Part 22: Take an ARS and the Empire Strikes BackHmm, after that little defensive reinforcement session I think it's about time to go capture another AI planet. Udoniusma, with an advanced research station, seems like the optimal target.
This is a fairly uninteresting world, accessible via Yarzon. However it gives us access to Iniwi, which gives us access to the closest ARS world. It's also Mk IV, so worthy of a little guardpost neutering.
Before the fleet warps in the champion takes care of the three ion cannons. Then it's boom boom time for the unfortunate guardposts.
Next up is Iniwi, which I'm not even going to bother neutering. Fleet passes through, and on to Udoniusma.
Well, this is the easiest target I've had for a while. Unshielded command station, right next to the wormhole exit. Fleet takes out the station and cleanses the planet of guardposts, then runs away back to Sucje before the special forces show up. We'll send a colonisation force out shortly.
Oh dear, that's bad timing. Looks like the CPA and exo-galactic strike-force are going to sync up.
Five minutes later, after the special forces have been and gone, the colonisation crew goes to work. I'm just going to stick up a Mil III at the edge of the grav well here, along with minor turret support.
ARS unlock is youngling Shrikes. These are extremely cheap cloaked raiders which attrition to death after 4 minutes. Throwing a cap of these at a planet only costs 20k metal, and can normally take down a couple of guardposts. So these are pretty handy.
Oh, we've also just got more information on our mysterious exile. Hmm, four hops from Udoniusma and three from Diafrwa...
A bit of basic triangulation gives us three potential planets for the exile to be sitting on, two of which we already own and one which would be extremely easy to take. Maybe we will go chasing the exile after all...
Engineers have just poured enough metal into the artillery golem to bring it back online. Probably my second favourite golem after the Botnet (don't tell Lyudmila), this is essentially a mobile orbital mass driver with more than double the DPS. He can one-shot pretty much anything, starship or guardpost. Hell, even an AI eye goes down in 4 shots to this guy. Fantastic on offence, obviously, but with the nemesis fleet about to hit us he's also going to be handy on defence too. Killing one nemesis frigate every 8 seconds is nothing to sneeze at.
Let's take a look at the galaxy map.
Scouts based on Nomad One have found another data centre on Roduku, a strike-force will be going out from there shortly to remove it.
Two thirds of our forces are sitting on Sucje at the moment, with the remainder on Nomad One. We have two Martyrs on Zivu, two on Nomad One, one on Savkeael and one on Oorto. All in all, I think we're in a good place to absorb the CPA. Outlying planets are likely to go down though, particularly Sother, Ifice and the newly captured Udoniusma.
Show time. Handily we've just had yet another minor faction starbase show up on Zivu. This one is the Epsilon Eridani remnant, which gives us +300 metal/s as well as more champion escort starships. Every little helps, as Mr. Tesco would say. Speaking of which, raid starships have just knocked another 10 AIP off by taking out the data centre on Roduku.
Oh, what's this? The strike force, along with the waves, is synchronising with the CPA and launching early? Well that's not good. Not good at all.
Waves hit. 500 to Sother, 500 to Nomad One and 1,200 to Durxuha. Bottie is on Durxuha to intercept the missile frigates, and Nomad one can handle a piddling 500 ships no sweat. But that 500 threat on Kinzupde looks like it might be inclined to come join in with the bombers attacking Sother.
The wave of 500 bombers is annihilated with barely a scratch. Sother has slightly more than the usual crumple-zone turret assignment, so that wasn't unexpected. However it looks like I underestimated the local threat, and the bomber waves actually draws in closer to 1,000 additional enemy ships. That's right on the limit of what these defences may be able to handle. The translocation on our command station is doing a decent amount to keep ships away from the forcefields, however.
<3 that botnet golem.
And just after the missile frigate zombies comes the first nemesis wave. We're up to 47 frigates this time. Botnet won't be able to do anything against them, but the friendly roaming enclave ships might be helpful.
Either plasma splash or some of the drones the nemesis ships are kicking out kills the energy collector. Forcefields go offline.
Mini-forts galaxy wide cry out in terror and are suddenly silenced. Forcefields come back online just in time to stop the enemy armada slipping through the wormhole to our home command station.
You know what we need? MORE ZOMBIES. Oh hey, and it looks like our zombie trap on Zivu has caught some. The redirection loop is broken and almost 2,000 zombie ships come pouring on to Zivu. In the meantime, a Martyr surreptitiously slips through the wormhole to Durxuha.
The Martyr gets there literally as the forcefields are about to go down. The explosion kills all their hostile shields and generally takes their hulls down to about half health. A little bit of engineer microing keeps my forcefields online, and the zombie horde which pours through the wormhole from Zivu takes care of the rest.
Oh come on. The second exo-galactic strike wave is coming via Durxuha as well! Artillery golem is still miles away, although the vanguard of our defensive fleet has just about reached Zivu. The local command station is down, as are half the turrets. Forcefields are at about 5% health but the champion has arrived!
Suck on Zombies and temporary forcefields. The projected shadow shields are short lived, but sufficient to stop the attacking ships getting through onto Zivu.
Soon the second Martyr arrives and it's all over bar the salvaging.
Huh, looks like the AI really doesn't like Sother for some reason. They've thrown almost 6,500 ships at it so far, of which we've knocked off 1,800. Because we're translocating all the loose enemy ships away the only things in range to attack our command station are the carriers. I reckon Sother is good for another 2-300 kills, then the command station will pop and the turrets will go dark because they're outside of supply.
This turns out to be a fairly accurate prediction. Even with a 0.1 attack bonus vs command grade those carriers can chew through a command station sooner or later. Now we need to get Durxuha back online so we're energy positive again.
Actually, Sother going down is a bit of a problem. I forgot to lay in a supply of remains rebuilders and the closest friendly planet is now Ifice 4 hops away. Might be a bit of a pain taking the place back.
While we're waiting for the remaining threat to work out what it wants to do, Nomad One moves on to a new cluster and scouts go a-hunting. They find some very nice things.
- Nuzup: Artillery Golem and gravity ripper fab
- Burnvilu: Black widow golem and core spider turret controller.
- Arwigpar: Core sniper turret controller
- Killwepape: Teleport station fab
- Mikfendis: Maw fab
- Pirahung: Spire Archive
Why am I so excited about the spire archive? Well, if you capture it you get 3x the knowledge that you'd get from a normal planet. But even more importantly, these normally only spawn on worlds next to a core world. That means we can extrapolate the position of the second AI homeworld.
Of the three connections to Pirahung, two are Mk III worlds. However the last, unscouted world is probably a core world. Which means that the only planet next to it, Juzupso, is going to be the final AI homeworld. I'll send a spirecraft scout down that way in a moment to confirm that.
There's a sniper battle going on. My sniper turrets are shooting their snipers, and I think their snipers are going to win through sheer numbers. Unfortunately pretty much all the rest of my defences are out of range of that wormhole exit.
Oh hey, remember my teleport raiders? The ones with the bonus against ultra-light hulls, and who can cross the entire galaxy in a matter of seconds? Sucks to be a sniper, I guess.
Ayup, that's an AI homeworld alright. The brutal picks are two core raid engines and a core CPA post. That's not a nice combination.
Where on earth has that CPA gotten to? There's 1,100 threat sitting on Zarvo, but no idea where the other 7,000 is.
A few minutes later, 1,800 threat on Tolgartol. A cloaked Xampite class Martyr goes to say hello. Actually, it looks like most of the threat is starting to trickle into here.
Ahh, that's a bit more like it. 2K on Zarvo, another 2.7k on Tolgartol. A second Martyr goes to take care of Tolgartol, but for Zarvo let's try something a bit different.
This is what is commonly called a dock cannon. Youngling vessels are so cheap and sort lived it's often worthwhile to turn them into a sort of artilley cannon by setting a dock rally point on a hostile planet and just having engineers mass-build them as quickly as possible. Works best with neinzul railpods, but it may also be useful with shrike's too given their cloaking, bonus against ultra-heavy and the carrier's ultra-heavy hulls.
Location: Nomad One
Laser gatlings and for some reason a bunch of experimental engineers are attacking Nomad One. They won't last long. Neither will the 1,800 vorticular cutlasses that the bottie is currently chewing on over on Boomquonxu.
Yeah I can't say this is the most successful plan I've ever hatched. A few hundred shrikes, even though cloaked before taking their first shot, aren't doing anywhere close to enough damage to actually make a dent. I'm actually probably doing more harm to myself by feeding the AI salvage. Ah well, time to send in the fleet.
Of course, all the ships from the cowardly AI run off. However we have caught the 2,000 or so who aren't cowardly. Artillery golem is taking out the ion cannon which has mysteriously appeared (presumably bought from the trader), and then will get stuck in with the rest of the fleet.
A few minutes later the threat is down to ~5,000, and we've apparently leeched a few hundred Zenith chameleons.
Okay, now that's worrying. Or would be, if we didn't have planetary tachyon coverage from our Mil III command stations. Still, 4.7k eyebots is nothing to sniff at.
What, random EMP guardian attack? The AI doesn't seem to follow it up with anything other than a few dozen fighters either.
Location: Nomad One
Oh, it's not eyebots. It's shrikes. Not that that is really any better. Also they seem to have gotten confused when the nomad links updated, so have spawned at the edge of the gravity well rather than from one of the wormholes. This is bad, because it means that by not following the regularly anticipated angle of attack they're going to be able to bypass the majority of my fixed defences.
Oh hang on this was a mime reprisal, hence the shrikes. I knew that was a bad plan earlier. Well it was handled handily enough and between this, the laser gatling wave and my leech starships we've actually managed to double the defence force present on Nomad One. As the salvage is flowing in and we currently have bulging coffers, it seems like it's probably time to start repairing that nomad beacon.
Wormhole links have updated.
After the update scouts find yet another data centre on one of the new planets, raids go to remove it etc. And hang on, Nomad One looks suspiciously close to the first AI homeworld...
Next time, on AI War: Target of Opportunity