« on: May 16, 2011, 11:41:26 AM »
Ok then. I just looked at this after finishing writing it, and I appear to have been rather verbose. Consider yourselves warned in advance. I just started writing and included everything I remembered as I went over it in my mind. If anyone actually makes it through the whole thing, I'll be amazed. Heh.
I pretty much always play AI War as a co-op game, usually with 4-6 people, and single-player feels so different that I was never really able to get into it. It never managed to hold my interest for more than a couple hours...until now.
I was bored and had nothing else to do over the weekend other than help my girlfriend move, and I conveniently was also impatient waiting for other people to try the Fallen Spire campaign with, so I figured I could try it myself and hope for the best. Because we've been playing using fairly vanilla options lately (generally no minor factions or anything), I decided to go nuts and throw in Golems, Spirecraft, Roaming Enclaves, and the Dyson Sphere to keep me company. All expansions on, nothing disabled, 60 planet Maze B Easy, 7/7 AIs both on random easy/medium, normal caps? Sure, why not?
I started out in my little corner of the map with Infiltrators, for no reason other than that I'd never used them before. Took the dead-end planet behind me for resources and the one ahead of me at a fork in the maze path to set up my defenses and got going on the survey ship. My scouts found absolutely nothing useful nearby and a few obnoxious things like a captive human settlement and a co-processor. No easy expanding without either risking +100 AIP or guaranteed +20 from knocking the co-processor out because it blocks supply? Awesome. Oh, and the other obnoxious thing they found is that one of the AIs appears to be a Spireling, and there are Blade Spawners, Maws, Mini Rams, Stealth Battleships, and Tractor Platforms everywhere. Double awesome!
Meanwhile, I'm doing my Fallen Spire stuff, and it's time to go investigate a weird signal a few hops out of my territory. The AI is not amused, and I'm warned to "carry a big stick". I figure the couple hundred ships I brought as an escort for the survey ship should be plenty. Uh oh. We're going to need a bigger stick. After getting wiped off the map entirely in all of five minutes, I reload and try again. I usually avoid save-scumming in AI War (which is weird, because I'm all in favor of abusing it in most other games), but it was just starting to get interesting...
This time, after an absolutely ridiculous chase that nearly got me killed, I barely survive in the end, and my first city goes up, cheerfully hosing my economy in the process. Naturally I put it at my defensive planet at the fork...and then am informed that in order for it to expand, I have to clear out the planets surrounding it...which are the two I mentioned earlier. Great. At least one of them is just going to sit there un-colonized, because I'm not taking chances on +100 AIP, so I don't even get resources from it that I desperately am going to need.
As I build up my city, I explore the co-processor path and eventually discover a few handy things a few planets out, like an ARS and an Artillery Golem, so at least heading that way will do me some good, I hope. I start neutering things along the way and hope I'll be able to set up my second city at the next branch in the path so I can have a nice safe strip of space that I can either ignore or colonize if I need resources. The next shard seems to go a bit more smoothly, and I'm almost ready to plant my flag in the system I'd chosen, but then Suddenly!: CPA and exo-galactic wave! While I'm divided too thin between holding my new planet, defending my home base, and rebuilding my fleet from the shard ordeal!
Things are not looking good, as all my new planets are on the receiving end of a textbook roflstomp, and my fortified position at City One is only holding up slightly better. They chew up most of my turrets, my fortress, all of my ships, and all of my shields, and a few actually make it to my homeworld. If they hadn't been so excited about trying to kill the refugee outpost, they could've easily taken out my command center, but that little distraction bought me just enough time to finish them off.
At this point, I'm already several hours in because I'm in moderately turtly mode by default, but I go all out super ultra mega uber turtle just to be safe after that. Everything somehow gets rebuilt, City One is fully expanded and defended much more heavily, and I adopt a new policy of obliterating literally everything on every planet between me and my destination. To the point that I get paranoid and start throwing tachyon warheads at them in case that Remains Rebuilder is secretly a Stealth Battleship. You can never be too sure, because the AI is a sneaky bastard. Lightning warheads are also sprinkled liberally around to deal with incoming waves, because there are no warp gates within a couple hops of any of my remaining planets, so they just come in as loose threat, and when it gets too big to deal with using my fleet, I just explode them all. Occasionally they get Martyrs instead, just for variety.
My new "take no prisoners" plan works quite well, and my second city goes up and is as heavily fortified as my original, and then the third goes on the other branch, so no matter which way they come at me, even if they somehow get through my absurd defenses, they have to make it through two city/fortress/turret setups (two->one or three->one) before they can get to the squishy center of my territory. I feel much better about things and am beginning to have absurd resource income from all my new planets, plus plenty of Science! to upgrade my Spire goodies.
I also scrounged up some Viral Shredders from a Zenith Reserve, and the dozen or two I started with have grown to 500, then 1000, and eventually almost 2000, just by parking half of them over each wormhole in my two border cities. With support from a bunch of turrets, fortresses, and the fleet ships I leave behind, they are nearly invincible, and their numbers grow after every fight, whether it's an incoming wave or exo-galactic strike force or anything else. They are fearsome and even better fodder than my Infiltrators, which mainly see use for their awesome ability to be so cheap that it doesn't matter if they die in one hit, because if they absorb a hit that does ten times more damage than they have health instead of it hitting a more important ship, I come out ahead. I can rebuild a full cap of them in about negative three seconds anyway.
After a bit more screwing around, I completely exterminate all life in a sizable chunk of the galaxy, maybe another eight planets up to another chokepoint, which has the ARS and golem I originally found, plus another ARS, another golem and...another ARS at the end? Today's my lucky day, I guess. City Four goes at the chokepoint, I have Chameleons and MLRSes and Tachyon Microfighters, more Science! than I know what to do with, metal, crystal, and energy enough to power almost anything imaginable...and roughly 500 AIP.
I continue largely ignoring AIP, because normal fleet ships/waves are a complete non-threat at this point and throw themselves helplessly against my defensive fortifications and fleet, and even the Fallen Spire events seem feeble. I am invincible! My Shredders may be mostly dead, because they're too low level at this point to keep up with the stuff coming in, but everything else is invincible, at least. It's been 20 hours since I started, and ever since I took up my Destroy All AI crusade, I have been untouchable for hours. Nothing has come remotely close to putting a dent in my plans. I will march across the galaxy, taking every planet in my name, and the AI will be powerless to even make me slow down.
I find the Dyson Sphere a few more planets out and liberate it, just for fun. Their puny forces are no match for me or the AI at this point, but it's entertaining to watch them pester the AI, and it seems to really piss them off, so I like it. Shard five is mine, my first four cities are maxed out, my Spire fleet is maxed out, and life is good. I place my fifth city, build it up, and prepare to liberate its neighbors so they can join my glorious empire. AIP is around 700, but who really cares at this point? Oh no, 1300 Vorticular Cutlasses are heading my way. Whatever shall I do? They'll survive about 15 seconds. Yawn.
Hmm. This planet doesn't seem terribly enthusiastic about becoming my friend. It's Mark IV, and there seem to be an awful lot of ships here. Maybe I should've gotten a little more worried several hours ago when it started giving me messages about ships being put in carriers and barracks on planets I've never even heard of because I hadn't gotten scouts that far. Eh. Whatever. I'm sure it'll be fin-...EMP Guardian? Oh dear. There goes the half of my fleet that I brought with me. Guess I'll have to rebuild it and try again.
Meanwhile, the planet reinforces heavily as I'm clearing threat out from the other side of the galaxy and cranking ships out, but I assume it'll be ok if there aren't anymo-...EMP Guardians? In my system? It's more likely than you think! Make that a train of EMP Guardians, one going off in each of four consecutive systems. Dammit, AI. Don't make me have to put you back in your place.
I hold it off just fine before it gets to anything important and finish clearing out that Mark IV planet...just in time to notice that my scouts finally made it through there now that I've taken out the Tachyon Guardians, and they discovered that one of the homeworlds is two hops away...and for bonus points, it's now very angry because Tractor Platforms have dragged my ships all over it while I was fighting in the area. Suddenly this seems a lot less good than a few minutes ago.
Shortly after that, the AI decided to follow my lead and obliterated everything in its path, i.e. all my stuff, with dozens of Stealth Battleships, Tractor Platforms, and Blade Spawners, plus hundreds to thousands each of several high-Mark fleet ships. 27.5 hours, and all I had to show for it was a gigantic train of death parading across my territory. I didn't even bother trying to stop it after it made it through the second city in its way. I just sat back and watched. It was rather impressive how quickly they chewed through stuff.
Could I have prevented it? Sure, if I'd scouted better, but at no point did was I ever able to find a Factory to make Mark IV scouts (or anything else), despite controlling 24 planets out of 60 and having brute-forced a couple planets farther in each direction. I was over-confident after how easy of a time I was having, and I was unprepared for anything that might actually fight back. Oh well. So much for that campaign.