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AI War: Fleet Command

by Strategic Sage

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Original Thread: Abandon All Sanity, Ye Who Enter Here: Let's Play AI War: Fleet Command

If you liked this LP, you might also like AI War 2 by Strategic Sage, Monster Rancher by Mr. Swoon and Banjo-Tooie by Rooreelooo

Introduction




AI War is the award-winning flagship title of Arcen Games, released in 2009. Six expansions were added, with the last coming out in 2014. Just recently, the sequel AI War 2 entered Early Access. I hope it does well, since a lot of Arcen's other titles haven't and I think they really need this one to be a success.

AI War is a very complex strategy game, and is the only release-version title on which I have ever lost the tutorial. It plays differently than literally anything else, so if you've never experienced it before be prepared for that. Officially, it's a 'Grand Strategy 4X Tower Defense RTS'. A lolwutnow? Yep, precisely. For more information see the AI War Wiki

Backstory

The Human Civil War is over, having lasted eight centuries. It ended when the increasingly sophisticated AIs we created to manage the destructive conflict for us first learned how to cooperate, and showed us how powerful that cooperation could be - by uniting AGAINST us. Only a small remnant of humanity remains, while the bulk of the AI forces have left the galaxy to pursue more pressing goals than finishing us off, whatever those may be. Still, what they left behind, under a pair of AI Commanders, is still vastly superior to us. We must survive long enough in a desperate post-war struggle to recover and defeat them, before they complete the job. One side or the other is going to be utterly destroyed, and soon.

It falls to the player to command this uphill battle for survival.

Hasn't this been done?

Well, yes and no. RockyB did an excellent SSLP a few years ago that is in the Archives. However, it's also quite a pretty high-level one and despite his best efforts, that's a lot of stuff for people to absorb. More broadly, there are a number of YouTube series about AI War but not as many as you might think. Most are on the default difficulty or below(there's a good reason for that - this is not an easy game and it can be ruthless even on the easiest settings if you screw up - hence the mentioned tutorial loss). Others are versions of 'heh, I'm going taking on this game on super-hard settings to see how quickly it smacks me around' with predictable consequences, along with a tutorial series which is fantastic but also throws too much at the player IMO.

There's a number of holes in that body of work, and my aim is to fill some of them here.

LP Format?

Normally I go hybrid, but this is going to be strictly a video LP with hopefully coherent and vaguely tolerable rambling by yours truly. Feel free to cry about that as much as you want, I know a lot of people like screenshots, as do I - but I'm not changing my mind on this. It's my preferred way to do and read LPs myself, but it just won't work effectively here. I think the archived LP shows the limitations, but there's a lot of zooming in and out to see various things, and a great deal of AI War is lost when you don't see it in motion.

I'll be breaking this up into 'bite-size' sections, 20-minute videos at most is the goal. Along with that, I'll be uploading at least twice a week, and maybe eventually more often depending on how things go.

Spoilers?

For unit types, have at it. Story elements, use the tags in case people other than me want that stuff revealed as we progress, but otherwhise go for it as well.

LP Scope?

As is my tradition, I plan to be fairly comprehensive here. I'll start with a beginner-level, tutorialish game with a stripped-down-to-the-basics setup, then proceed to escalating levels of complexity and difficulty until I hit whatever my limits are in the game. I've been waiting for the time to do this LP to proceed further, because I want to 'climb the ladder' and learn as I go through this - the journey of discovery is a rewarding part of things for me. I expect several playthroughs to eventually come out of this project, all of them significantly different, and there will be setbacks and defeats as well as successes.

LP Index

This shtuff has already happened so far.

Beginner Walkthrough

5/5 Difficulty, stripped-down setup with most optional things off

Beginner Walkthrough #1(Intro & Setup Options)
First Steps
Ships & Scouting Basics
AI Planets & AI Progress
Humanity Strikes Back
Hacking & AI Reinforcement
Scouting
Strategic Assessment
End of the Beginning
Fabricators & Tachyon Raiding
Upping the Ante
Advanced Facilities
Closing the Net
Final Preparations
Victory!

Vanilla Standard 7/7
The 'default' AI War experience with most optionals turned on but not all

Setup & Scouting
Defending the Kahuna Way
Even the Planets Have Eyes
Battle of Tethys
Beachheading
Massalia
Mid-game Multi-tasking
Planning & Neutering Elektra
Data Center Hunting
Cleanup
Punching Through
Approaching Slaan
Slaan Beginnings
Tug of War
Slaan Still Lives
Slaan's Last Laugh

The Zenith Remnant
The first expansion, which adds variety and GOLEMS and other fun stuff. 7.3 'still normal' difficulty

Zenith Remnant Intro
Traders, Mirrors, and More
A Series of Unfortunate Golems
Vampire Claws SUCK!
A Plan Finally Emerges
Seizing the Initiative
Venus Convention
Power, Unlimited POWER!
Ambush at Geonosis
All Their Ships Are Belong To Us
A New Rebellion
March of the Golems
Superterminal, Bane of Framerate
Avenger, We Hardly Knew Ye
The Last Battle

Neinzul Knife-fight!
Children of Neinzul 'micro-expansion', which explores the 'sentient fruit flies' of the galaxy. 7.6 'Moderate' difficulty on a minimal 10-planet map for a quick, frenetic game.



Neinzul Knife-fight Intro
Two for the Price of … Uh, Two
Release the Blasted Weapons!
Core Resistance
The Maginot Line, in SPAAAACE
Is This the End?
A Photo Finish




Fallen Spire
Stepping up to the 'semi-pro' level of competition now with the Light of the Spire, big third expansion which explores another race and adds a bunch of things for both human and AIs, another entire campaign mode, and an alternate path to victory. 8.0 'Hard' difficulty at which the gloves are now completely off.

Something Spirelike This Way Comes
Blitzkrieg!
Spirecraft Ahoy!
Two Can Play at the Warhead Game
Facing the Exos
Utapau and Back Again
Look Before You Leap
The Spire Lives!
A New AI Trick
Spire Logistics & Cryptic Hints
Scouting and Escalations
Surgical Strike
Casualties & Revelations
Spire Hacking, Meet Cookie Monster
The Fifth Hub
A Capitol For Exaron
Recovering the Core
Last, Desperate Defense, Part I
Last, Desperate Defense Part II
Go Drunk Spirecraft, You're Home. Literally.
Shut the Front Door

Defender Mode

The alternate pure tower defense mode introduced in Light of the Spire for a shorter, more intense game of AI War. Its, uh, really different. I'm not good at it. Watch me prove it, if you're sadistic.

Defender Mode Flop
Royal Buttkicking


Fallen Spire Pure Redux

A no-frills, normal 7/7 difficulty run in a Concentric galaxy. I WILL see the alternate FS win condition. I hope.

The Fallen Spire Returns
Hektor!!!
Revealing the Galaxy
Getting Down to Business
Assembling the Fleet
Behold the Might of the Spire!
A Swift Conclusion

Champion Adventures
The fourth expansion, Ancient Shadows, brings forth a 'hero unit', complete with upgradable modules, its own campaign, and all sorts of other tomfoolery. And that's just part of the surprises in store as I go for a more methodical, super-low-AIP approach.




Ancient Shadows Intro
Beachheads Suck
The Champion's New Clothes
The Shattered Pillar
Attack of the Infinite Drones
Antagonize This!
Premature Retirement

Champion Reboot
Let's try this again - this time with a more limited set of optional add-ons

Focused Champion Reboot
Miner Mayhem
A Slow, Steady Grind
Kamikaze Colony Ships?
Mourners & Cruisers
Over the Raiding Hump
A Sizable Roadblock
Outwitting the Ravenous Shadow
Close Call(s)
Battleships Ahoy!
AI Masterstroke?
Raiding Tour of the Galaxy
Neptune's Folly
Finishing the Job
SuperTerminal, Part Deux
Themis, Part I
Themis & The Aftermath
Coruscant: The Early Years
Coruscant Continued
Submission



Spirecraft Showdown
Vengeance of the Machine, the 5th expansion, brings the Showdown alternate win condition, Dire Guardians, Dual AIs, Planetary Subcommanders, and the usual assortment of bells and whistles to an already-packed environment. 8.0/Hard

Spirecraft Showdown
Teeth of the Tigers
I HATE HKs. Why are there HKs?
Ramming Speed!! … or Not
Return to Quaoar
Deploy the Sentinels!
Over the Hump?
Showdown Snippet (22:56)
Another Piece of the Puzzle (19:10)
Shredding the Opposition (28:20)
Outmaneuvering Sindai (30:06)
Pathway to Coruscant (18:57)
Cliffhanger (19:16)
Showdown Suprises (20:12)
Bizarre Showdown Finale (22:44)

Exodian Blade

Exodian Blade Intro (13:04)
Nomad Meeting & Shopping Spree (16:21)
Guardian Grind (25:58)
Reprocessing Pain (29:18)
Deceptive Danger (27:54)
Back on the Exodian Trail (23:25)
Exile Hunt (24:45)
Exodian Blade Revealed! (23:28)
PITA Core Guardians (33:43)
Repairing the Blade (19:37)
Activating the Blade! (26:18)
Double Destruction! (35:09)

A Hopeless Cause (11:10)
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