Allright, this is gonna be a pretty extensive guide to anybody new to AI Wars. I won't get it finished just now but here's a big start. And starting the guide up withNote: This has been written with all current expansions activated, so you may not see all options/ships etc that are in this guide if you don't have the expansions.
0. Updating your game to the latest build
- Update your game from the in game menu, don't worry when it says BETA. The so called BETa releases for AI Wars are actually more polished and staple in every way than the 5.0 release (and much more staple than most big companies official patches). Update it first thing, it's a better gaming experience.
1a. Choosing the map style and settings that suites you
- Choose Host New game (1-8 players) even for single player
- 80 planets and simple map stype is the standard and you should go with it if you're just beginning. A smaller map will be harder because there aren't enough planets for you to harvest knowledge from and the enemies homeplanets will be much closer to you leaving you with much less room to expand. A bigger than 80 planets map and the Home planets will be very far away which will make your journey there harder and the AI will also have more planets spawning enemy troops.
- Map Type : Conquest . Unless you want to play a quick game of defenders.
- If you have the expansions you can enable (glowing) or disable (not glowing) them in the map screen (next to NEW MAP SEED button). Personally, I think you should always just enable them all and limit the ship types from the ship menu (to be explained later down) since all the other bonus material they give.What does everything mean on this map screen?
Map seed 419085835
Now the map screen might look confusing. What are all those dots, lines, X2s X3s and the symbols for?
- The dots are planets, there are 80 of them with the default setting
- The lines are the wormhole bridges connecting the planets, one planet can be connected to many planets
- The X, number, say X2 unlike you would think has nothing to do with multipliers. The X marks to how many other planets the planet is connected through via wormhole. So X2 means the planet is connected to 2 other planets and ships can traverse between them.
- The Icons in the planets mean the Bonus ship type you will have at the beginning of the game if you choose to begin on that planet. You will always choose a planet with a bonus ship type.
Basically, you have 4 basic fleet ship types at the beginning. Scout, Fighter, Bomber, Frigate and the bonus ship type you choose to go with. So make that 5 ship types.
- By looking at the planet you will only see the stats for the bonus ship type, how much it costs in metal, crystal, attack power etc. There are LOTS of ships in this game. You will only learn by time to see which are suited for you and what you wanna go with.
- By looking at the planets on the map screen you will NOT SEE anything about the planet itself, how much crystal/metal it has or anything. But don't worry, all starting positions will have a very generous amount of crystal/metal for you. What you should worry about is the position of the planet.How do I know what is a good starting position?
Well, put simply. Easily defendable. You don't want a home planet with anymore than 2 wormholes connecting to it so look for planets with X2. The more connecting planets to your homeworld the more space you have to cover, Think of it this way, you wouldn't want to start a war on multiple fronts in a land war right? Well same goes here. A chokepoint is your best defense.
Taking a starting position from the up-left (the one marked with blue)This is basically a ridicilously easy starting point that I handpicked just to demonstrate what is easy to defend. Take that one planet from the up left corner and you've only got one front to defend. The enemy can only attack from one way.
The map seed is 419085835 if you want to try it. It is a good place to start your practicing the game with and then later moving on to more normal starting locations.1b. Choosing the Ship Type settings:
- Simple will have around 20 ships to go around with the game. You will learn the basic mechanics very well but there will be enough different units to keep it interesting. This is what I started with as a beginner.
- Normal is a WHOLE LOT OF SHIPS with just some of the most exotic ones missing. Use this only when you've gotten used to the game.
- Complex has every ship type available. Only for the advanced.1c. Game Options
Combat style : Normal . Use this, the game is balanced around this and the others really aren't.
Unit Cap Scale : Normal . This is really up to your machine though, if it can't handle normal try low.
Performance Profile. (60hz for me) . This is really just up to your machine.
Visibility : Full Fog Of War . I recommend Full Fog Of War as the game is balanced around it and such is the default option.1d. AI Options: Minor factions and AI modifiers
Most of this you can just read from the tooltips to see what it does. Don't turn on any AI modifiers though unless you really know what you're doing, it will make the game much harder.
From minor factions everything else is up to you but turning on Golems Hard or Spirecraft Hard will REALLY make the game much more difficult. More difficult than turning up 2 difficulty levels.
Neinzul Roaming enclaves and Neinzul Protection wardens can also be pretty pesky when you don't know what you're doing yet.
Everything else you can turn on without making the game much more difficult but adding a little bit more of random elements to the game.1e. AI Plots
Use these only when nothing is too hard for you. I only recommend these for expert players looking for challenge.1f. AI and Player Settings
On the right side of the screen you have a lot of options to set the difficulty level for the 2 AI's (yes there are always two AI's and yes they work in cooperation). I recommend starting off with one AI on Diff 4 and the other one on Diff 5 for a good first game. It will still be challenging but at least you'll stand a chance.
If you don't mind getting beaten down repeatedly to learn the ropes like I did for a time start with 6 and a 7 AI with all the minor plots on except golems/spirecraft hard.FINALLY STARTING THE GAME!!
2. Starting Up :
First let's go through the quick buttons, quickly.
- B for Build anything.
- D for Docks. This recycles all your 3 ship making factories.
- S for Science says archimedes! At least in my world.
- P for Pause.
- C to center the map (not really, it just centers on a crystal harvester but close enough)
If you have a scroll wheel be sure to use that zoom out once you begin.
Question : There is so much stuff with the quick buttons what do I do, yaarggh!!?
Alright now let's go through what the buildings, units etc. actually do.2. Explaining Build Menu, Science, Docks
2a. B for Build Menu.
Here we see four categories:
Economy, Constructers, Support, Turrets
BUILD MENU : ECONOMY
In Economy you can build Engineer Drones which basically spend your money very fast and efficiently once you start to gather it at a faster rate (that is after expanding to more planets).
The engineers speed up the process of building up of your ships in constructors and they are also used to construct new buildings, turrets, basically they just build everything. BUT REMEMBER. They only speed up the buildings if you have money, metal/crystal. So since you have so little money at the beginning you will only need a few engineers. You start with 2 which will be enough before you start to have over 50 000 excess M/C (metal/crystal) which is when you should start building up many more engineers to get things going faster.
In economy you can also build Science labs which are used to harvest Knowledge from planets. Every planet has 3000 Knowledge for you to harvest but you can only harvest from planets you have captured. Science lab 1's are the most cost efficient, there is usually no reason to build higher levels.
You can also build Energy reactors here but you shouldn't do this manually, the game has a good auto-system for energy.
BUILD MENU : CONSTRUCTORS
You usually don't need to fiddle with these much unless an enemy wave destroys your Space Dock or a Starship Constructor. OR, when you have destroyed an enemy Command Center and want to set up a new base there. That is when you build a Colony Ship.
Colony Ships are used to build new bases in planets you have destroyed the AI Command Centre. You send the Colony Ship there it builds a new base and voila, you have expanded your territory. But more on that later.
Other Constructor buildings you have are more for special cases, they have their uses but not for this part of the guide.
BUILD MENU : SUPPORT
The main thing you'll be building here are Force Fields. Force Fields are pretty self explanatory, the more you stack em' the harder it gets for the enemy to get to anything that's beneath them. Remember though, anything firing from beneath the force field does 1/4th of damage. That goes for turrets as well as ships. Place your turrets and fleet outside of force fields.
Even few Force Fields are very strong against most enemy ships but a stack of bombers can tear them apart. Bombers are weak against fighters and most small craft remember that.
Other than that, the stuff that you have in support is not that useful except for special cases. Although you can unlock many very useful things with science like fortresses, advanced warp sensors, decloakers and hardened forcefields
BUILD MENU : TURRETS
Okay, here you have a huge number of different turrets with millions of stats. What to pick? Don't concentrate on the attack power just now, focus on the Attack Multipliers. Most craft and most turrets are good against a certain hull type. You'll get more familiar with the hull types as you play more.
You'll usually be swarmed in the beginning with small craft so MLRS turrets would be your first choice. 5-10 per wormhole. Laser Turrets are anti-bomber, if you start to get lots of bomber waves these are excellent. Missile Turrets deal good raw power against anything and have excellent range so couple of these should always be present.
Tractor Beam Turrets are the most essential defense whatever you're against. One of these suckers can trap 30 enemy ships so they can't move and your other turrets and fleet can pummel them to oblivion. The enemy although immobile can still fire at the Tractor Beam turret though. Getting the tractor beam turrets under a force field is a nice move to make sure the enemy won't just destroy the turret and move on. Place at least 2 Tractor Turrets per wormhole to begin with. 5 or more when it starts to get heavy action.
2b. SCIENCE: HOW DOES IT WORK AND HOW DO I MAKE THE BEST OF IT?
Collecting Knowledge. As said before you can get 3000 Knowledge per planet and only on a planet you own. You just build science labs and they can gather it. Press ALT+Right click to make the Science labs auto gather science from planets you own.
With Knowledge points you have you can unlock anything from new economy upgrades to new ships, turrets etc.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON MOVES TO SPEND THE FIRST 10k KNOWLEDGE POINTS?
You can never go wrong with Fighters Mark II that's for sure. Fighters are super cheap and have good firepower. That's as safe a bet as can be. Other than that, it will really depend on the situation. Sometimes you can take a planet early which is when you'll want to get a Economical Command Station Mark II/III. Other times you'll need to bust down a heavy forcefield early on or even Fortress which is when you'd go with Bomber Mark II and Bomber Starship Mark II. Sometimes you'll want to have the Heavy Beam Cannon Turrets in place if you're getting swarmed by waves so you'd unlock that. Scout Mark II's and Fighter Mark II's are the only first unlocks you can't go wrong with pretty much ever. Other than that you'll just have to play it by the feeling and situation.
It has to be said that Spider Turrets are a good unlock when you have that extra 500 000k cash to really spend on them.
2c. DOCKS, STARSHIP CONSTRUCTORS AND MERCENARY DOCKS
Space Docks are where you'll make the most of your main fleet. Scout Drones, Fighters, Bombers, Frigates & your bonus ship type.
Starship Constructors bring you special commando type starships like Raid Starships, Fleet Support Starships that are Light Starships and it's upgrades and finally specialist starships like the Riot Starship that is focused on killing swarms of small craft.
Mercenary Docks are just there for when you have WAAYY to much cash (so when you are maxed at 999,999 cash) to spend. Do these ships only then.3. OK, now I know what everything does and how everything works. Let's get ready to get this shizzle on the road.3a. Advancing the game, from start to finish.
Ok, First off. Do Tractor Beam Turrets for each wormhole. Whatever turrets you use put them to shoot at max range for the wormhole (you can hold shift to place many of the same turret without having to drag it all over again). Put some defenses near your homebase as well just in case the enemy breaks through. Try to build one additional forcefield over your main base to keep it safer.
Go to your docks and put Fighters on repeated cycle. Max them out first. If you have unlocked Fighters Mark II max them out too. You should also build max scouts all the time. Choose your scouts from the right hand screen, that's where all your units and buildings are. Press TAB to go to the MAP screen. Now send your scouts to explore the all the surrounding planets. You can do waypoints for them by holding shift. Explore every planet especially around your home planet. Each planet at least 2 hops away should be good.
Now a quick Guide on intel:3b. Intel, Scout reports and what to look for
Ok, let's take for example this image.
First of all, from the planet I can see that it is a Mark II planet. A Mark III planet would have a III over it. Just like the mark IV planet has IV next to it. A mark II planet is usually quite easy to take over, while mark IV is something you wanna stay away from before building at least a full mark 2 fleet and a wholesome turret defense to withstand the backlash if things go wrong (and they often do).
All planets the AI has got are Mark II-V (mark V are their homeplanets). The only exception to this are the planets that start next to your homeplanet without numerals are Mark I planets.
On the list of info, the first line of symbols+names tells me what "goodies" are on the planet. The second line tells me what guard posts are present there and how many. The rest tells me what enemy ships are present but these are usually not that important.
So what do I know about this planet? First the goodies. It has an AI Eye which is REALLY BAD for me. AI Eye is a really bastard thing in that if I go and outnumber the enemy more than 2:1 it will just spawn more zombie units there to make up for the difference. So if the planet has say, 100 units and I march in with 300 the AI Eye will spawn 50 units so the odds are 300:150 = 2:1 again. And the AI Eye is really hard to destroy. The fastest way to get rid of it is to destroy all guard posts since it will be destroyed with all of them.
Luckily there are only 4 guard posts so it would be a fast enough job. Oh yeah, the AI eye also works as a wave gate but more about those later.
Back to the intel, it also has a Core-Shield-D-Generator. Now, this doesn't really yet concern me. In order to do any damage to the AI home planet I'd need to destroy the Core-Shield Generator network, which involves many Core Shield Generators. This is nnot really a big deal right now since I'm just getting up to speed.
The planet also has a distribution node. The distribution Node can give you a 300+k M/C bonus when destroyed. But there's a 1/5 chance you'll lose 100k. So those are pretty good odds, 4/5 chance that I win 300k. And these distribution nodes are exactly what you wanna be looking for in the beginning of the game since it allows you to build a few very costly Bomber starships with the extra cash which can be used to bombard down, well just about anything (it can only shoot at big ships and buildings though).
How do I get there though to destroy that stash? There is a mark IV planet on the way. The sad news is I really can't get there. Even with a commando raid starship the raid starship would alert the Mark IV planet on the way, which would end up in them attacking my home planet and me dying in agony. So just gotta let it be for now.
More on the intel shows the planet has Pysite and Reptite Minerals. These can be used to make special but quite expensive ships with the spire mining facility. But since I don't have the money they're not really worth much to me now.
In the very bottom I can see the planet has 1 Metal and 2 crystal available for harvesting, that's pretty poor. Although if I had a Economic Command Station Mark II/III I could still make good money be building a base on that planet.
And that's all the scout intel for that planet.
A few pointers to look for in intel:
- Always look for Distribution nodes in the early stages of the game
- Look out for mark IV planets in the early stages, don't anger them since if they're pissed and counter attack you you will die.
- Advanced Research Facilities will ALWAYS help you, look out for them
- If you have Mark 3 units, Advanced Factory will be able to produce mark 4 units3a. Advancing the game, from start to finish.
To be continued...