The Let's Play Archive

AI War: Fleet Command

by RockyB

Part 8: Question and Answer: Part Un

Let's take a quick break from the narrative to answer some of the questions and comments that have come up so far.

John Lee posted:

If you've been playing for a while, I'd like to see some writeups on the way the game has changed and evolved over the years, like how there used to be an entire to-hit chance mechanics, or the (quite recent) removal of the crystal resource.

I've been playing since version 3.0, but honestly so much stuff changes so often that you throw out the irrelevancies to cram in the new goodness. Just since the last major release, for example:

These are just the 'big' changes I pulled out from scanning the 7.0+ patch log for five minutes, and each of these has a major impact on the way the game plays. It's also worth noting that none of these are due to expansions – these are all entirely free updates to the base game.

Arcturas posted:

One question; how do you balance construction priorities across your little empire? I find if I try to maintain a full cap of each ship type I have unlocked my economy is pretty much permanently tanked. And if I wait for the full ship cap to finish, then build the defenses I want, I think I'm taking too long to keep expanding.

One little tip that I can give you is to look at the 'handicap' settings in the lobby - for this game I've given myself a 50% metal boost because otherwise the income is just a little too slow for my tastes. And, obviously, get yourself the harvester upgrades or appropriate command-station upgrades ASAP.

Honestly though, in this game your economy should almost always be tanked. I'd certainly advise getting normal ships built at the start of game rather than starships (one bomber starship costs the same as 250 fighters), but once you've got a few hundred don't necessarily wait for full caps before attacking. Just remember that strategic expansion is far more important than speed of expansion - some players prefer to only take 8-10 planets on an 80 planet map, keeping the AIP as low as possible. Given a 10-15 hour game that's less than a planet an hour. Some spend the first couple of hours just sending out raiding parties from their homeworlds but not actually taking other planets. Generally it's not until around hour 10 that the AI hits its reinforcement cap on their alerted planets and you start getting border aggression, so if you don't have any auto-incrementing AIP sources on (say +1 AIP every 30 minutes, which I think is the default, or spire civvy leaders) then there isn't that much of a hurry. 

After capturing a planet I tend to just mass-build all the defences I want at once, which isn't the most sensible way to do it. To aid in this there's an option in the global controls called 'Pause all constructors', which will shut down your ship production entirely so that all the metal gets poured into your structures. But even doing that I have ten minute periods of just waiting around for the defences to build. That's the period when you use small raiding fleets or scouting parties rather than flinging everything out into the meat grinder.

LeschNyhan posted:

So if you push out and grab those three P7+ worlds, it's starting to look like you're starting to have a long front. If the AI cuts one of the links of that long chain, are you still going to have the benefits of those worlds? Or can you relocate those assets back towards your start and contract to a more defensible size?

Yeah I am starting to get a bit of a long front. The main disadvantage to this is simply the speed of our ships, it takes a good minute or more to get from one end of the empire to another. That can be deadly if your fleet is somewhere else while a few thousand AI ships decide to pound on one of your under defended planets.

There are a couple of ways to counteract that. You can get Zenith Space-Time Manipulators or logistics command stations in order to speed up your fleet movement through friendly territory. You can make use of intra-galactic warp gates to automatically redirect production from your hinterland planets to the front-line. Or you can make excessive use of gravity turrets and tractors on your more remote worlds to allow your fleet time to arrive. Or you can find yourself a whole bunch of teleporting ships to use as a fast response force...

Planets are pretty much independent and supplies are magically global. Because most structures drop remains the only real impact of losing a system is losing their resource output (watch out for that energy supply!) and the time and metal spent to rebuild their defences. The exception to this are planets with irreplacable structures, for instance the missile frigate fabricator on Sucje or the spire civilian leaders. Once these die they're gone for good, and you're never getting that advantage back again.

Arcturas posted:

What's the keystroke to build mines in a line like that?

You can do mine line-placement by alt+right clicking when building mines, that'll open up the context menu like below.

Neruz posted:

Interesting, another game with a continuous economy based around Metal

HeadGrenade posted:

In the past, they did have Crystal, but it is gone now and I am very happy to see it disappear. I'm curious to see how useful hacking might be, and hopefully RockyB can show it off at some point in the future. 

Oh, hacking is immensely useful. You also get one HaP for every point of AIP you gain, so after taking five planets I'll have 120 which is enough to start doing interesting things if I feel like it. Definitely a good call by Keith promoting this to a full resource and binning off crystal.

Cythereal posted:

The premise of this game seems neat, but it looks really, really hard to get into and understand. Humans vs AI, I get, but then zenith and spires and golems and hives and hybrids and nomad planets and things pop up and I start losing track of what's going on. Like those shield networks you mentioned off-handedly - it looks like they're something you need to take out in order to win?

It is without doubt one of the most complex games I've ever played that wasn't a straight-out grognardy war sim. Even I bounced off it at first, and ended up coming back to it about a year after the release. The trick is that, as a new player, you wouldn't turn on any of the options I've chosen. The first game you play should probably be a straight vanilla 5/5 difficulty with no special options turned on, and possibly even some of the more complex ship types (like tackle drone launchers) switched off. That game would go like this:

Each time you run into something new, you examine it and work out how to defeat it. Then next game you bump the difficulty a little. Then you add super-weapons like the golems, or the fallen spire mini-campaign, or zenith miners, or ... and pretty soon there's so much complexity that you're back to gibbering in terrified confusion again. It really is knowledge built up from dozens of games, encountering new things every time you play. 

Honestly, I expect 75% of people who've never played the game before to be utterly confused by this LP. But, if exposing all the cool toys it has drives them to buy the game...

Core shield generators...

'Core Shield Generators are an addition to the base game that are on by default. Their activation can be controlled via the Ships tab during map generation.
Their primary purpose is insuring that players capture a minimum number of planets before attempting to take a homeworld. Because the A generators are always located on planets with Advanced Reseach Stations and B generators are located on planets with Advanced Factories, it helps orient players toward capturing strategic assets. These assets dramatically improve the chances of success against the AI homeworlds. You'll rarely find them prohibitive unless you're playing a very non-standard set of tactics, which is based around a very minimal AIP value.'

HeadGrenade posted:

As for Zenith and Spire and Neinzul and all those other things, it's helpful to remember that they are not really much more than flavor. Basically, you have humans, who are good, and AI, who are bad. Everyone else is neutral or the humans/AI have some ships/buildings that belong to them; as in, OUR Neinzul or THEIR Neinzul. There are differences, but much of it is flavor to justify all the ships being similar.

As a short summary:

- Neinzul are like bugs or zerg: almost all their ships spit out waves of little units that slowly lose health and die.
- Spire are . . . um, not human, have mostly white ships, and like lasers.
- Zenith are straight neutral: either they sell you both stuff, or they roll through trashing everyone's planets. We've seen their trader already.
- Golems are relics, artifacts, super weapons you can't build and have to put back together. AI can't really use them, but you have to capture the planet to get them.

Most of the rest of things are individual units, and while it's a lot to take in, RockyB's been doing a good job explaining each one as they come up, so I don't want to step on his toes. The wiki is a good resource too, and is a lot more than just ship stats.

Neruz posted:

The Spire appear to be made out of bloom?

Next time, on AI War: The Spire are made of bloom?