AI War Expansion 2: Children of Neinzul
Today I am born, today I die.
The Neinzul are an insectoid race of perpetual "younglings" that live for an extremely short span before dying and being superseded by fully-aware and vicious replacements. Their Enclaves form mini-collectives with their own personalities, goals, and desires. In this second expansion to AI War, players face off against the Neinzul minor factions, against new AI types in general, and enlist the help of the friendlier members of this new alien presence.
Enclave Starships bring a long-awaited feature: mobile space docks. New map types and new capturables add more excitement. Optionally, Hybrid Hives bring a new type of AI logic to the game: these free agents are like a coordinated pack of velociraptors hunting you against the backdrop of the regular AI forces. For advanced players, the Hybrid Hives provide more cut-throat opposition than ever.
When you purchase AI War: Children Of Neinzul, you're not only getting an exciting new expansion, you're also supporting an important cause. Arcen Games has partnered with the Child's Play charity, pledging 100% of the profits from sale of Children of Neinzul (excepting any taxes and distributor fees) to helping sick kids in need.
The staff at Arcen has long admired the work done by Child's Play, and we're very excited to finally be able to contribute in a substantial manner. Our goal for 2010 was to raise $14,000.00 USD for Child's Play, but even after 2010 all of the proceeds from this micro-expansion are continuing to be donated to the charity. As of September 1st, 2011, we have so far raised and donated $27,779.12! We'll post periodic updates on how the donations are doing, so you can always see the updated number. We're so proud to have been able to contribute to such a worthy cause in a substantial way.
What exactly is added in the Children of Neinzul micro expansion?
A: The short explanation is that this expansion is a very small one compared to The Zenith Remnant and our other upcoming full expansion, and so we're calling it a micro-expansion and charging only $3.99 USD for it. All proceeds that Arcen receives for this micro-expansion will be donated to the Child's Play charity.
This expansion will not be a time-limited thing, meaning that you will be able to buy it anytime from when it comes out onward, and no matter when you buy it its proceeds will still go to Child's Play.
The following link has more details on the rationale behind the expansion, as well as the list of suggestions made by fans for content to include in the expansion: Children of Neinzul subforum.
New Alien Race
Until this expansion, the only known aliens in the AI War universe were the Zenith. This micro-expansion introduces a new alien race, the Neinzul. This micro-expansion will be focused around them.
The Neinzul are a race of perpetual "younglings," who live for an extremely short time before death (only around a day), and which are then replaced by fully-aware and vicious replacements. They are a sentient race of essentially "sentient fruit flies." They don't have a hive-mind or anything so cliche, but they are arranged into localized "Enclaves" that form mini-collectives.
Each Enclave is run out of a Neinzul Enclave Starship, and each starship has its own goals and centralized knowledge-store from which its spawned younglings pull their collected memories; this sort of nodal archival system is the only thing that has allowed such a short-lived species to ever advance to star-faring status.
All of the Youngling ship classes will have ships that are exceedingly cheap in terms of metal/crystal, and which are built extremely fast, and which move faster than just about anything else in the game but which will also die after a short period of time (a couple of minutes). Thus they will be more focused around quick-production around the new carrier ships, or around defensively-oriented space docks, one or the other, giving them a feel more along the lines of the Hive Golems (or "minutemen" in various other RTS games) except with a lot more control and strategy possible here.
New Bonus Ship Classes
The base game of AI War includes 27 "bonus" ship classes beyond the base fighter, bomber, frigate, scout quartet that is in every game. The Zenith Remnant adds another 14 classes, and this micro-expansion will add another 4 classes (be sure to see the notes about Youngling ship classes, above). Here is a list of what has been planned so far:
- Neinzul Youngling Commando (I-IV and Core variants)
- This will be an exceedingly fast ship (speed 120, perhaps) with the Scout ability, but no cloaking, and pretty solid guns (on par with a laser gatling). They will have normal ship cap, not an inflated ship cap as the laser gatlings do, and their range will be much shorter, like that of a fighter.
- Neinzul Youngling Nanoswarm (I-IV and Core variants)
- Actually composed of billions of microscopic organisms, this "ship" has no conventional weapons and attacks by ramming targets and exploding. This explosion damages the target and some nearby ships, paralyzing them briefly and causing armor and engine damage. Also does reclamation damage (more to targets of a lower mark, and vice versa). An enemy ship with reclamation damage equal to or greater than half its max health will be reclaimed when destroyed. The newly-reclaimed ship will have health = total reclamation damage it had taken.
- Neinzul Youngling Tiger (I-IV and Core variants)
- A ship with an exceedingly short attack range, but with a very strong (if somewhat slow) attack and around 20 movement speed or so, by far the slowest of all the Neinzul ships. They have huge amounts of armor that makes them unusually resistant to attacks from enemies, but their low lifespan means that they are only a threat for so long.
- Neinzul Youngling Vulture (I-IV and Core variants)
- This is a ship whose damage is (full damage * (101 - target health percentage)). This makes it effective at finishing off especially high health targets when mixed into a regular fleet. This is a fast, mid-range ship.
- Thanks to RCIX for suggesting.
- Neinzul Youngling Weasel (I-IV and Core variants)
- Similar to the Deflector Drone in the base game, but oriented towards missiles. These reduce the power of incoming missiles to nearby units and are immune to direct missile fire against themselves.
- Thanks to Winter Born for suggesting.
New Minor Factions
This micro-expansion is expected to include 3 minor factions themed around the Neinzul. Each one will likely have a specialized sort of Enclave Starship with certain behavior styles and certain types of Neinzul Youngling ships (from the existing described bonus ship classes) attached to it.
- Neinzul Preservation Wardens
- This Neinzul Enclave are obsessed with their ancestral memories of the great beauty of the celestial realm with its many stars and planets. The Enclave is horrified at the rapid consumption of resources and the use of nuclear weapons forever marring the face of the galaxy.
- Feeling that without action the grand vistas of the galaxy and future memories of its beauty would be denied to their children, this Enclave has emerged from its reverential seclusion to put an end to resource harvesting. The Preservation Warden scours the galaxy on the look out for harvesters and will attempt to destroy any it finds. In their zeal, other vessels and structures like turrets or guard posts, too close to the resource patches may also be destroyed.
- Thanks to wyvern83 for suggesting!
- Neinzul Rocketry Corps
- This Neinzul enclave leaves Neinzul Silos scattered around the galaxy. These silos are never adjacent to the human or AI home planets, and there are typically only 5-6 of these on an 80 planet map (and equivalent numbers on other sizes of maps).
- Thanks to Giegue for suggesting.
- Neinzul Roaming Enclaves
- Various Enclave Starships roam around the galaxy with different personalities and goals, and with differing complements of ships included with them. Sometimes they will fight with on-alert AI planets, sometimes they will attack human planets, sometimes they will attack everyone during a large battle, etc.
- Every few hours, another one of these enclave starships enters the galaxy, so even if all of the starting enclave starships are killed off, more will arrive in a while.
New AI Plots
Introduced via free DLC in April 2010, AI Plots are optional challenges that can be added to the scenario to make it more interesting (particularly in the end-game). Before this expansion there was only one AI Plot (the Avenger, a brutally armed and aggressive planetoid spawned by the death of the controlling AI's home command station). The Children of Neinzul expansion introduces a few additional AI Plots:
- Hybrid Hives
- These are AI starships that have been "melded" with small Neinzul hives that actually control the starship but behave as allies to the AI. The Hybrids have a much more aggressive outlook than the "main" AI and are much more "concerned" by your continued existence.
- Advanced Hybrids
- Enables the more dastardly tactics developed for Hybrids to use, including re-colonization of neutral planets.
Other New Ships Available For Direct Unlock By Players
These ships are unlockable at any time, in any game, through either command stations, starship constructors, or similar. They provide more options for players in fleet customization during any game, to let the players better adapt to the many new possible scenarios that the expansion sets up. Here is a list of them, along with what they add to the game in general:
- Neinzul Enclave Starships (I-IV variants)
- These starships are sure to be a fan favorite, basically acting like armored (and armed) mobile space docks. They don't have transport space, but they are mobile and can produce ships at any planet on the map (even outside supply), which is enormously useful.
- Mark I of these ships can only build Mark I ships, Mark II can build Mark I and II ships, Mark III can build Marks I-III, and Mark IV can build Marks I-IV, which is incredibly powerful as this completely obviates the needs for Advanced Factories if players choose to unlock these.
- However, the knowledge costs are something of a deterrent. Mark I costs only 2,000 knowledge, but Mark II costs 3,000 knowledge, Mark III 5,000 knowledge, and Mark IV 10,000 knowledge. Thus it is a total of 20,000 knowledge to unlock all the way up to Mark IV (but only 10,000 to unlock up to Mark III). That's a pretty steep cost, which means that Advanced Factories will still be the preferable option in many cases, but this provides a powerful new option for players that wish to pay the price in knowledge.
- These ships are available in any game which has this expansion enabled, assuming that players choose to sink knowledge into this line of starships -- in other words, it doesn't matter if players have any specific Neinzul Youngling bonus ship classes specifically under their control. This is basically the "carrier" idea, which players have been interested in having for a long time.
- Neinzul Regeneration Chambers
- These immobile structures are able to hold around 500 ships as a transport would, and repair all the ships held within themselves at a fairly slow rate. However, this has the double bonus of (like regular transports) causing the Neinzul ships to not degrade while in transit.
- The AI thus makes use of these on their planets in order to keep their Neinzul ships healthy while not active, and human players can do the same.
New AI Special Weapons
These are weapons that the AI may use, but which players never (or only indirectly) can ever capture. Certain of these weapons are mostly limited to use by a specific AI type, but there is always a small chance of them showing up on a planet or two in any game.
- Neinzul Nest
- These immobile structures are spawning beds for Neinzul Younglings. The nest launches a very low-warning attack when humans destroy any ship on the planet of, or on a planet adjacent to, the Nest's planet. If the humans control a planet next to the Nest, it also launches periodic waves of Neinzul ships.
- There is an AI Progress cost of 10 to destroying these, and they have unusually high health.
- Thanks to Nemo for suggesting.
- Neinzul Cluster
- These immobile structures are defensive weapons invented by the Neinzul. At long range, it fires heavily-damaging single shots similar to an ion cannon. Meanwhile, however, it is storing up Neinzul ships inside itself as time passes, and when player ships get too close, these burst out in full "free" mode. This makes these really dangerous with scouts, as well as just on general planetary defense.
- There is an AI Progress cost of 2 to destroying these.
- Thanks to Ancestral for suggesting.
- Neinzul Youngling Viral Swarmer
- These tiny ships have low health, do very little damage, and lose health over time in the same manner as other Youngling ships. However, they are able to self-replicate (like Zenith Viral Shredders do, just faster), and they also absorb lightning, nukes, EMPs, and similar.
- AI's that use Neinzul ships will also scatter these viral swarmers in with the mix of their ships on waves, and there is an AI type also that specifically uses a lot of these.
- Thanks to superking for suggesting.
- Neinzul Youngling Bomber
- These tiny bombers that are effective in large groups, partly because of their incredibly fast movement speed. They aren't immune to tractor beams, but they usually act in such numbers (a few hundred at a time) that they tend to overwhelm tractor beams.
- Neinzul Bomber Cluster
- This is a specialized, more powerful version of the Neinzul Cluster which only launches huge quantities of Neinzul Youngling Bombers when disturbed.
- Neinzul Silo
- When a system containing this unit is on alert, it generates lightning or EMP warheads every quarter hour, and sends them to nearby human planets. These warheads don't cause any AI Progress upon detonation.
- These are purely a minor faction unit, and can't be captured by humans or the AI. They also have a special form of shielding that makes them completely invulnerable, like the Dyson Sphere.
- Their warheads only target human planets, but affect both human and AI ships when they detonate, so players can do clever things with targeting them on AI planets for a free EMP blast, etc. AI ships don't fire at these warheads, as they know better.
- Thanks to Winter Born for suggesting.
New CoN AI Types
The base game included 26 AI types, the Zenith Remnant added 14 more, and this micro-expansion will add an additional 6. Here's the list of them:
- Neinzul Viral Enthusiast
- Has Neinzul Viral Swarmers at every wormhole, making the use of lightning warheads and similar against them... dangerous.
- Support Corps
- Launches no waves of its own, but supports the waves of its ally by adding in various specialized units. Also supports its own planets and its ally's plants with those sorts of units.
- Units that it adds for support: Engineers, Mobile Repair Stations, Munition Boosters, Force Field Bearers, Decloakers
- Units that it also adds for support if The Zenith Remnant is installed: Decoy Drones and Shield Boosters
- Thanks to FrostyThePyro for suggesting.
- Neinzul Youngster
- Uses all Neinzul ship types. Its waves never have any ships other than Neinzul younglings, but its waves have only half the warning that normally is given. Its planets are comparably lightly defended, around the level of the Mad Bomber.
- Thanks to RCIX for suggesting.
- Neinzul Cluster-Bomber
- Builds Neinzul Clusters on all of its planets.
- Neinzul Nester
- Builds Neinzul Nests on a huge number of its planets.
- Thanks to Nemo for suggesting.
- Warp Jumper
- On the bright side, this AI type does not build any warp gates on its planets, which saves 5 AI Progress per plant and avoids the need to gate raid their planets. On the downside, however, this AI type is able to launch waves at any non-warp-jammed planet on the map at any time thanks to their warp drives on their individual ships.
New Map Styles
The expansion will add two new map styles.
- Concentric Circles
- Planets are arranged in concentric rings.
- X Shaped
- Planets are organized into four distinct groups only connected via a single central planet.
- Thanks to Giegue for suggesting.
New Music Tracks
In all, this expansion is expected to add about 3 new in-game music tracks, and will probably not feature a new title theme.
- During-play tracks:
- Neinzul Lullaby
- For those who might be nervous based on the name, no worries. It's the first "military lullaby" you've ever heard, and this is one of the best tracks we've ever had for AI War.
- Sleepless Children
- Neinzul Lullaby
Other Miscellaneous Additions
- There may be a few new cheats.
- There will likely be at least 19 new achievements, just considering the new AI types and minor factions.