Part 21: Risks, Rewards and DefencesFive minutes later, both Sother and Ifice are back online and I'm in the process of doing a comprehensive turret rebalancing across the empire to make sure my defences are in tip-top shape and I'm not wasting resources.
Right, we haven't looked at our objectives screen for a while. Let's do that. We've taken out the E, C and B shield generator networks but still have D and A to take care of. Lots of broken alien tech that we can revive, and a fair few design backups we could hack. We also have still to scout almost 1/3rd of the AI held worlds. Let's take a look at the most important stuff we do know.
Anti-champion exo-galactic strike force is 78% ready to go. We should probably build more Martyrs in preparation for that.
Devourer golem on Boomquonxu Not particularly worrying, he seems to be heading back into AI worlds. Just a shame he isn't going to stick around to eat the wave for us.
Three mining golems. None of them are on planets I particularly care about, so we'll just leave them alone.
Given the time, we should probably be expecting another CPA fairly soon.
That's a third ARS up in the top right corner, which means we now know where 4/5 of the class A shield generators are. That's enough to take down the core network.
Scouts report another spire civilian leader on Hungke, we'll send a strike force to take it down.
Sother has 3,000 knowledge to extract, which we can then spend on Mk III military command stations. These babies rock, especially as we were starting to run out of Mk IIs. That would be a 100% attack boost to all ships, warp detection to tell us where waves are coming from, planetary tachyon coverage, better salvage, double the metal income and a higher metal cap. And on top of that they get a high range, paralysing and engine damaging attack. Oh, and remember that we get a free foldout of these on each of our homeworlds too.
Ooh, now here's something I didn't notice. Sother has eight Ebonite and an Adamantite, which are pretty rare spirecraft asteroids. I'm highly tempted to use the Adamantite on a spirecraft jumpship, which would give me a pair of teleporting, invisible transports capable of dropping ships right next to a guardpost on a Mk IV world. They are blastedly expensive though. The Ebonite will likely be spent on a better class of Martyrs / scouts, as and when necessary.
There are also about a dozen different fabs, core turret controllers or design backups which we could potentially hack at this point. However I don't really feel like I need any additional firepower, especially given the energy system with my current fleet.
One extremely damaged transport delivers a couple of spire frigates to genocide the spire civilian leaders. Now that we've rescued their refugees this is, after all, an internal matter. Note the gravitic command station, which is a pain because it slows all ships in a massive radius around it. Took about a minute just for the transport to get in range.
Bottie is cleaning up waves and making friends, and it looks like we've just unlocked Zenith modular forts from the champion alternate progess. Excellent. On the negative side we've got a reprisal wave hitting Sother, and it looks like a dire guardian lair on Nomad Four has decided to pop one out. That's because the cookie monster counts as a hostile force for spawning, and guess where he got to...
2,500 fighters to Sother in the reprisal wave. The carriers have done a fair amount of damage to the forcefields but not yet managed to take out the hardened Mk III command station, due to their 0.1 modifier against command grade. Although it looks bad I think I might actually survive this without further intervention. Still, remains rebuilders are at the edge of the gravity well in low power mode anyway just in case the place gets wiped.
You may have noticed +5AIP from the civvy leaders. That means there are still five of them out there on the 38 unexplored planets, with one owned by us. So we're getting on average +2 AIP per hour, along with an AIP floor increase of 1.66.
Location: Nomad One
The turret rebalancing across the empire has been done, at the cost of about 6 million metal, so my defences are much more solid now. I've also slapped a Zenith modular fort onto Nomad One.
Unfortunately I don't have any particularly interesting modules to put on it, but a decent mix of shields, lasers and missiles (with an additional slicer bay) is reasonable enough.
For those who were asking about turret strategies, here's a few of my current defensive layouts. I am not particularly good at building defences.
Zivu, my primary homeworld. This place has all of the minor faction defensive structures on it, including three fairly powerful starbases and the spire civilian leaders. The main conglomeration of buildings is protected by ten forcefields of various marks, with all turrets except flak and lightnings outside the forcefield radius to spare them from the 75% under-a-forcefield attack penalty. It has a sprinkling of tractor and gravity turrets to slow down any attack along the most obvious route (from Durxuha or Miknei), and either a half or full cap of all turret types placed between those wormholes and the command station. Also, a few Martyrs are being kept in reserve under the forcefield in case of trouble.
Oorto, one of my three 'core' defensive worlds. These are orientated mainly around keeping enemy ships off my homeworlds and being the primary whipping boys for enemy waves. As such, the command station is right next to the wormhole entrance and covered with a fair number of forcefields. Again pretty much a full cap of each turret type to give broad-spectrum firepower, and in this case we've also reinforced with a Spire Modular fortress. Most enemy ships are going to go straight for the command station when they enter the planet, so mines are placed along that route. Where the mines run out gravity turrets kick in to slow the ships, keeping them away from the forcefields for as long as possible. Finally, we have long range sniper, missile and spider turrets shooting at all times even before the enemies get within firing distance of the shorter range turrets near the forcefields.
Ifice, one of my speed-bump / crumple-zone worlds. Only a single forcefield, with a mark III military command station under it. Half caps of Mk II missile and laser turrets, missile turrets because they're fairly powerful and long range, lasers because they're excellent against bombers at close range. And bombers at close range are what tend to eat forcefields. We've also got a cap of mini-forts here, both because they are EMP immune (and hence can still fire if an EMP guardian shows up) and to act as a rally /repair point for the fleet if they come to the planet. With the current set up we can hold off around about 6-700 ships, but more importantly thanks to the Mil III command station and spider turrets can probably cripple the engines of 2-3x that many. Which is a great way to sap the forward momentum of any AI attack.
Finally here's a close-up view of my defences on Savkaeal, which you may remember as my advanced starship constructor world, along with the ranges of all my turrets. This is what I mean when I say 'between the command station and the wormhole exits, within range of the command station'. Each turret will progressively fire on any ship as they come into range, but can always fire on any ship which is in a position to bang on the forcefields guarding the irreplacable structures. We have full caps of every turret type, so in theory we should have at least something that will do maximum damage against any attacking ship.
Savkeael doubles as one of my main production worlds, hence the larger than usual number of engineers. It's also my current intra-galactic warp gate rally point, which means we get a defensive fleet gradually build up here as other ships die off. Without the fleet we can handle probably 3,000 ships here without too much hassle. With the fleet, and maybe a few Martyrs, Savkeael should be able to hold off a full 10,000+ ships without breaking too much of a sweat.
Let's talk energy. In addition to my two zenith power generators I'm now up to 20 matter converters, generating 1,000,000 energy at a cost of 4,000m/s. Total energy income is a tad over 6 million. I'd actually like to build some more matter converters to give myself a greater energy buffer, but I'm already spending 40% of my 10,000m/s economy just on those.
So how on earth am I managing to spend that much energy? Here's your answer. I have twelve planets, and pretty much full caps of spider/sniper turrets on every single one of them. Combined that's costing me an insane 1.5 million energy, which is five entire planets worth. Mini fortresses are costing me another 430,000, which on reflection is far, far too much for the utility they provide. I really do keep using those mainly out of inertia, but I never realised just how much of a drain on my resources they were. Other turrets are about 1.6 million energy, with the three Spire / Zenith fortresses taking up 300,000. In total then I'm spending 3.8 million just on my fixed defences. If we add in the cost of the forcefields and zenith spacetime manipulators, that can be rounded up to a smidgeon under 4.4 million.
That leaves just 1.6 million in the pot for the fleet. Botnet takes up 80,000, the regen 25k. The drone spawners are the worst energy leeches, with a mark-cap of enclaves and Neinzul combat carriers costing 48,000 each for a total of 300,000 (or one planet's worth of energy). The worst fleet ships, by comparison, are the Mark V missile frigates, and we get 192 of those for just 68,000 energy. Starships generally cost 5-10k apiece, and most caps of fleet ships just 20k energy.
So, in other words fleetships are fairly cheap compared to starships. We knew that. But both are massively overshadowed by fixed defence costs. I didn't realise just what an impact the turrets were having on my energy costs, actually, now that their price has been doubled. Oh, and mini-forts are so absurdly expensive I almost regret unlocking them.
Right then, now that we've spent half an hour regrouping and improving defences, it's time to take the fight to the AI again. First order of business, neutering Darkjayaq.
Next time, on AI War: Take an ARS and the Empire Strikes Back