Author Topic: Exploring lower difficulties  (Read 2799 times)

Offline Histidine

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Exploring lower difficulties
« on: June 22, 2013, 08:35:03 AM »
First AAR!

After having to bash the AI homeworlds in with my unpadded skull during my last 8/8 game (despite having Spirecraft: Easy and shamelessly abusing the Lightning Money Printer), I decided to kick back and try something easy for a change. I also want to see what the game plays like on lower difficulties; i.e. what a newbie might choose for the first time. Thus:

Simple, 60 planets, 1115514476
5/5 Random Easier (Support Corps/Chivalric)
1 AIP every 5 minutes
All ship types, CSGs on, Dire Guardians on
Full Fog of War
Marauders 4/10, Resistance Fighters 4/10
Starting bonus ship: Raptor

Given that this is going to be quite easy and I'm trying to see things from a new player's PoV, I can afford to mess around. In particular, I'll be capturing planets more recklessly than I normally would, and unlock things that look cool instead of what I normally use.

So, let's begin!

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An Easy Start
Right, time to load CTRLs from disk and select some starting techs.

Unlocked: Leech Starship MkII, Mobile Space Dock, Modular Fortress. I'll figure out what to do with the rest of my K later.


First order of business is to scout the neighbouring planets. Edea has an ARS, Baleyworld a Coprocessor, and Milfeulle a Gravity Drill. None of the systems have more than three guard posts each, although Mauser also has a Fort I.


The fleet starts prepping. Huh, I just noticed I don't have any Home Human Settlements or Cyrogenic Pods (or the Merc Dock). No wonder the area around the command station looks so empty.


The first expeditionary force is dispatched to Milfeulle almost as soon as the half triangle caps are done, accompanied by two Flagships and the heal bus. The meager resistance is easily swept aside, and a colony ship is readied while the fighters deal with the Needler GP up north.

Further scouting reveals a Data Center and Starship Constructor IV on Darwin (along with a Mk III Fortress), another Data Center on Aurora, a third Data Center and the Superterminal on Lovelace, and a Factory IV on Brunhilde.


Yeesh, less than fifteen minutes in and I'm already resource-starved. The lack of Home Settlements (and the intensive starship construction) kind of hurts.

Misunderestimating the Enemy

15:19: The freshly reinforced fleet arrives at Edea, which turns out to be a little better-defended. Moving out of range of the Missile GP covering the wormhole, I dispatch the fighters and bombers to handle the Needler Post at the bottom-left while the rest of the task force goes straight for the command station.

...Apparently even a cap of Mk I bombers struggles with an AI Mk II forcefield. I end up losing all the fighters and bombers, so the MSD ends up fabbing a bunch of replacements. And I just realized I can't get a colony ship through the wormhole unless I deal with the Missile post (or use a transport). How annoying!

Unlocked: Saboteur (other ARS options: Tachyon Microfighter, Sentinel Frigate)

A wave of 62 Missile Frigates is detected headed to Milfeulle. Hey, I didn't know wave warning times scaled with difficulty.

...Wait, did that "Chivalric" AI just blow up my Grav Drill?! OFF WITH HIS HEAD!

Turns out a cap of Raptors can't handle 68 Missile Frigates with Speed Booster and Decloaker support. And the Bombers are still recovering from that beating the Needler GP gave them. Bah.


Decloakers blow up the Command Station on Edea while the Missile Frigates kick in the front door. Why do they have 50k DPS each?

Oh, and the FRD units decide to go after Guard Posts instead of the Missile Frigates. For no conceivable reason.

Once that's dealt with, I decide I'm tired of screwing around with the Guard Posts and just drop a bunch of Sniper Turrets to pick them off. Also, this resource starvation is driving me up the wall, so:

Unlocked: Metal Harvester Mk II, Crystal Harvester Mk II

40:00: Ten annoying minutes later, the Missile GP finally dies and I can deal with the Cloaker GP next to it. Oh, and I remember to pop the CSG-A Generator.

43:10: The Fort MkIII on Darwin is sitting on top of the Command Station. There is only one possible response to this.


CHARGE!

49:10: CSG-B network goes pop. Fleetblob moves to blow out Mauser and Edgeworth in one pass, not even stopping to deal with the fort or the Needler GP under it.

Snooping Around
55:00 With over 12k knowledge and increasing, I decide to buy something.

Unlocked: Scout Drone MkII, Scout Starship MkII

Man, a cap of Scout Starships I and II can scout helluva far.

1:00:14: Wave of 71 Bombers headed to Milfeulle is dealt with fairly easily. Accompanying Decloakers wipe out half the cap of Fighters, however. Seriously, why do they do so much damage?


Damn, now I have too much money.
Unlocked: Engineer Mk II

1:28:44: Galaxy charting complete. Damn, it seems like every other planet has something on it:

AI homeworlds on Selene and Arthur.
Cera: ARS, Fab (S-Corvette V)
Lugovalos: ARS
Aerith: ARS
Adis: Fab (Decoy Drone), Star Constructor V
Athena: Fab(Exp Engineer), Fab (SpiderV )
Coco: Controller (Flak V), Fab(SSB V)
Locke: Controller (Needler V), Fab (Missile Frigate V)
Winterfell: Controller: (Sniper V), Fab (TDL V)
Babylon: Controller (Spider V), Data Center
Browning: Fab (Bomber V), Data Center
Palaeven: Coprocessor, Data Center
Eve: Fab (Armor Booster V), Gravity Drill
Torm: Factory IV
Sphinx: Controller (Laser V)
Icarus: Controller (Missile V)
Eos: Controller (Lightning V)
Elgava: Controller (MLRS V)
Monica: Fab (Flagship V)
Kuromie: Fab (Polarizer V)
Mesa: Fab (Electric Shuttle V)
Aiur: Coprocessor
Meryl: Data Center
Tisiphone: Data Center
Hephateus: Spire Archive
Leibniz: Z Power Gen
   
Camanis: Planetary Cloaker (SECRET TREASURE??)

Incidentally, have you ever noticed that the planet icons on the galaxy map rotate slowly?

Some thoughts
  • Decloaker gun. On the human unit, all it seems to do is make the Decloaker reveal itself and die. On the AI unit... :(
  • Econ system is really, really feast-or-famine. Remember when we bounced around the idea of reducing the output and K cost of higher mark harvesters? Might want to take a look at that now that VotM is out and stable.
  • Chivalric AI should ignore Grav Drills. I'd have mantis'd it, but I thought "reporting" it here would be funnier.

Next epsiode: we start trying to capture an unbroken chain of planets to every ARS!

Offline zleorg

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Re: Exploring lower difficulties
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2013, 09:44:39 PM »
Looks like a fun one! 

I noticed the other night that even if there is a planetary cloaker you can still take a science ship and check the ARS tab.  If there isn't one then maybe there's still some treasure but it just won't be of that type.  Seemed strange that it'd work but those science guys are pretty magical.

Offline Histidine

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Re: Exploring lower difficulties
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2013, 09:33:04 AM »
All Your Tech Are Belong to Us

Updating to 7.007. The following data backups have been confirmed:

Autobomb (Vanilla)
Cutlass (Kuromie)
Space Plane (Adis)
Spider (Tisiphone)

Only the Space Plane really interests me, but the Cutlass and the Spider are on the way to our objectives, so we can pick them up at our leisure. Vanilla on the other hand is a core world - forget it!


A wave of Missile Frigates attacking Milfeulle is swiftly dispatched, but the coincident marauder raid wipes out the fleetship detachment defending the planet. The main fleet has to be recalled to deal with the threat.

Once that's dealt with, the fleet neuters Beherith. Mk III forcefields are a pain to deal with; it may be time to upgrade the fleet.

Unlocked: Fighter Mk II, Bomber Mk II, Missile Frigate Mk II

Is it me, or do all marks of Saboteur look the same?


Our next objective is Lugovalos, the closest of the ARS planets. To do that, we'll have to go through Artemis, which will in turn put Spindle on alert. Normally it's my policy to neuter any border Mk III/IV worlds, preventing dangerous numbers of high-mark ships from accumulating, but right now I'm much too lazy to deal with Mk IV guardposts if I can help it.

Unlocked: Warp Jammer Command Station


There we go.

Also on the way is Lovelace, which houses the Superterminal. We'll save it for later.

2:01:00: Offensive operations are temporarily suspended while a detachment is sent to Edgeworth to defend it against another incoming Missile Frigate wave. Raid Starships are sent to take out the Data Center on Aurora in the meantime, but an MLRS guard post covering the wormhole and a Missle GP near the DC puts a stop to that :(

Unlocked: Raid Starship Mk II


To prevent further delays of a similar nature, a turret grid is installed on Edgeworth. Before it is completed, however, threat ships show up and start trashing the place. Once again the fleet rushes off to save the planet.

2:08:41: Data Center on Lovelace is punched out. Barracks is opened and contents disposed of. The MSD is lost (again), thanks to the fact that it decloaks while building. :|

2:14:48: Lugovalos falls, and a colony ship is quickly transported over. I forgot to check the ARS hacking options before this, unfortunately.
Also, a misclick gets me a tech I was considering getting anyway. Lucky me.

Unlocked: Spire Gravity Ripper (other ARS options: Zenith Devastator, Sniper), Forcefield Mk II


What a nuisance. A group of Sniper Turrets placed on the other side of the gravity well deals with that problem.

2:27:23: Torm is gate-raided, and hacking of its Factory IV commences. This event is heralded by a marauder attack, which is swiftly dealt with.

2:32:00: While the hacking on Torm progresses, the new Raid Starships Mk II are tasked with destroying the Data Centers on Palaeven, Browning and Aurora, along with all the Coprocessors. This brings AIP down to a healthy 53.


Continued MSD losses mean High Command decides to send two of them at once now. That way they should last twice as long!


Whoa, where did you come from? Fortunately, the Merc Enclave Starship is next door in Mauser and hops over for some troubleshooting.

2:42:23: Hacking complete. Fleet withdraws to Lugovalos in preparation for the next stage of the plan.

2:47:32: Browning command station goes down. A counter wave of 68 ships is enroute to Daedalus; the defense there probably won't even notice ;)

2:50:48: Browning is secured. MSDs immediately begin producing the new Bomber Vs.

3:12:35: The Planetary Cloaker on Camanis is destroyed to reveal... a CSG-E and a Distribution Node. Meh.

3:16:35: The Raid Starships take out Tachyon Sentinels, carving a path to each of the remaining ARSes for Science Lab MkIIs and allowing them to determine what the remaing ship options are. The results:

Cera: Youngling Nanoswarm, Spire Armor Rotter, Impulse Reaction Emitter
Phoenix: Infiltrator, Bulletproof Fighter, Youngling Tiger
Aerith: Spire Corvette, Raider, Anti-Armor Ship

3:19:15: Coco is captured: Splurging on the new goodies immediately begins:


3:37:00: Aurora and Baleyworld are both liberated, and the CSG-E network is taken down. Unfortunately, due to widespread anti-machine sentiment as a result of the war, a proposal to erect a monument to famed robot hero R. Daneel Olivaw is vetoed.

3:53:07: Having hacked the ARS on Phoenix, the fleet terminates the AI presence here and brings in the colony ship.

Unlocked: Neinzul Youngling Tiger

4:00:00: The huge surplus of K makes me decide to bring all my fleetships to Mk II.
Unlocked: Infiltrator Mk II, Neinzul Youngling Tiger Mk II, Spire Gravity Ripper Mk II, Saboteur Mk II


We begin preparations to advance on Spindle and beyond. The ability of Raid Starships Mk II and up to take out Missile/MLRS Guard Posts with complete impunity is awesome.


Two more design backups have appeared: Spire Corvette and Gravity Ripper. We already have one and will probably be picking up the other via ARS, though.


The barracks on Spindle is opened, and a bunch of angry Mk IV ships come out. Quantity vs. quality (quantity wins).


Too lazy to even move my fleetships off the planet until the command station can finish building  ::)

Also, 187 ship CPA. You think I turned the difficulty knob down a little too far?


Some thoughts
  • It's 3 steps below what I usually play, to be sure, but Diff 5 seems really, really easy. On the other hand, the "real" difficulty settings (>=7) seem to have experienced quite a bit of difficulty creep as AI War's development has progressed. Under the circumstances, does anyone think it's worth examining diff 5-6 as the entry difficulty for new players with some prior RTS experience, with the same attention to balance and such that 7-9 currently receive?
  • I'm really digging the new Mobile Space Dock. Normally I use a starship/pseudo-starship force for most tasks, but the MSD will probably make me adopt a more balanced approach. It repairs! It replaces losses in the field! And in a pinch, it can summon a swarm of Fighters to draw fire away from the big, expensive starships!

Next epsiode: we seek knights who will join our court at Camelot!
« Last Edit: July 12, 2013, 09:39:01 AM by Histidine »

Offline Tridus

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Re: Exploring lower difficulties
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2013, 10:07:19 AM »
Difficulty 5 is really easy and probably a good spot for newbies who don't know the game at all.

That also lets them move up to 6 and face something more difficult but still reasonably easy before jumping to 7 (where the AI gets more capable at fighting back).