This is going to be fun, leaving the AI types on random is the only way to play.
Well, the new seeding placement for the home command station came out last patch so I figured I'd take advantage.
I play lattice maps and I like my homeworld having lots of connections, gives me more strategic options.
So, game setup:
Diff 10/10 Random All Non-Tech.
Single HW + Champion
80 Planet Lattice Maps, All ships, including CSG on.
All minor factions and AI options off. (Except reveal random AI types.) This means schizio waves is off.
What's this? The new Zenith Medic on a 10 warp point homeworld? SOLD!
0 AIP auto-progress also.
And here we go.
For my random AIs I draw Special Forces Captain which is no big deal.
I draw Scorched Earth for the other.
Wait, Scorched Earth? PDS*(HFP(*HW#$_(*RHGp9fuigbapifugbdpsifngsdobf0[nbn;vcbn.........
Just so everyone is clear, when you destroy a Command Station belonging to a Scorched Earth AI type, it nukes the system as a "take that" to the human forces. So no resources and no supply in those systems.
As my expansion strategy is built around warp jammers to control which systems are on alert I can't afford to destroy a scorched earth command station until late game.
This is going to really screw my strategic options up, I can't capture half the systems on the map until I'm ready to take on the AI Homeworlds.
Anyways, the game itself.
The Galaxy Map is at the 2 hour mark but I have not made any major moves yet.
Now, with the Zenith Medic I decide to go full starship, especially with the champion enabled.
Repair my starships outside of supply? Yes, please.
It seems the RNG does not hate me entirely. Sucbulu just top right of my HW is an offroad nebula that I clear. It is the new neinzul scenario, I actually almost lose, popping 4 boxes at once is a no-no.
I am now able to build the Neinzul Modular Fortress however which is getting built as soon as I capture a second system and can afford the energy.
Unfortunately, the rest of the offroad nebulas are minimum 5 hops away, they will have to wait.
Now, turning to my regular empire and scouting. Because I play 10/10 I try my hardest to kill enough Data Centers that the AIP does not increase until my 3rd system capture.
So, scout and carve highways to move around with my starships.
Found 3 Data Centers so far, one in very top left at Lociosifi, two in the middle right in that clump at Zairann and Achizingshu.
I'm currently carving my highways, one down the left side of the map, one down the right.
It's been slow, so far I've had to kill a planetary cloak and 2 fortresses.
I got lucky on the Black Hole Machine however as I can go around that system without too much trouble.
So, I'll have enough data centers popped to capture my first system shortly, but I'm stumped as to where.
The yellow AI is the scorched earth AI, the red is the special forces. So I have to capture a red system.
I usually find an ARS close to my HW to take because it has the A-Network CSG on it but the 2 ARS I've found are on those two Mk IV's in the top left, both on yellow so they are not an option.
I'm hoping one of those systems on the bottom right that are not scouted yet are a red planet with a CSG so I can take one of them but I have not got my highway cleared down that far yet.
As for clearing highways, Zenith Medic + Starships is nice.
With both a champions and Riot shields I have enough to generally survive the Alpha damage when I warp into a system and then I start kiting with the riots which gets me out of combat long enough to refresh the repair timer so the Medics repair everything, including Champion modules if it's lost it's shield.
It's not perfect but I swarmed a Mk IV system with about 300 AI ships like that, only lost two starships.
Having said that, bomber starships are useless. I brought them along because I get them at game start but the only time they have done anything was to that FF over a guard post. I'm so unimpressed I've started leaving them behind to deal with the starships sent with the AI waves.
Which so far have been pretty easy. The biggest was a 450 ship anti-armor wave but I've got gravity turrets up, 180 or so turrets and I leave my fleet ships behind, so a cap of Mk I fighters/bombers/frigates are on hand to stonewall whatever survives the turrets.
Really, it's been a normal game so far, it's once I start popping Scorched Earth command stations that this game is going to get weird.