Part 14: When Nemeses AttackChip, originally I was going to say just go with . However on reflection, probably more accurately reflects the ethos of the game. Thanks.
We'll keep the details of what the AI is up to out there a secret for now, but suffice to say they're dealing with a considerably bigger threat than us. You can consider their current defences in our galaxy to be the obsolete tech they left behind when moving on to Hunter/Killers and Motherships, kind of like the British army probably has a room full of pikes still hanging around somewhere.
Though, personally my main concern is that while they've done a great job keeping the AI 'functional', the way they've done it feels like it's removed a lot of strategic 'debt'.
For example, if we're really fighting against an AI whose forces are for the most part 'occupied elsewhere', why can't we win by drawing the AI into over-committing over a longer period.
Regenerator golem is online. Defences on Savkeael, including mod fort, are online. First let's take a look at our new forces, then it's time to go get the botnet golem.
Here's our sparkly new regen golem. Any allied ship which dies in her presence gets instantly rebuilt at the cost of only some health. This can be very handy if, say, your botnet golem gets one-shotted. She also auto-regens over time, so if you choose you can save the massive metal cost on repairs. A very nice force multiplier, anyway.
This is a spire tractor platform. The interesting part here is the '150x tractor beam'. If we wanted to micro these we could take ten of them and grab hold of 1,500 AI ships. Those could then be taken through a wormhole back to a cluster of turrets and rapidly disintegrated. Or we could use them on defence to keep bombers away from our forcefields etc.
With the capture of Savkeael we now also have 7,000 knowledge to spend. Seeing as we have an advanced starship constructor now, it probably makes sense to spent it on starships. So let's go for Mk III leeches and Mk III Neinzul Combat Carriers.
Unlocking the Mk III technology automatically gives us access to the Mk IV at the starship constructor. However I'm going to have to go kill some turrets or something in order to have enough energy to build these. Because our empire is getting a bit strung out it's becoming a bit of a pain to redirect ship production, so I'm also going to drop a cluster of intra-galactic warp gates on Savkeael. This means that all new ships produced by me anywhere in the galaxy will automatically teleport here. They get a 60 second paralysis from this, but that's probably faster than making their way here in real space.
A tractor platform in action, helping fight off a wave. Or rather, given they are cowards, helping stop a wave from escaping to join the threat. The white lines you can see coming from every conceivable angle are from the sniper turrets, unexpectedly caught on camera.
Looks like our champion has unlocked a new toy. Nanosubverters aren't particularly damaging but do add some nice reclamation damage. We'll spend the effort to get them up to Mk III and retrofit the human destroyer for better anti-fleet capabilities.
This is Ifice, which has our botnet golem and an ARS on it. Somewhat worryingly it also has a vengeance generator. Whenever a ship dies on this planet the vengeance generator spawns dark spire ships proportional to the number lost. They then fly around attacking everything in sight, human and AI. These used to be massively overpowered, ending up choking the galaxy with angry ships. But even now they can be nasty and you don't really want to be killing waves of AI ships on a planet with a vengeance generator.
The defences on Ifice don't seem very well planned. The command station is just sitting there next to the botnet golem, completely unshielded. The champion takes advantage of this.
All ships on the planet are now freed as threat and leave the guardposts to go go wherever they like. Unfortunately for us though there is still a raid eye here, so we'll have to be careful when taking down the guardposts.
Here's our starship heavy raiding party. Backed up by the regen golem we can be fairly confident that these guys will last long enough to take out multiple guardposts.
Well, we wiped out a few guardposts. But it looks like the dark spire wiped out too many of the AI ships. The raid eye fires against the planet and another 770 AI ships are added to the threat. Starships retreat for now.
The dark spire continues doing our work for us. This is one of the reasons they are so dangerous, unlike every other minor faction in the game they are quite happy to take down any AI structure they find. Including the ones that would increase our AIP.
One way to deal with the raid fleet, send riots and tractor platforms into the planet to bring them back to Savkeael where our defences can mangle them.
This also has the handy side-effect of spawning a load of dark spire ships to carry on attacking guardposts for us.
Hybrids take advantage of a bomber wave to attack Boomquonxu. The lightly guarded command station goes down before I send most of the fleet to mop up the attack.
Another wave of eyebots take advantage of the situation to wipe out Durxuha command station. And, more annoyingly, the ion cannon there. We're now in a massive energy crisis from two destroyed collectors. It also looks like 1,500 threat is about to join in on the fun over on Miknei, but will mines are dealing with that.
As the count-down to the exo-galactic strike reaches 99% rebuilders have just got the two dead command stations back online and are starting to fix the defences. Fleet, minus starship raiding party, has been redirected to Oorto so they can do fast response to wherever the exo strikes first. Exos tend to go straight for the homeworlds, so that's likely to be either Oorto or Durxahu.
Back on Ilfice the dark spire have just finished our work for us. The last guardpost goes down, and so to does the AI eye. This planet is ripe for the taking as soon as we've dealt with the exo-galactic strike force.
The exo appears on Savkeael, scaring me for a moment. But they appear to be dashing for Jobark? Also holy hell, that is a lot of nemesis ships.
Aha, they're headed for Oorto (and hence Dageo, my homeworld). Good for me, as Oorto is my most heavily defended world and has a fully operational OMD.
Even given that, the nemesis fleet is ludicrously powerful. They chew through my forcefields like they were barely there, wiping the command station as they go.
They're on Dageo, my homeworld. And a second wave is now passing through Durxuha intent on Zivu. The fleet is giving chase.
Energy brownout, all my forcefields are offline. On Dageo the penetrator takes a shot and removes the highest health Zenith shadow frigate.
This is bad. This is really bad. The second wave of nemesis ships have flown straight through the offline forcefields on Durxuha and on to Zivu.
Two starbases, a spire refugee outpost, some friendly roaming enclaves and a bunch of turrets are all that oppose the strike-force. In a desperation move I tell the neinzul combat carriers and enclaves that are sitting uselessly two planets away to self destruct, in order to claw back enough power to run the forcefields.
Too. Goddamn. Close. I may have severely underestimated how bad the champion alternate progress exos are going to be. I stupidly left the regen golem and most of my starships up on Savkeael, and forgot to redirect fleet production to reinforce the homeworlds.
We also really need to do better energy management. So, to prevent this situation from happening again:
1.) Build matter converters. We have more metal than we know what to do with, so let's convert it into energy. 8 of these will be -1,600 metal/s but give us another 400k energy.
2.) To increase defence resilience we need to be able to weather the loss of a single energy collector. As such, let's set a minimum energy threshold of 305,000 units. Once we hit this level no more ships or structures will be constructed, leaving us with a safety buffer.
Right, back to Ifice. The fleet is slowly rebuilding itself, but we don't need to wait for them. We can quite happily stick a command station up next to the botnet golem, as this planet has no permanent irreplaceables that we need to defend. Then once we extract the botty this place essentially becomes another crumple zone.
The ARS gives us cutlasses, a very cheap swarmer type ship which rams into things. We also get 500 knowledge, in addition to the 3,000 we can extract from the planet itself. If we had been particularly bothered we could have hacked the ARS for either Zenith Chameleons or etherjet tractors instead, but that would have taken 15 minutes and a lot of HaP so I don't normally bother.
Next time, on AI War: The Botnet Golem gets his first outing