Author Topic: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices  (Read 15577 times)

Offline Toranth

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**Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« on: May 30, 2013, 06:21:35 PM »
This post is a spoiler-heavy discussing the Showdown Devices minor faction added in the Vengence of the Machine expansion.

If you have NOT yet played through the Showdown Device event series to the completion, then I seriously recommend not reading any further in this thread.
Not kidding, don't do it.  You'll ruin the fun for yourself, and you don't want that, do you?


I intend to discuss exactly what happens, who it happens to, what numbers occur during the happening, and how much it hurt afterwards.  This will reveal pretty much the entire plot to any reader.  So again, do NOT continue if you have not yet played the Showdown yourself.



Just remember:







There will be a large Wall-o-Text following, and I'll try to break it up into several posts for easier posting, reading, and responding.  Please bear with me as I try to get everything posted.

Offline Toranth

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2013, 06:21:59 PM »
So, the Showdown Devices.
An alternate way to win, forcing the AI to bring the battle to YOU.
An excellent idea, and I love it for giving heavy turtle-players, like myself, a way to win by taking advantage of our natural habits.

I am little concerned about balance, however.  So, I thought a discussion would be in order.
So far, I've played 4 games with the Devices active.  All 7/7 against random AIs.  1 HW on an X map, 2 HW on a Maze map, 14HW on an X map, and 2 HW on a Honeycomb map.
I was able to win on all but the Honeycomb map.


First, capturing the fourth Showdown Device immediately triggers the Showdown.  While the Journal entry gives you an idea of what is about to happen, it means that you'll have little-to-no time to prepare to defend your new conquest.  If you were unfortunate enough to capture the fourth device way out near the AI and away from your defenses, it can be nearly impossible to hold the system. 

Suggestion:  A change so that acquiring the fourth Device not start the Showdown right away but, like the Fallen Spire Exogalactic Tranceiver, it should require the player to DO something to start it.  Require something to be built in each Showdown Device system, for example, that dies if the system's Command Station dies.  Not expensive, no abilities - just a human-controlled trigger.


Offline Toranth

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2013, 06:22:16 PM »
Second, Showdown Device placement.

The devices are spawned randomly at mapgen, after HW placement, and seem to be fairly spread out through the galaxy.  Looks like it tries for equal distance from the Human HW, from each AI HW, and from each other.  It also seems to care about the Dyson Sphere?  It seems to try to space the Dyson Sphere at a distance, just like the HWs.  Doesn't seem to care about Dark Spire, however.

While this certainly prevents clumping and requires the player to spread out, it also requires the player to spread out a lot - which causes difficulty considering how hard the Showdown itself is. 
Testing this out was the point of my Honeycomb game.  I first attempted to take only the 4 Showdown Devices systems.  This proved impossible to defend for very long.  Next, I took a few ARSs and built up more defenses.  Still didn't help.  While Warp Jammers can help restrict the Waves to certain systems, the Exowaves and CPAs are just too strong for scattered systems.  At best, I managed to keep the countdown going for about 12 minutes.  If I'd taken the time to build Trader goods, like the Superfortress, I might have been able to survive.  But without that crazy level of strength, the AI response was just too much.
Which leads to the next topic.

Offline Toranth

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2013, 06:22:40 PM »

Showdown strength.
In total, the Showdown lasts 30 minutes.  During that time, the player will face:
  • A normal Wave every 1:00 minutes.
  • An Exowave every 2:30.
  • A Counter-wave every 5:00.
  • A Cross Planet Attack every 10:00.
  • A special Large Exowave at 15:00.
  • And at time 30:00, you get
    • a)  A very large CPA, and
    • b)  2 extra super-special large Exowaves, each featuring a GCS.


That's 30 normal waves, 11 Exowaves, 6 Counter-waves, 2 normal CPAs, 1 Large Exowave, 1 Large CPA, and the pair of GCS exo-death-waves.  Plus the GCSs.  Did I mention the GCSs?  All 180,000,000 DPS and 900,000,000 HP?  Infinite range, 100,000,000 Armor, and as fast as a Missile Frigate?  As far above the Mothership as the Mothership was above the Avenger, it leaves the previously "Most Powerful Ship" in the dust.  Radioactive dust, actually, because like the Avenger, it explodes when killed.  Not wimpy Mk I nukes for this behemoth, though, only a full Mk II Nuke will do.  And when it appears, it bee-lines for you home command station.  No side trips, and no pausing.


The waves are far stronger than normal waves.  Here's an example:  I happened to have a normal wave trigger right after the Showdown began.  This is straight from the Waves logfile.
Code: [Select]
Normal:  Performing first CheckWave with size factor of 11.55 on wave at Game Time: 27:25:51
SD Wave: Performing first CheckWave with size factor of 98 on wave at Game Time: 27:25:46

As you can see, the SD wave was about 9 times the size of the normal wave.  They were also current AI Tech Level + 1.  Yes, Tech level PLUS one.
In my 14 HW game, that's the difference between 5000 Mk II ships and 40,000-60,000 Mk III ships.


The Counter-Wave was sized and teched the same as the normal waves.  This is in comparison to normal Counter-waves, which are significantly smaller than normal waves.
The counter-wave infinite reach issue has been fixed, for which I'm happy.

All waves come with only a :30 second warning.  For normal waves, fine, they're predictable.  For Counter-waves, this is much to little time to respond.  Without time to either build a major defense, or have a major mobile fleet move to defend, a huge fleet arriving at a non-Chokepoint planet is just doom.  If that non-chokepoint planet happens to be a human Homeworld, it's just Game Over, with only 30 seconds warning.

Currently, it looks like all wave strengths are based on AIP.  This is a mixed bag:  lower AIP means smaller waves.  But the waves are already so massive that with low AIP, you simply will not have the defenses to survive very long.  But if you ramp up the AIP, you won't have enough defensive power to defend more than one or two systems.  This basically says "No Showdowns will be completed on highly connected maps."

Suggestion:
1)  Tone down the strength of all waves, especially the counter waves.  9 times as tough, 1 tech level higher, AND 30-40 times as often seems a little too much.  Maybe only 5 times the size?
2)  Give Counter-waves a much-increased warning time.  I'd suggest either 3:00 or 4:00 minutes.  That's enough time to move a fleet a reasonable distance, and still have a little time to deal with the issue before the next Counter-wave is announced.





Offline Toranth

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2013, 06:22:58 PM »
Then, the Exowaves.  The normal exowaves were near 5,000 - 10,000 strength of Massive Ships.  The Large Exowave was about 125,000 strength of Massive Ships.  The End Exowave was 2.2 million strength (GCSs being 500,000 or so each).
Just for comparision, I took that game and opened a save from before the Showdown began, then played through the entire Fallen Spire campaign.  The Exogalactic Transceiver caused spawns of 86,000 strength of Massive Ships every 5 minutes.

Showdown:  200,000 strength + 2.2 million End strength.
Fallen Spire:  600,000 strength + 100,000 end strength Defensive Exo.

The Showdown produced more than three times the Exo-strength than the equivalent dramatic battle of the Fallane spire campaign.  It fact, it produced about twice the total strength of the ENTIRE Fallen Spire campaign.
I don't feel that this is necessarily a bad thing - but it makes the two seem imbalanced.  In fact, considering the major strength boosts the player gets from Spire Capital vessels, this seems downright backwards.

Suggestion: The GCSs themselves are insane.  Even if the rest of the Exowave strength was cut by 50%, these alone would be enough to take out most defenses.  Maybe give them a bit more HP for balance, but cut the rest of that final Exo-spawn significantly.

Actually, what I would suggest (for the Lore as well) would be to destroy every AI Guardpost, AI Command Station, building, everything (including the Exogalactic wormholes), and set every single AI ship or Guardian to attack.  Have everything in the universe join the GCSs in their goal.  Some Exo-wave support for the GCSs would be necessary, but I think an order of magnitude above the equivalent Defensive Exo is excessive.


Also about the GCS - I know you guys don't have huge amounts of time to waste on graphics, but I was minorly disappointed that the ship is a recolor of the Mothership, rather than a bigger, evil-glowly version of the actual AI Home Command Station.  I've always thought thing was Evil (tm) looking, and would've made a good "You are DOOMED" vessel. 


Offline Toranth

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2013, 06:23:43 PM »
Finally, minor issues with the Lore.
There is no 4th journal entry.  Not even a "OMG, look at it glow!" like we got during every Fallen Spire event.
There is no You Win Journal entry.
There is no You Lose journal entry.  Don't know if this is even possible, but I'd suggest something like:

Quote from: Ancient Records discovered near a mysterious Device
"Final transmission of Dr Dorothy Langstrom, Xenotech for the Human Resistance.
We attempted to use the "Showdown" devices to defeat the AI, but it was more powerful than we ever imagined. 
For whomever may find this record, I've attached the files for everything we know about these devices.  But if you choose to use them, I pray you will be better prepared than we were..."



In summary - Showdown Devices, Yay!  I had a lot of fun playing with these, and will probably leave them on in most of my future games.  They are a passive alternative win condition, that allows (requires) severe turtling for defensive minded players, without imposing any penatly on the players who do NOT invoke the Showdown.  The end was also *quite* the surprise, and in typical AI War fashion, it was not a pleasant one for humanity.

I feel that balance is a little off right now, so that it takes a lot of pre-planning (to the point of choosing specific map types) to make the Showdown winable.  Perhaps, as more players try it out, better strategies will emerge and I will be proven wrong.

Although, from experience, I can now say:  The combination of Showdown and Shark is contraindicated.

Offline Cinth

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2013, 01:11:02 AM »
The counterattack waves can be shaped (even CAGP) so that the waves land on a planet you want.  They are equivalent to MK IV CAGP and you can gate raid out 3 planets to get the waves to land on your lead planet.

I can see what the fourth journal entry would say.... "Oh shi..."  ;)

The only problem I have is that the GSC goes nuclear on death.  That alone will keep me from playing it past testing purposes.
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Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline @B0FH

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2013, 03:18:36 AM »
Lore: Yes I agree it needs tweaking, however my concern was the first lore chunk (here).

As for difficulty..... well I played an "ultimate sandbox" game in order to se the new goodies as quickly as possible - I had +300%, both AI had -300%, both difficulty 1, and I merrily went capturing the Showdowns and fended off the 30 minutes of waves (unsurprisingly without concern).  Then the grid shut down and it took all of 30 seconds to lose the game and I never saw it coming!!!  Balance wise I would prefer to see Showdowns as something near-impossible to beat (on normal games), much like beating double 10/10 without modifiers.

Offline Cinth

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2013, 03:22:55 AM »
It scales on the AI difficulty.  Run against it on at least 7/7 before you call foul.  :) 

Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline orzelek

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2013, 09:26:40 AM »
Sadly I'm currently unable to do much testing.

But seeing few descriptions - if this is a feature that lets us win with on par of FS it should be at least winnable.
And from what I read it puts out more than whole FS campaign when you have no help in terms of FS fleet.

How much cheese you need to actually defend HW and all 4 devices against something like this?
I had problems on 7/7 FS so I can't imagine defending against something more powerful with no FS fleet and cities.
Add to that that you need to defend at least 4 scattered points.

Is this feature meant only for people that regularly play 9/9 + so that they have something more to look forward to in terms of difficulty?

Offline Mick

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2013, 09:29:43 AM »
Is this feature meant only for people that regularly play 9/9 + so that they have something more to look forward to in terms of difficulty?

I hope not.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2013, 12:10:31 PM »
Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Toranth :)

I am certainly open to changing these and rebalancing and so on.  I'd be shocked if my first balance attempts are right, though I'm pleased to see that I think it more or less hit the target for your particular cases: very challenging, but winnable, except for 1 of the 4 tests due to highly connected map (though I think that you probably could pull it off, but I'm armchairing there).  But first I think you would benefit from a bit more information to understand what you're seeing (and how to extrapolate to cases you haven't directly tested).


First, this is not actually intended to let you "win by turtling", but rather to win by distributed defense (defending the command stations on device planets for 30 minutes) followed by concentrated defense (defeating the 2 GSCs before you kill you).  I suppose it's still possible to get all 4 showdown devices behind a single choke (to clarify, was that workable?) but it does indeed try to space them out equally from all human and AI homeworlds and each other (it won't put one on a dyson planet, for reasons you can imagine, but I don't think it specifically spaces away from it).  So to some extent if you can get your HW and all 4 devices behind a single choke... well, that's pretty good work already, or just a really favorable map type.


Quote from: orzelek
Is this feature meant only for people that regularly play 9/9 + so that they have something more to look forward to in terms of difficulty?
That's not the main point at all.  The main point is to give you a way to take a game from mid (or late) to endgame immediately if you think you've got it beat or you otherwise just want to get it over with.  Ultimate Stalemate Breaker, and all that :)

It's not necessarily going to be winnable in all circumstances, as otherwise what's the point of having the normal way of winning?  But the idea is that if you've got a reasonable situation, feel you have dominance over the galaxy (aside from the AI's nasty habit of getting exogalactic reinforcements), then you can probably find a way of winning the showdown if you're clever enough.  It's meant to be a tough challenge, because it's likely to be the last challenge you'll face that game.  If it's too easy, then mostly what I've accomplished is to short-circuit the challenge of the game, which would be a very bad thing.

Quote from: Toranth
Suggestion:  A change so that acquiring the fourth Device not start the Showdown right away but, like the Fallen Spire Exogalactic Tranceiver, it should require the player to DO something to start it.  Require something to be built in each Showdown Device system, for example, that dies if the system's Command Station dies.  Not expensive, no abilities - just a human-controlled trigger.
You can abort the process at any time before the half-hour timer is up by scrapping the command station on one of the device planets.  That seemed quite sufficient for giving the player control of whether the process is going.  Sure, that may put you in a position of not being able to get resources (or potentially knowledge or fab production or whatever, if you don't hold of the planets adjacent to any of the four devices) from 1 of the planets you've cleared the AI station off of, because holding it would trigger the devices, but that's not that big of a deal.


Quote
Suggestion:
1)  Tone down the strength of all waves, especially the counter waves.  9 times as tough, 1 tech level higher, AND 30-40 times as often seems a little too much.  Maybe only 5 times the size?
I don't know what all your settings were, but the wave size is based on:
- normal wave calculation, for a normal-time (not a max-time) wave
- multiplier is 2 multiplied by the sum (not the product) of the below:
-- add 1
-- if Broken golems are on, add 2
-- if Botnet golem is on, add 1
-- if Spirecraft is on, add 2
-- if Champions are present, add 0.25 each
-- if Fallen Spire is on:
--- For each galactic capitol, add 1
--- For each city hub, add 0.25
--- For each non-hub city structure, add 0.125

So if you don't have any superweapons, the showdown waves will be on the upper end of normal (probably not 2x that, even, because it's based off a normal-time instead of a max-time wave) but nothing like what you saw.

If you have ALL the superweapons on, and 8 champs, and 5 cities + capitol, then that's 2*(1+2+1+2+4+6) = 32.  And if you have multiple homeworlds then there's that like normal, etc.

Anyway, the idea is that this should provide an appropriate challenge both to a non-superweapon game and to an everything-on game.  I'm sure the balance needs adjustment at many of those points, but it may be difficult to extrapolate from a few tests how it will be on some different settings.  In the case of golems and spirecraft it puts you at a disadvantage if you have them on but aren't using them, but basically the idea is that you're going to want to bring everything to the table to succeed in a showdown.  It's the end of the game, after all (though it is possible to get back to normal if you lose control of a device and fend off the remaining attacks without dying).

It's also possible that there's some bug in there making it harder (I didn't actually tell it to go one tech level higher).

Quote
2)  Give Counter-waves a much-increased warning time.  I'd suggest either 3:00 or 4:00 minutes.  That's enough time to move a fleet a reasonable distance, and still have a little time to deal with the issue before the next Counter-wave is announced.
3 sounds high, considering the overall timeframe of the showdown, but I'll give 3 minutes a try in the next release.

Quote
Suggestion: The GCSs themselves are insane.  Even if the rest of the Exowave strength was cut by 50%, these alone would be enough to take out most defenses.  Maybe give them a bit more HP for balance, but cut the rest of that final Exo-spawn significantly.
Bear in mind that the exowaves use the same "what limburgersuperweapons has the human got enabled this time?" multiplier as above.  Though it's not multiplied by 2 (so worst case max is 16, rather than 32).  The base sizes are 5,000 (exobudget points, not strength) for the 2.5 minute ones, 25,000 for the 15 minute ones, and 50,000 for each of the GSC ones.  Bear in mind that the 25k one is launched at 15:00 and 30:00, so it stacks with the 2 50k one for a total of 125k * (superweaponMultiplier) at that moment.  On top of the final CPA.

By the way, I think you suggested having that last bit just scrap the guard posts to free everything, but that "Final" CPA is already actually supposed to free everything left in the galaxy.  All the guard ships.  All the barracks ships.  All the strategic reserve ships.  I honestly forget if the special forces shows up for the party or not.  That'd hurt with hunter, though honestly a few more HKs at that point might not be noticed.
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Offline Toranth

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2013, 02:06:47 PM »
The only problem I have is that the GSC goes nuclear on death.  That alone will keep me from playing it past testing purposes.
That was my initial reaction, too.  I don't play with the Avenger for that reason.
But after a few more tries, this doesn't bother me, because it's an entire change to the endgame, not just an extra BOOM thrown in there.  Like the Fallen Spire event waves or Defensive Exo, it's a terrible surprise the first time you encounter it, but if you plan for it, it can be dealt with.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2013, 02:08:50 PM »
Yea, the first GSC's nuke is sort of the last twist the game throws at you, and there are a variety of ways of dealing with it (some focusing on cleverness, some on brute force).

The second GSC's nuke is just the AI being a jerk, but it doesn't impact the balance because it means you've already won.
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Offline Toranth

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Re: **Spoiler-Heavy** Discussion of the Showdown Devices
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2013, 02:23:13 PM »
I am certainly open to changing these and rebalancing and so on.  I'd be shocked if my first balance attempts are right, though I'm pleased to see that I think it more or less hit the target for your particular cases: very challenging, but winnable, except for 1 of the 4 tests due to highly connected map (though I think that you probably could pull it off, but I'm armchairing there).  But first I think you would benefit from a bit more information to understand what you're seeing (and how to extrapolate to cases you haven't directly tested).
I suspect I may have been able to, as well, if I waited around long enough to build multiple Superfortresses, Radar Jammer 2s, etc, plus do some K-raiding to unlock more fortresses, etc.
But my gut feeling is that requiring high-end trader goods, superweapons, k-raiding, and pure defensive unlocks to win on 7/7 is not balanced right.


First, this is not actually intended to let you "win by turtling", but rather to win by distributed defense (defending the command stations on device planets for 30 minutes) followed by concentrated defense (defeating the 2 GSCs before you kill you).  I suppose it's still possible to get all 4 showdown devices behind a single choke (to clarify, was that workable?) but it does indeed try to space them out equally from all human and AI homeworlds and each other (it won't put one on a dyson planet, for reasons you can imagine, but I don't think it specifically spaces away from it).  So to some extent if you can get your HW and all 4 devices behind a single choke... well, that's pretty good work already, or just a really favorable map type.
I see.  In the Maze game, I had 2 chokepoints, in the other 2 games I won, I had only 1 chokepoint.  In the 14HW game, I actually conquered everything in the universe except the HWs and Core worlds.  In the Honeycomb map, I took only ARS and Device planets.
But if the point is to encourage distributed defense, then the player would need to have primary defenses on the HW, and major enough defenses on each of 4 other systems to survive the expected assault.  That'd be 6 waves, 2 exos, 2 CPAs, 1 counterwave, and 1 Large exowave for each of the Device systems.  That's a lot of defense.



Quote from: Toranth
Suggestion:  A change so that acquiring the fourth Device not start the Showdown right away but, like the Fallen Spire Exogalactic Tranceiver, it should require the player to DO something to start it.  Require something to be built in each Showdown Device system, for example, that dies if the system's Command Station dies.  Not expensive, no abilities - just a human-controlled trigger.
You can abort the process at any time before the half-hour timer is up by scrapping the command station on one of the device planets.  That seemed quite sufficient for giving the player control of whether the process is going.  Sure, that may put you in a position of not being able to get resources (or potentially knowledge or fab production or whatever, if you don't hold of the planets adjacent to any of the four devices) from 1 of the planets you've cleared the AI station off of, because holding it would trigger the devices, but that's not that big of a deal.
The main reason for this suggestion is that there is no TIME to build defenses on the system that contains the last Showdown Device.  I can capture and fortify my HW and the first 3 Device systems... but unless I do something special to get supply on the last system, then beachhead, there will be exactly zero defenses in that system when the Showdown starts.  That's part of the reason I had trouble in the Honeycomb map game - the last system was usually the one that was destroyed, because I hadn't had enough time to build defenses.
As you suggest, if I scrapped the Command Station on a different Device world, then built up world #4, it'd probably work.  But then the earlier world's defenses lose supply... I forsee a fidly "pop-rebuild-pop" cycle as waves, Nemesis, and threat move around.  So it's workable, just - awkward.



Quote
Suggestion:
1)  Tone down the strength of all waves, especially the counter waves.  9 times as tough, 1 tech level higher, AND 30-40 times as often seems a little too much.  Maybe only 5 times the size?
I don't know what all your settings were, but the wave size is based on:
- normal wave calculation, for a normal-time (not a max-time) wave
- multiplier is 2 multiplied by the sum (not the product) of the below:
-- add 1
-- if Broken golems are on, add 2
-- if Botnet golem is on, add 1
-- if Spirecraft is on, add 2
-- if Champions are present, add 0.25 each
-- if Fallen Spire is on:
--- For each galactic capitol, add 1
--- For each city hub, add 0.25
--- For each non-hub city structure, add 0.125
Ahhhh, yes, that'd explain it.  I usually leave all of those things turned on, even if I'm not planning on using them.  So, yeah, 1 + Golems + Spirecraft + 8 Champions = 9.
If I were suggest changes to that list, I'd lower the Golems (they simply don't live longer enough to make a difference at the end) and up the Spirecraft (Rams and Penetrators FTW).
An alternative that had occured to me was to tone down the base rate a bit, but up the normal multiplier used for "Number of Ingress Points" quite a bit.

And I stand by the suggestion to tone down the size of the counter-waves.  Even if you just got rid of the x2.


It's also possible that there's some bug in there making it harder (I didn't actually tell it to go one tech level higher).
Looking a little closer reveals the source of my confusion:  It's based on Total AIP, not Effective AIP.  Waves didn't used to work that way, did they?  Normal non-SD waves are doing it, too.


By the way, I think you suggested having that last bit just scrap the guard posts to free everything, but that "Final" CPA is already actually supposed to free everything left in the galaxy.  All the guard ships.  All the barracks ships.  All the strategic reserve ships.  I honestly forget if the special forces shows up for the party or not.  That'd hurt with hunter, though honestly a few more HKs at that point might not be noticed.
I just checked a post-win save.  Special Forces units are still sitting around, as are all guardians that were guarding a Guardpost.  On the Homeworlds, there were still a bunch of fleetships and guardians (plus the Nemesis fleet) hanging around.  Fleetships were all guarding a Guardpost.  Killing the Guardpost should free up those ships.  Plus, it'd send AIP through the roof and really impress upon the player that "This is IT!".  In case, you know, the GCSs didn't manage that.



I noticed some additional things about how the Showdown Devices are placed in the galaxy.
First thing is that because the devices are placed after homeworlds and try for even placement, on many map types it ends up with an AI HW between the player and some Device systems.
The other thing I noticed about the Device distribution is that because it tries for an even distribution, large maps result in more distant Devices.  What's 4-5 distance on a 60 system map becomes 9-10 distance on a 120 star map.



All in all, if you can manage to force a single checkpoint, the Showdown is mostly balanced as is.  The Counter-waves can be an issue, but what Nukes are for if not 'solving' those problems.  With more connected maps / more reachable Devices, the harder it gets to protect them.  Warp Jammers can do something about the waves, but the CPAs and Exowaves are just too smart these days for normal defenses to handle.
This means carefully picking the map and doing fidly things with HW placement and faction choices is almost required.