Yes, they're pretty tough. I'm working on various changes right now, one is to reduce their range from 83000 to 25000 so that they don't get such an overwhelming overlap effect.
That would help. Still, why so much range and power for something so ubiquitous, for an "Easier" AI?
Well, for one, it's the only bonus the AI gets. Two, 25000 isn't nearly as much as 83000. Three, I've mentioned before that I'm going to cut them from every wormhole to 66% at Diff 10 and 33% at Diff 1 (scaling linearly inbetween). Four, they don't have *that* much power; a Viral Cluster MkI hits for 8000, and a MkV hits for 40,000. A MkI Fighter has 58,000 hp. The main difficulty right now is that you get caught in the cross fire of multiple viral clusters since they're on all wormholes and have effectively-sniper range.
As I see it, most of the player ships don't have nearly the range to shoot clusters on the other side of the map.
But quite a few of them can hit them from well outside "antagonize" range (which is roughly 4000, iirc).
Maybe a control node for this?
Maybe later on, the situation is still very much in flux.
Just a slightly off topic comment, but would it be unbalanced to increase the range of the siege starships a bit?
Yes, there are several things that are calculated to have just a bit more range than a siege so as to not be trivially disposed of by them
They are currently so fragile, that range is the only thing that keeps them alive
Yes, that's all that keeps them alive if they are not protected by other units. A failure to protect your artillery will result in ex-artillery
And most (actually, I think _all_) the huge-range stuff in CoN (more than a siege) is part of a minor faction, AI type, or AI plot. So you have a fair degree of control over how much of that you encounter.