Part 4: Tackling an Orbital Mass Driver
This is Durxuha. It has an orbital mass driver. Think massive railgun which strip-mines the asteroid it's sitting on then sends off large projectiles at near relativistic velocities. This thing will quite happily eradicate starships, golems, guardians or anything large. Thankfully though our fleet only has one starship at the moment, in the form of our champion, and this beast can't fire on anything smaller.
As we can see, the OMD (which is sitting next to the Zivu wormhole) is completely failing to annihilate our fleet ships. So, let's see what else we have here. An exposed command station, which will be going down in about 20 seconds. A laser guard-post at the bottom of the grav well, and an anti-starship arachnid guardpost under a forcefield. Looks like this place was really looking forward to wiping out some starships, a shame we'll have to disappoint them.
Command station dies. Bombers bang on the forcefield and anti-starship arachnid, while missile frigates go to remove the laser guardpost. Oh, hello! We appear to have a visitor on one of our homeworlds.
Zenith traders. Gotta love these guys. While they have a 1% chance of selling the AI some defensive structures whenever they leave one of their planets, they also give us the option of purchasing some pretty sweet toys. We can buy ion cannons, counter-spies, super-fortresses, black hole machines, zenith power generators, planetary armour boosters, radar dampeners and even orbital mass drivers of our own.
Because this is our homeworld, which hopefully very few AI ships are ever going to get onto, and because the trader goodies have fairly low caps, it makes sense to hold off on buying most of these until the trader is on one of our choke-point planets. The exception is the zenith power generator. These beauties produce 600,000 energy each, over and above what can normally be extracted. Because I'm using dual homeworlds I get the option to buy two, which is essentially four entire planets worth of energy without having to take the AIP hit of actually capturing the planet. For reference, that's 120 average starships or 24,000 fighters worth of energy.
The downsides of course are that these things are monstrously expensive at 5 million metal each. My current economy is at about 4,000 metal/s, so it would take me 21 minutes to build a single one if I devoted my entire economy to it. They also cause +10AIP on death, so they need to be placed on a very heavily defended world. Like, for instance, under the forcefields right next to my home command station.
Metal cost doesn't have to be invested up-front, it is instead slowly poured into structures and units as they are being built. So there is no up-front cost to me for purchasing the generator (unless one gets destroyed). Instead, what I'll do is put one into low-power mode so that it doesn't build at all. The other one goes into a special control group which I set to only build when there's more than a million metal in storage. That way it's not going to hamper my economy when I need to rush-build to replace ships. Also, you may have noticed that I was lying earlier when I said we'd probably never look at the CTRLs screen again. We look at it a lot.
Likely this first generator will come online sometime around 2 hours into the game, at which point I will be able to spam out considerably more defensive turrets than before. For reference, if I was to build every single MK I turret with a per-planet cap it would cost me 297,600 energy. Which is almost exactly the amount I get from the 'free' per-planet energy collector.
Oh, you may also have noticed the funky little shattered pillar starbase which has shown up next to my home command station. This has come from the champion alternate progression, although normally you'd get these facilities for completing nebulae scenarios. This particular one gives a nice defensive boost to our homeworld, generates 100,000 energy, and also allows recruitment of some new, moderately powerful starships.
Anyway, let's get back to the action. The missile frigates have made mince-meat of that laser guardpost and the bombers have just terminated the anti-starship arachnid. Time to clean up the last AI remnants and hop a colony ship in. Now, that OMD has a nice property on it. It's 'Captured on planet ownership change'. Sooo, when I stick my military command station up right next to it I get myself a free OMD. Thanks AI, you just saved me 3.6 million metal! Positioning couldn't be better either, as my forcefields can now cover the wormhole to the homeworld, the OMD and my command station.
Lovely. The normal defences will be going up here, although I'm not going to bother with mines this time. I'm also going to spend some knowledge on Mk II forcefield generators, as you can never have to many forcefields. Oh and apparently I just unlocked a new champion hull size, sweet. The upgrades come thick-and-fast early game with alt-progression on, because it's catching up with the large pool of knowledge you start the game with.
In fact, I've also unlocked another racial form for the champion. This is a Neinzul champion, which gets access to a range of more offbeat modules at the cost of less overall slots. Speaking of modules, I have upgrade points to spend. Let's see what modules I have unlocked at the moment.
Hmm, nothing of major interest. I bump the shield and laser modules up to MK III (the highest a 'destroyer' chassis can mount), but otherwise leave the remaining three unlock points in the bank. More modules will unlock over time, and some like the translocator modules will be locked to a specific racial form. But for now, I'll just stick to my boring old human ship. Nothing wrong with lots of shields and lots of lasers.
Huh, was that only three minutes of gameplay? Oh well. Next time on AI War: When Fortresses Attack!