Part 15: Bottie has an adventureThanks for updating the thread tag for me Chip, appreciated.
This session is going to be orientated around improving our defensive posture and decreasing the AI's awareness of us. First let's get a few minor things out of the way, then we'll move on to looking at our latest scout reports.
First up, we've just unlocked the cruiser hull size for our champion. In addition to mounting more modules and being higher health it can also mount modules of up to Mk IV. So, time to go upgrade our lasers, shields etc.
While we're at it, it's probably worthwhile making a custom tachyon raider champion setup. We want to survive a long time and output a moderate amount of damage, so the spire racial form with seven shields and six lasers seems like a good call.
While our champion is off wiping tachyon sentinels we should also do something about improving our fleet's response speed. For that I'm going to unlock Zenith Spacetime manipulators. Two of these on each planet from Ifice down to Miknei will cost me 280,000 energy but boost my fleet speed significantly. My previously slow missile frigates, at 44 speed, are 3.8 times faster now at 168 speed. Which is faster than my champion used to be. Essentially I've cut travel time within the empire down to about 1/3rd of what it previously was.
That leaves us just enough knowledge to unlock some turret upgrades. These are nice in that higher marks are more effective but don't cost any more energy. So we can either use them in addition to Mk I turrets or replace them outright for a DPS boost. In this case I'm getting Mk II missiles and lasers, and I'll gradually roll out the replacements across the empire as and when the economy recovers.
Another thing we could do is remove the warp gates on the two enemy worlds that have direct access to Savkeael. That would prevent any waves from spawning in on us. Doesn't stop CPAs or threat of course, but will prevent an unfortunate wave of plasma siege starships or eyebots from wiping out the ASC. On reflection though I can't really justify the +10AIP for doing that. A single planet, sure. But not two. Especially when the warp gate for Larji is hidden under a mass of sleeping ships and guardposts, along with a translocator command station which is likely to knock any ships away if they try to take it out.
Right then, let's see what the scouts have to say.
Superb, we've found the first AI homeworld. It's five hops away from our territory and surrounded by core worlds. This one looks quite nasty, with a core CPA post and a Teuthida as its brutal picks along with the usual core guardposts. Certainly not something we want to be touching for another few hours.
Of more immediate interest, our scouts have also found a number of AIP reducing structures. The data centre is buried five hops into enemy space, but we might just be able to squeeze a cloaked assault transport full of raids down there with some judicious tachyon raiding champion support. Even better, we've now found all four of the AI co-processors.
The first three co-processors destroyed increase AIP by 60. However on diff 9 taking out the last one will drop AIP by 90, giving us a net -30AIP. As all of them are in reasonably easy strike range, that seems like a plan.
Constructors galaxy-wide are paused and engineers told to throw everything into getting the botnet golem back online. He won't be ready for the 2,100 laser gatling wave hitting Savkeael in a minute and a half, which is a shame as that would make a great first outing. But another ten minutes or so and he should be ready to rock.
Our heavily shielded champion has made his way through an adjacent planet and is almost in striking range of the first co-processor.
The champion takes out the second co-processor. +20 AIP, for a total of 225. This flips us into Mk II AI progress, which means waves will no longer include any Mk I ships and all planets will start reinforcing with at least Mk II ships. Luckily this isn't permanent (unlike the new ship / guardian type unlocks every ~50AIP). That said, prior to 6.xx we got waves of all Mk I ships, all Mk II ships etc. That has now changed to a blended mix based on overall AIP, so hitting this threshold isn't the step-change in difficulty it used to be.
Location: Hasquon and Juro
An assault transport half-full of bombers goes to each of the remaining two co-processor planets. These have been sitting near my homeworlds for a while now, waiting to be annihilated. In the end it's hard to tell which one goes down last, but it doesn't really matter. It's dead and we get -90AIP, taking us to down to a more comfortable 155. Then another -3AIP from our nice spire civilian friend.
Uh, apparently we've lost enough ships to trigger a reprisal. And it's a doozy. Almost 8,000 laser gatlings. How's that botnet golem coming lads?
The fleet has been diverted to deal with an attack on Boomquonxu, along with an infestation of beachheads elsewhere.
Here it is, the moment you've all been waiting for. The Botnet Golem, restored to glory mere moments before, facing off against almost 8,000 laser gatlings.
Now that's what I call zombification. The botnet is a free roaming wave eater, who then turns around and sends that wave right back at the AI in the form of zombie (uncontrollable) ships. Having him on the team makes it much safer for us to send the fleet out aggressively for deep strikes. Most of the zombified gatlings got killed by their still-AI-controlled brothers, only leaving us with ~300, so essentially the wave annihilated itself.
To cap us off, there are two known AIP reducing structures left in the galaxy. The first is a spire civilian leader our scouts have just discovered on Fikouh.
An OMD on Etkawa stops us from sending our champion out to take it, but a trio of assault transports with a mix of bombers and vorticular cutlasses (for chaff) manage it handily despite the unfortunate translocator command station and eye combo. This means there are only seven spire civvy leaders left, with a net of +4 AIP every hour. Next time they tick over that will mean +29 AIP over the course of the game which is almost exactly the reduction we just got from the co-processors. Huh, we could really do with finding the rest of these guys.
Remember the data centre on Pihhe? Let's see if we can't do the same trick with that.
Our champion, a cloaker starship and a trio of assault transports. The champion is wiping tachyon sentinels as we go along, allowing the transports to progress without being harassed. The reason the transports are damaged is because they take per-wormhole attrition every time they make a hop outside of supply.
This allows our transports to hit Pihhe and drop their load of raid starships, which take out the data centre.
The deep strike warning means that we are far, far outside of our territory. This annoys the AI, which spawns additional threat ships in response. Anyway, you may also have noticed that we have a CPA timer counting down. Looks like our defensive plays were just in time for another 11,000 ships to come crashing down on us.
Next time, on AI War: Question and Answer: Part Deux