A friend and I started our 4th game together (which would turn out to be our first co-op win) with a Random Hard 7.6 and a Random Hard (non-Tech) 7.6 AI on an 80 planet map with every minor faction, etc. etc. None of the "this is just plain harder" options (doubled waves, etc.).
I took Impulse Reactor ships (which I have found a love for) and he took Deflector Drones, IIRC. We conquered our little corner of the galaxy
which we expanded into East and South first; all 13 planets held off by a single chokepoint where we conquered a Planetary Shield Booster. Nice find. Which we turret'd the h*ll out of
. By the end of the game at least 189 Tractor, 96 Tractor Mk2, 85 Tractor Mk3, 20 Flak, 219 Basic Turrets, 194 MLRS, 138 MLRS Mk2, one player's worth of Heavy Beam Cannos (Mk1 to Mk4, as they were unlocked). Numbers based on my last local save about 4 game-time hours prior to the finish.
Zenith trader came though. We bought a Planetary Shield Inhibitor. Next time around, a Black Hole Machine, unlocked Grav Turret Mk2 and dropped two of those down. Next trade ship we went "what else can we buy? HOW ABOUT A SUPERFORTRESS?" So I did. I was at max resources and just threw engineers at it (Mk5, as we had by this point ventured down to Vod and Colony for a Ex:Fab and an Adv. Research IIRC--5 jumps out from Horst, which was just within Transport attrition range at the time* before letting the AI re-take the systems). I had enough resource income that at the current rate of Wasted Resources 101 I could speed build the Super Fortress for fifteen minutes
and get it half-completed. We'd both purchased Zenith Power Generators sometime prior to this and placed them in his homeworld.
Next stop: Ysdllodins and Shokodo. I believe Ysdllonins had another Advanced Research station. Shokodo we ended up taking as well, as a Rebel Colony popped up. We ended up leaving a Cloaker Starship and 12 colony ships in system so that when the AI took it back we had a plentiful supply of "2 hour invisibility batteries" without having to defend the system.
Next up was Junction, I forget what was there, an Adv. Factory, I think. This is the only place I can think that I sent out a Mk4 Scout to finish gathering intel. If the Spaceport displays them in order unlocked, then we have by this point Raiders, Spider bots, and Zenith Mirrors. Zenith Chameleons ended up completing our collection. We also popped Lusitania around this time (Adv. Research?) and knowledge raided Beaumonde and Fiornia 161.
Then it was off to Brontitall to take out our first AI. We'd scouted 90% of the map at this point, unable to get scouts--even a cluster of Mk3s--in past Bartledan towards that cluster. We did know that Monacus had another Adv.Research and that one system over, Divine Wind, had an Advanced Factory, we we headed in that direction, assuming that the AI's homeworld was in one of the four unscouted planets, likely Brontitall. We launched from Ysdllodins and got as far as transports could take us (Bartledan) and then fought as far as we could (cleared Bartledan, heh) and set up a forward base. Which served us most of the rest of the game, the AI was very focused on taking back Horst, even though it was hilarious to watch it try (we held of a 7000 ship CPA without interfering). Coruscant, Carfax, and Ginaz fell to our might pretty swiftly, to be colonized later (Carfax had an Adv.Factory) and then assaulted Brontitall (the Teleporting Turtle homeworld). We eventually overcame (Impulse Reactors do no damage against a command station, but OH BOY do they raep Force Fields and Fortresses) and claimed the corner as ours. At some point prior I upgraded all of my command stations to Mk2 and Mk3, granting my ally all of the resource harvesters (even so I was topping my income).
Around this time we invited in another friend as we began our assault on the second AI and updated to v3.165. We gave him those systems and and managed to get a Mk4 Scout to finish scouting the galaxy and found the second, Attritioner AI out in Giedi Prime: 18 hops away from my home planet (impossible to even tie, much less exceed that distance). Due to the Attrition Generators, I could not keep scouts alive in its systems, but was able to periodically send a cluster in to gather up-to-date intel for assaults.
Brontitall ended up being barricaded with 18 Lightning Turrets and Mk3 MLRS to keep the Culassas and Teleporting Battlestations from spewing periodically from the Exo-gate (it was hilarious to watch). Once in a while a beam frigate would show up, but alone presented no threat, we marched onwards: through Kithrup (colonized by the newer ally), Arkintoofle Minor (mine), Aslund (first ally), and finally Rov (first ally) where we picked up a Regener Golem. We love this thing, but had to stop using Zenith Mirrors, due to their high health, but fragile nature (a single Mk3 was worth a full 1% of the golem's hitpoints to resurrect, whereas it could poop Deflector Drones like a leaky piñata without any serious repercussions). We learned this assaulting Urchachka or Bernard's Star. In the end, Urchachka was too tough a nut to crack, due to Permamines. First attempt was to EMP bomb the place, then fly everything through; took two tries (due to a Warhead Interceptor and it took longer than 30 seconds for our bombers to even start warping) and had to pull back. At which point we started building a nuke. Just as we were about to try that (if you pause, the AI can't "intercept" it!) the AI counter-attacked and nuked us!
Without any real defenses or much of a fleet we turned back the clock 9 minutes, just before the first EMP bomb. And nuked them this time. Without supply we easily overwhemled what little defenses didn't require it (all the Core turrets and a few reinforcements).
Then we nuked Giedi Prime, rebuilt our forces and repaired the golem, which cost all three of us most of our dwindling resources, and let Bartledan fall (Demon Claws, etc. took out the command station, though otherwise the planet did hold off several thousand ships in a CPA--but we'd relocated our production to Bernard's Star and we were a game-hour from victory).
Which left two core FFs over the AI Core Station, and a number of other turrets and ships, including a Mass Driver and an Ion Mk2. But we flew in and divvied up tasks: I was to take down the FFs with my "it does HOW much damage?" Impulse Reactors, Ruke (the older ally) would take out the mass driver and guard posts with his infinite deflector drones, and Cretel (newer ally) would guard our backs with 150 stolen Force Field Bearers (he obviously found love for the Leech starship).
Just around 2am, Monday Morning, at nearing 20 game-hours in, the AI fell.Victory!
Look at that list of achievements. And look at those "most kills" stats! Ruke's most kills were by turrets he built in Horst and forgot about! Anyway, we're now Global (weighted scores) rank #83 and #109, Cretel pulling #274
. Not that it means much, but not insignificant.
*Our previous game had found that we could go 7 jumps before the transport died. Did so, set up a temporary base to get the regen, and jumped another 6 systems out for an Advanced Factory. I am certain that it was my posting about that game that got the Transport attrition rate upped to its current value of 35%. Which I fully support, as being able to get that far out in hostile territory with a huge fleet is way too much.