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Author Topic: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves  (Read 16488 times)

Psieye

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Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« on: May 30, 2011, 06:56:12 pm »

We're all familiar with how horrible marksdwarves are - you might be able to get them to stand and shoot at first but after they run out of ammo they'll charge into melee. Granted you can always mod crossbows to be an awesome melee weapon but that's not a proper solution. So we've come up with the Defend Burrow method to get marksdwarves to sit behind fortifications and shoot. But that just means they don't charge into melee once they've spent their ammo - they still won't reload.

It turns out they don't like to reload when they can see hostiles. If there is no short path to charge into melee they won't suicide but they'll hang around and not reload. However they will obey Move commands and go reload once they can't see enemies. Therefore my crossbow forts now rely on a Patrol order - marksdwarves move back and forth between the shooting platform and the ammo depot (hidden from enemy view). When they see an enemy, they unload their quiver, go back to reload then come back and see enemies again so start shooting again. The shooting platform ensures there is no short path to get down to the hostiles, making marksdwarves obey the next move command instead of trying to charge.

I don't use fortifications, though they can be used with patrols if the architecture is designed properly. If I want to protect my swarm of marksdwarves I get melee dwarves to do that. There is no friendly fire - melee dwarves standing at the edge of the shooting platform act like fortifications except rookie marksdwarves aren't afraid to shoot from further back now. Even better if those melee dwarves are actually down there killing things while marksdwarves are doing their job from the shooting platform.
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Congrats, Psieye. This is the first time I've seen a derailed thread get put back on the rails.

Girlinhat

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2011, 07:02:09 pm »

Oh wow.  You did it.  You fixed crossbows...

EDIT: Added this to my signature, because I am amazed.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2011, 07:10:44 pm by Girlinhat »
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Flying Dice

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2011, 07:45:53 pm »

I don't know why, but I've never had trouble with markdwarves, once I get them to start training. I usually have my main ammo stockpile in a room in my main keep, with the fortification-walk around it, and they always run there to grab reloads and then run back to where I stationed them, without ever trying to run out my traptunnel to melee the enemies that are typically 1 tile below and 3-4 tiles away from their position, and they don't just stand there doing nothing. I don't use any sort of burrow or patrol order, just a nearby ammo stockpile and a move order to station them at a decent point on the battlements.

Due to positioning, the marksdwarves are always within 2-3 tiles of the ammo stockpile; perhaps proximity affects their willingness to pick up more ammo without being coddled? Perhaps someone has the spare time to do some !!SCIENCE!! on the effects of ammo dump proximity on the behavior of marksdwarves, specifically in terms of the relative distances between the ammo and the enemies. My thoughts were that perhaps if enemies are very near and ammo is far, they just don't move, whereas if ammo is about the same distance as the enemies, they'll reload themselves.
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Matazat

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2011, 09:23:45 pm »

From my experience, they tend to start bashing heads if you give them an attack command rather than a station command.
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Syrup Roast

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2011, 11:24:15 pm »

You know I never noticed this was a problem. My marksdwarves reload normally after emptying their quivers on the bronze colossus just behind the fortifications to their armor stand, as evident by them going to the craftsdwarf's overflowing workshop to unburden it from bolts. And the workshop is quite some distance(~30 units) from their shooting range.

You guys want me to post pics of it? I'm using .18 btw, maybe that's a factor.
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celem

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2011, 12:09:27 am »

Its a little different situation.  By using an armour stand and having them shoot through Forts you wont have the same ammo problems the OP is trying to avoid.  The real problem is their refusal to reload when they run out after being stationed somewhere with 'm' ('k' as we know causes melee in marksdwarves).

When they are firing but are still on their standard training and havent been moved from their barracks...I've not found significant hassle getting them to reload (my ammo pile is only 10~15 tiles from the pillbox)

Good research OP :)
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Girlinhat

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2011, 12:12:42 am »

So, you turn your archer's box into a barracks to get them to stay there?  Neat!

celem

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2011, 12:40:05 am »

Its amazingly effective in early years.  Untill your marksdwarves skill up they are going to get enraged by long patrol duty.  I often repell seiges without loss only to have a few new marksdwarves wig out because theyve been standing in the rain for 2 months.

Barracks/pillbox removes the need to station entirely and you can roof it.  The only time i give them station orders is actually to pull them out of the box when invading squads have elite bowmen leaders (who tend to stand behind their squad and brainshot you through the Forts, always last to die)
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Agent_86

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2011, 12:43:18 am »

Barracks/pillbox removes the need to station entirely and you can roof it.  The only time i give them station orders is actually to pull them out of the box when invading squads have elite bowmen leaders (who tend to stand behind their squad and brainshot you through the Forts, always last to die)
Really?  I've always noticed them to be leading their squad, the first in, clearing out my snipers on the battlements, making way for the rest of the gobbos to walk right into my fort.
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celem

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2011, 12:56:02 am »

I wouldnt mind if they were first in as marksdwarves tend to shoot the closest target.  Considering a block of 30 dwarves in a 6x2 room they spew a lot of fire and tend to hose the front half of squads into unconciousness with a single volley.  The problem is that they then take 5 minutes to finish off these cripples with random legshots while the leader is still firing/reloading like its going out of fashion.

Might be something to do with enemy types.  Im playing Fortress Defense at the moment and its mainly fliers who are bothering me with bowmen leaders at the back.  Since flier pathing is busted they dont path properly to the fort (why I built the pillbox in the first place) and its probably this causing their leader not to lead while the entire squad ambles about the map like a lost balloon
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Noir

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2011, 01:28:52 am »

I just put a raisable drawbridge in front of the fortifications - when they need to reload I just hide the enemies from them - then the ammo stockpile is simply behind them.

Also, I don't use burrows to keep them from running into the enemies - I just have two ways to access the archer tower: one with hatches, that I can close at will, and another via a one-way only access that leads in but not out - problem solved.

Please see the lower-left archer tower, not the upper right:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 01:32:48 am by Noir »
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I think this is less a problem and more an expression of dwarven priorities.

Acperience

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2011, 01:33:34 am »

We're all familiar with how horrible marksdwarves are - you might be able to get them to stand and shoot at first but after they run out of ammo they'll charge into melee. Granted you can always mod crossbows to be an awesome melee weapon but that's not a proper solution. So we've come up with the Defend Burrow method to get marksdwarves to sit behind fortifications and shoot. But that just means they don't charge into melee once they've spent their ammo - they still won't reload.

It turns out they don't like to reload when they can see hostiles. If there is no short path to charge into melee they won't suicide but they'll hang around and not reload. However they will obey Move commands and go reload once they can't see enemies. Therefore my crossbow forts now rely on a Patrol order - marksdwarves move back and forth between the shooting platform and the ammo depot (hidden from enemy view). When they see an enemy, they unload their quiver, go back to reload then come back and see enemies again so start shooting again. The shooting platform ensures there is no short path to get down to the hostiles, making marksdwarves obey the next move command instead of trying to charge.

I don't use fortifications, though they can be used with patrols if the architecture is designed properly. If I want to protect my swarm of marksdwarves I get melee dwarves to do that. There is no friendly fire - melee dwarves standing at the edge of the shooting platform act like fortifications except rookie marksdwarves aren't afraid to shoot from further back now. Even better if those melee dwarves are actually down there killing things while marksdwarves are doing their job from the shooting platform.

How exactly do you give them these patrol orders and why would they only follow the order after they're out of ammo instead of constantly running back and forth while shooting.
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Girlinhat

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2011, 02:06:55 am »

When a dwarf sees a hostile (be it groundhog or titan) they respond in one of two ways.  They immediately drop what they're doing and flee towards the nearest murky pool to panic and down in, or the immediately drop what they're doing and rush to attack it.  This means that patrol orders stop when a marksdwarf sees a target.  However, when they run out of ammo and they're too far away to go bashing, they will resume their patrol, which should bring them back into an ammo stockpile to reload and then back on patrol, immediately in view of the enemy again.

MonkeyHead

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2011, 02:31:06 am »

I use the burrow command to station mine, and the ammo pile is actually within the 1 tile wide burrow. I would really like to know if this method would allow them to reload...
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Noir

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Re: Auto-reloading Marksdwarves
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2011, 02:51:07 am »

Is the dwarves priority list of tasks known? It would have been useful to know that "follow patrol if you have one" has a bigger priority than "suicide uselessly against horde of foes" when ammo runs out.
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Naked dwarves remove the need to produce more clothing, which means more of your pig tails can be brewed into booze.
I think this is less a problem and more an expression of dwarven priorities.
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