The Let's Play Archive

AI War: Fleet Command

by RockyB

Part 16: Question and Answer: Part Deux

Alright, after that near miss and experiencing the enormous might of the botnet golem, it's time to see if we can't clarify a couple of mechanics and why I'm doing certain things.

petrol blue posted:

 That botnet...

Sindai posted:

According to the wiki, the botnet golem has 50 guns totaling 500 million dps, which is more than any other ship I can find on there by at least an order of magnitude. Fleets just melt away as they come into range.
The balancing factor, if you can call it that, is that virtually everything but fleet ships are immune to it.

Neruz posted:

The balancing factor of the BotNet Golem is that the AI loses its shit at you if you repair one.

Yeah on golems medium the botnet normally costs you +100AIP, which is five entire planets worth. If you have him on hard he merits his very own exo-galactic strike force (which he can't actually do anything against, because it's mainly starships / dire guardians / golems). In either case, he's worth it.

Fun botnet golem fact: Zombie ships obey redirector rally posts, which if you're patient enough lets you send your own mini-CPAs at the AI. What you have to do is set up a loop on adjacent planets, so that any ship entering planet one (Zivu) is redirected to planet 2 (Dageo), and any ship entering planet 2 (Dageo) is redirected to planet one (Zivu). As zombies do their normal patrolling thing, they get 'caught' between the two planets and slowly stack up. Then, you move where one of the redirectors is pointing to...

Here we've only got a few hundred zombie ships caught, but people have quite happily had 10-15,000 going before now. Honestly I'm a little surprised this hasn't been patched out yet, but I guess the devs like it. Personally I don't tend to do it in my normal games as it's a cheese too far even for me, but I wouldn't rule it out sometime later in this LP...

Akratic Method posted:

Question: how the hell did you get so much scouting done? I send groups of 20 scouts out, and they make it maybe two systems before they're all wiped out by tachyon sentinels. I send Raider/Cloaker groups, and when the selection mechanism doesn't leave behind the cloaker, the raiders just ruin it by shooting at some Mk 1 fighter and blowing their cover (not to mention they're so weak they take forever to kill a sentinel anyway). And sending an actual fleet just alerts a ton of systems until one of those "TOO MANY HUMANS" reinforcement gates flips on and kills everyone leaving me defenseless.

I want to like this game, but so far I kind of hate it on the controls and UI.

Right, let's talk about key bindings quickly. If you press escape to open the menu you can get the full list of input bindings. Warning: There's a lot, and the list below isn't even the half of them

Stuff that will specifically help you with scouting:

That said, tachyon raids are often best done by just taking a transports and dropping a bunch on bombers next to the tachyon sentinel. Remember that you can cloak transports (200 units at once) too, or even unlock auto-cloaked assault transports. Remember to put those into low power mode though or they'll start attacking stuff.

Another option, if you've got spirecraft enabled, is to build spirecraft scouts. These are tachyon immune, but attrition after a certain number of wormhole hops.

Neruz posted:

I think the best part about this game is that winning on the hardest difficulty is considered to be a bug. That right there is a design philosophy I can get behind.

MooCowlian posted:

I'm kind of wondering about that. You seem to be doing okay on 9, or are you struggling a lot more than it looks like, or maybe it just hasn't really got bad because it's still fairly early? If 10 is supposed to be more or less impossible to do, what are the chances of actually winning this one?

I see AI War as a rogue-like RTS. Just like in a dungeon crawler there's a theoretical 'end goal' that you're striving for. But the real meat of the game is in working out the interlocking systems, figuring out how to overcome the challenges, and once you've done so then handicapping yourself or adding extra difficulty to see if you can do it all again.

There's a couple of points to consider here. First up, I play this game a lot. Some people have thousands of hours in DOTA or TF2, I have AI War. As such, I make this shit look easy. Secondly the difficulty curve from 7+ to 10 is pretty much exponential. The move from 9.0 to 9.3 is a much bigger jump than between 6 and 7, and consequently the jump from 9 to 10 is massive. Finally, (at the time of the question) I'm not even two hours into the game at this point. On the pimple -> gnat -> elephant scale I'm barely above a flea. The AI has yet to unleash their more potent fly swatters, most of which only come into play from hour two onwards, and my AI progress is pretty low. Even so 1,000+ ship waves are pretty much 10-15 hour end-game sizes for a diff 7 player, but as a diff 9 player I'm taking them down before hour 2.

For reference, I've only ever won one difficulty 10 game. In order to do so I exploited at least three different loopholes or inconsistent behaviours which have now been closed. It was done just after the introduction of salvage, which has now been balanced / nerfed fairly heavily. And at one point I ran out of tactical options so hard that I had to put the game on pause for a week until the developer added black-hole immunity to the Mk V spirecraft jumpship just for me. Which I then exploited the hell out of.

Other tactics that have worked in the past are choosing an X-map and turtling up behind a massive checkpoint, exploiting Martyrs and lightning missiles so hard that they got redesigned, and adding as much positive cheese in the lobby as physically possible. But all of these were before the balancing pass pre-8.0, and I haven't heard of anyone who's won a regular game on 10/10 since. The best part about the game though is that when you're playing at this kind of difficulty you can get an almost dungeon-master relationship with the devs, if you want. As an exercise take a look at the 7.0 patch notes and search for 'RockyB', especially around the 7.021 release when I was last really active. In particular, the line 'Now when launching a CPA, if it empties the galaxy of all guard ships and Strategic Reserve ships and STILL does not have enough to fill the specified number of ships, it starts freeing Special Forces ships for the attack.'.As one of the devs is keen on saying, 'And they say AI War doesn't have PvP...'

Akratic Method posted:

Another question from my ongoing first game: is there a point to destroying AI warp gates? I set up a choke point, but there were a couple of planets behind it that weren't really worthwhile, so I thought maybe I'd just go in, wipe out the threat, kill the warp gate so no more could come in, but leave the command posts and save 15 AIP per planet. 

It looks like ships actually warp in through the command stations, though. I've watched them appear without a warp gate, anyway. The description for the warp gate pretty clearly says that that's how the AI sends reinforcements, though, as does the green notification text that appears. (although that still appears even with no gate) What's the deal?

For that I must refer you to the AI War wiki:

Essentially, any planet you own which is linked to a warp gate is a valid target for waves. If you don't want a wave hitting your under defended planets, make sure to gate raid. Although that won't stop the threat fleet if it smells weakness...

And for the more reinforcements, explains the differences between 'wave' and 'reinforcement' warp gates. Remember though that neutering, i.e. decreasing the overall number of guardposts, a planet will decrease how many ships the AI is allowed to reinforce a planet with.

EDIT: Also, before I forget and in reference to my post above this one, even on diff 9 I probably only win 60% of the time. With the settings I'm using above that's more like 85%, although I'm still not sure how bad the cowards are going to get.

Neruz posted:

I'm impressed at how much interesting story there is in this game considering that for the type of game it is I wouldn't expect much story at all.

OtherworldlyInvader posted:

If anyone else is like me and curious about this game's story and frustrated at the lack of information about it on the internet, you can read the journal entries in the game files. They're located in Steam/steamapps/common/AI War Fleet Command/RuntimeData/Language/en/ as XML documents named 3journal, 4journal, ect. It looks like steam downloads them all for the base game regardless of if you own the relevant expansion or not.

One of the things that everyone liked about the light of the spire expansion was the journals. So the devs have done more and more of them in the later expansions.

Musluck posted:

I believe at one point teleport raiders were able to damage command grade structures. Probably just after they got added. If my memory serves, someone got a win with them in under 10 minutes. Teleporting is a good gimmick in most cases anyway, and compared to battle stations raiders get a bigger bonus on damage. Not bad for hit and run tactics.

Yep, that sounds like AI War. Exploit something so hard that the devs have to fix it.

Arturus posted:

Maybe I missed it, but what's a dire guardian lair? Just a structure that occasionally spawns roaming dire guardians (those jerks in the screenshot), and spawns three of them when you kill it?

Yup, that's exactly what they are. The dire guardian lairs really are just an extra bit of !!fun!! added for variety's sake back when they did the guardian rebalancing. Consider them slightly less powerful golems which also tend to get included in exo-galactic strike forces. You don't want them ganging up on you, I've had instances where dire widow guardians showed up and tractored almost 1000 fleet ships straight into the meat grinder on an AI homeworld.

Arcturus posted:

You explained your homeworld turret strategy a little bit, but the screenshot's a touch cramped for me to really see which turrets are placed where and it doesn't have the super-helpful annotations of your other screenshots.

My turret strategy is pretty much 'Place it between the command station and the wormholes. Make sure that the command station is in range'. If you want proper strategy, take a look at section three of this forum post:,13369.0.html

This thread (,8598.0.html is also a decent read for some fleet combat tactics, although as per usual quite a lot of it is a bit outdated now.

OtherworldlyInvader posted:

I tried getting into this game a couple times and never could, but reading this LP has been fun so I gave it another shot and have been doing much better than before. Started up a new game on difficulty 7 and I got a sweet starting location in a little dead-end cluster of 4 systems. After securing them and the entrance point I scouted out and found a string of 4 connected systems housing a hive golem, 3 spire civilian leaders, and at the end a Super Terminal.

Not sure if I should tackle the Super Terminal yet, not really sure how increasing the AI progress floor works.

Bremen posted:

Unless they've changed it, no, it works more like hacking. You hold the system, and every few seconds your AI progress goes down and it spawns (more and more) AI ships in that system. The longer you hold it (IE, the more firepower you can put in the system) the more the AI progress goes down. The floor keeps you from reducing your progress down to nothing, but other than that isn't really a problem.

The super-terminal was modified when hacking was promoted to a full resource. It used to be that knowledge raiding and super terminal hacking were the only forms of hacking, and these were somewhat 'hidden'. What it does is increase AIP by one then reduce it by two, which has the effect of decreasing AIP but increasing the 'floor'. AIP Floor is Total AIP /5 or /4 or /3 for Difficulty <8 / 8+ / 9+, but is always at least 10. Current AI Progress is either total - reduction, or floor if floor is higher.

Back in version 5.028 the super terminal was updated so that you couldn't switch it on and off at will and had to destroy it to stop the reduction / AI spawns. As of 7.xx using the terminal now costs HaP at a ratio of 1 per tick, which increases slowly (but still exponentially) over time. So you can fairly rapidly get to a point where it isn't worth spending any more HaP. For me that point is around 5HaP per tick. The two have combined to balance / nerf it fairly significantly, but honestly that was quite a necessary thing.

Oh, and FYI. You don't want to send your HaP negative. The AI gets ... nasty.

Falcorum posted:

Also did you not have any more martyrs available for that nemesis wave or would they do too little damage?

Martyrs or lightning warheads would actually have been a partial solution here, yeah. Base hull strength (ignoring forcefields) for a frigate is 150,000, while the Martyr does up to 100,000 damage to anything in range up to a total of 5 million. In total we had 37 frigates per wave, *2 waves, which means we would have needed about four Martyrs. Because each spire asteroid is a one-shot deal, and because they cost energy to maintain while just sitting around doing nothing, I normally only have 2/3 held in reserve across the empire. As I didn't think the exo was going to be particularly bad (hence why I didn't move my starships back down to defend), I didn't move them into position to intercept. And the nemesis fleet was moving so fast that I couldn't send the relatively slow Martyrs to catch up to them in time.

Actually, looking at the galactic filter for spire asteroids it seems like I've got a lot of Pysite at the moment. Normally we'd expect far more Reptite (the lowest level asteroid: Reptite -> Pysite -> Xampite). 

That's 37 easily accessible Pysite on my current worlds, along with 14 Xampite. And that's discounting the idea of raiding nearby AI planets for rocks. I'm not likely to run out of Martyrs anytime soon then, although of course I'm probably going to want to save some of those asteroids for shield bearers, scouts, penetrators, siege towers etc.

Travic posted:

Gah! Massive space fleets blasting the bejeezus out of each other? Underdog style gameplay? Rogue AI's? Highly strategic? My backlog is long enough already. 

RockyB what have you done to me?

I think this is another one of those games I saw way back when and bounced off then realized years later what I was missing. Consider it bought.

A number of people have said that they've bought or started replaying the game now because of this LP. Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Anyway, let's crack on.

Next time, on AI War: CPA, Redux