY OFF AND ATTACK (fire was inaccurate, they would shoot, but not move) if THEY were fired on.
  • A unit in F3 in HW2 will FLY OFF AND ATTACK if ANY FRIENDLY unit in range is fired upon.


The difference above is when they would fly off and attack. THEMSELVES vs FRIENDLY ALLIES NEAR BY

Oh an no you misunderstood. Actually I typed it in a way that misunderstood you. When I said ‘stay docked’ I meant the docked and proceeded to parade formation at the support frigate instead of flying back into battle. Sorry to confuse you there.

Could you list off how the behavior works for both games and each stance/tactic though, in the best detail you can manage?

You said you described HW2 F2 but I don’t see it… Do HW2 passive units attack, or not? I thought they didn’t.

They do not, and that is the point. This is a behavior that used to exist in F3 in HW1 default that was moved to F2 in HW2.

And no I’m not listing off in detail every behavior in all stances/tactics. I’m only concerned with what looks like bad AI but is really just a default behavior change that had at least me confused. Hints the OP title. The other behavior I may be concerned with is the F4 requirement in HW2 for move attack orders that existed in F3 for HW1.

Hold on.

Is there any advantage HW2 F2 has over HW1 F2? I don’t feel that this ever properly got explained?

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Yeah I’ve just been left more confused but I give up. It keeps sounding like what I thought was wrong, but then oh wait it’s right, and it was confusing with how it’s written. Like do passive in HW2 retaliate at all? Ratamaq made it sound like it’s the same as HW1 Neutral, which would mean they do when fired on, but I don’t think that’s right? I would think they would as a group if it is true.
I’d have to do tests to really see I guess.

It’s my understanding that “passive” only follows orders to a fault. They will just sit there and die if you don’t give an attack order. If you give an attack order, they’ll do it.
I don’t see how this would be at all superior to actually shooting at things that get in attack range, but not moving after things.

It sounds like we were on the same page all along…

It’s not about HW2 F2 vs HW1 F2

Its about HW2 F2 vs HW1 F3.

If you want old HW1 default, F3, units-don’t-go-off-attacking-crap-on-their-own behavior, you have to put those units in F2.

This is a rules of engagement change between the two games.


Because maybe it’s a bad idea for all of your fighters to go flying straight into a group of Flak frigates? Not all of your units need to be attacking all the time. And maybe you don’t want to move them half way across the map to make sure they don’t fly off on their own into certain death.

But that’s not what I said.
“shooting at things that get in attack range, but not moving after things”. This is what wall formation did in HW1.

Also in HW2 f3 is called “defensive”. They attack as a group when attacked. It should be called Neutral again, really.
What I don’t get is why HW2 passive doesn’t basically work like wall does, where ships will fire on things in range. Call it “defensive” instead.

Passive is useless except to make things not move, which is just silly. Why doesn’t it just make them not move but they will attack? I don’t see the advantage except to stop the stupid behavior they can do in other stances. What would be so bad about that?..