« on: December 10, 2012, 06:16:43 AM »
First thing to keep in mind is that not all Carrier forces will attack you. I suspect a lot of it is from Special Forces, which move around the galaxy to protect planets the AI considers important.
AIP influences wave size, wave tech, enemy world reinforcement size or speed, or maybe even both. I think that covers the most important things of what AIP does. To keep AIP low you could only take the most valuable targets (ARS, Factory IV, expansions bring more goodies on worlds too), neutering worlds along the way. Just make sure you don't attack anything further away than 3 or 4 hops from one of your planets or you will cause deepstrike threat. Having a fragmented empire can be hard to defend, but the low AIP can work in your advantage there. Defending with turrets will be easy, because you'll have plenty, but defending with a mobile fleet will be difficult. Warp Jammers would make this scenario a lot easier.
Or you could do what I always do, and take everything along the way to a nice a target, placing logistics commands everywhere and relying heavily on my fleet to both defend and attack. Economy won't be much of a problem, but AIP will get high enough to send powerful waves to you and worlds reinforce quickly, forcing you to keep enemy numbers on bordering worlds low many times. Still, destroying all but 1 bordering warp gates and massively defending the one left alive proves to be working quite good for me at least. Regular waves usually won't be much of an issue (unless you're up against teleporting units, but I don't know if the base game has any). If your grav turrets there die to fast for your HBC's to handle the AI ships, simply build more. Build more and more until your turretball can handle the waves.
Your idea of gate raiding all gates in a galaxy except one won't work. Reinforcements still happen regardless of warp gates, and wave compositions are influenced by AIP, not warp gates. Doing this will just give you more AIP from destroying all those warp gates and it'll bring you little advantage. It does help slowing down ExoGalactic Strikeforce waves (since those are the only waves that actually spawn from the warp gates), but those are expansion stuff.
I'm still sticking to my idea of grav turrets and HBC's for defense. Put tractor turrets around the wormhole too. And if your defense can't hold, just build more and more. If you use the leave one bordering warp gate alive tactic, you're going to have to keep upgrading your turretball there over time. Put a bunch of Lightning Turrets there too. They don't do as much as the HBC's, but they'll soften the enemy ships up for sure.
Here's the thing about coreworlds... neutering them is pretty much pointless, because they reinforce fast and with mk V ships too. What I usually do is take a planet that is 2 hops away from a coreworld (so no alert) and wait till I'm ready to attack. Once I am, I destroy the planet in between, then take on the Coreworld and destroy it completely (maybe place a warp jammer) and then move on to the homeworld. I don't even bother with any of the other coreworlds, I just attack one of them and then move to the homeworld. Of course this could alert other coreworlds if you don't use a warp jammer, but at this stage it shouldn't matter. You're at the endgame and it's an all or nothing battle that usually doesn't last long enough for the other coreworlds to reinforce badly. I never even stick my head into a coreworld if I'm not planning to beat the game very soon.
So basically, when you are ready, destroy one coreworld, ignore the others, then keep sending attack after attack to the homeworld until it is down, leave everything there alone and move on to the next homeworld. Make sure you have already captured a planet 3 hops away from the second homeworld before attacking the first, so you can quickly move to the next once you're done with the first HW.
Also, always start with the toughest homeworld. That way the easiest one can be finished quickly as second. If you do it the other way around, AIP might be so high that it's impossible to take out the tough homeworld.
About your strategy.
Destroying guard posts reduces the total number of reinforcements allowed for that planet, but only to a certain degree. I believe I heard Keith once saying that it's no longer effective to destroy guard posts once the guard post count for that planet is below 10 (wormhole guardposts included). After that it simply means the command station gets more reinforcements than it would otherwise. This means most of it's force will be concentrated at the command station, but given long enough time, it can still become overcrowded and release ships as threat.
The only reason Carriers are created is when there are too many ships on one planet. This is to prevent massive lag people could get otherwise. Keep numbers low on enemy planets and you won't see many Carriers.
Coreworlds and homeworlds already do get reinforcements, whether you do try to do something about it or not. When the AI picks it's reinforcements locations, homeworlds, coreworlds and worlds bordering yours are always their priorities. Whether destroying guard posts increases reinforcements elsewhere I do not know. But even if it does, neutering is still often your key to survival. How you deal with the core/homeworlds is a concern for later. Having at least 4 of the 5 ARS before your assault on the homeworlds is generally a good idea. And if you manage to get mk IV of at least a few ships, then you're really ready to go.
Hope any of this makes any sense to you. I haven't looked at your save yet, because I'm hoping this will help ^^ If it doesn't, I'll take a look at it.