Author Topic: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR  (Read 1716 times)

Offline Kesseleth

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War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« on: December 10, 2018, 09:54:45 PM »
WAR OF THE DARK SPIRE

PART 0: PREPARATIONS

Welcome, one and all, to what is perhaps one of the more foolish ideas to have struck me as of late. My name is Kesseleth. You may know me from the Discord server, if you frequent there. I am here today, to bring you a tale of humanity versus a terrible AI - one which, in order to beat, they must summon another, even more devastating threat. The Dark Spire.

Indeed, this game is designed around the idea of a Dark Spire hacking victory. The Dark Spire is a faction which spawns ships whenever other ships die near a planet they occupy. They are very, very, very dangerous. As far as I know, nobody has ever completed a Dark Spire hacking victory in AI War 2 as of this writing. I shall attempt to be the first.

First, though, certain specifications must be gotten out of the way. There's a multitude of different options available when starting a game. Here are my choices and my reasoning behind them.

Map: Cluster, 200 planets, medium size, seed 577904855

I choose cluster for my map because it allows me to choose a highly defensible starting location. I'm going to start in the corner and use that as a secure defense against waves. This is important, as I will discuss later.




AI Settings:

I left most of the settings normal. However, I did choose to enable the Hunter waves, just to keep things interesting. However, there will be no reconquest waves, no shark, and no other fancy tools that the AI can abuse.


AI Type: Turtle

I'll be dealing with plenty from the Dark Spire, frankly, and I don't care to worry about too many dangerous waves incoming. This setting will mean taking planets will be more challenging, however. Science will be a commodity here - and one I will need a large amount of. This combination will make things challenging. The Warden and Hunter fleets are both set to normal, by the way - as such, attacks from the Hunter fleet will keep at least some ships headed my way on occasion.

AI Difficulty: 9/9/9

This will, hmm... keep things interesting. That is all I have to say on that matter.

Factions: Dark Spire

The Dark Spire is the only faction I have enabled. They are at intensity 10.

Why, yes, I do enjoy pain. How could you tell?  ;)

Colors:

The valiant Human Remnant (that's me!) shall be purple, the color of royalty and victory. The AI will be a variant on red - the Sentinels orange, the wardens are a darker, burnt orange, and the hunters a deep American Rose. The Dark Spire will be a chilling black, with silver trim. They will be attention-grabbing, that is for sure.

Arc: Thanatos

Thanatos may seem an unusual choice, but I want a powerful fleet - and Thanatos will be the most helpful Ark in getting there. His zombification ability may prove invaluable.

Bonus Ship: Parasite

Ditto for these interesting fellows. You may think this is a strange set of ship choices - and you'd be right. Well, let me introduce you to...

The Plan

The plan is simple. I will start by clearing out the entirety of the AI in my small starting cluster, provided that there is no Dark Spire nearby (which I certainly hope to be the case!). From Grove, I will explore each of these 200 planets, hunting for valuable schematics. My main goal is to get lots of turret schematics - I will be using science on turrets, and comparatively little on my fleet. AI Progress will be a relatively low concern. Naturally, I can't let the AI become too powerful, but in general, getting a stronger fighting force is more important than making sure the AI remains docile.

I will grab all the schematics I can find, and then quickly increase my Sentinel Starships to Mark III. This will allow them to scout the rest of the galaxy without an enormous amount of trouble, and then this phase will continue. Meanwhile, I will clear planets using turrets and defend my own planets with even more turrets! Given my initial cluster has only one entrance or exit, I can set up an extremely potent whipping boy (that is, heavily defended planet) which can handle anything the AI throws at me. Other planets that I capture for schematics are ultimately decoys - it would of course be problematic if the AI took down a command station, but if that means it's not trying to take my true home cluster, ultimately it's an acceptable setback.

This is where the Parasites and Thanatos come in. I can't afford to cut corners on my force, not with a 9/9/9 AI and a Dark Spire of max intensity. However, I also don't want to put large amounts of science into fleet ships when that may harm my turrets, but I want both. As such, I chose ships that will let me get even more ships! I will only need to put science into one main ship type - that being parasites, and then hopefully be able to use the enemy's ships against them. In theory, this should let me have a powerful turret force that zombifies a sizeable portion of the enemy, letting me use it to augment my fleet until some sort of equilibrium is hit, where I'm gaining and losing roughly equal stolen ships of decently high Mark level. The Thanatos has the ability to do this as well, so science there should help... maybe. We'll see how much science Thanatos actually will get.

Eventually, I will get the following science spent:

Parasites up to MK IV+
Raiders up to MK III
Turrets up to Mark III+ (may be lower depending on turret desirability)
Thanatos up to Mark ??? (This will require some thought. I've not found Arks overly useful, if I am to be honest, but of those on offer Thanatos has the most potential. I still may leave him at Mark II or so, depending)
Military Command Station up to Mark II(? Unsure)

At this point, it will be time for my ultimate plan. I will figure out the location of the AI homeworld and send my Raiders to destroy the Dark Spire Ward. I may increase their Mark level as needed. It's worth noting that RocketAssistedPuffin says the Ward actually doesn't work, which is a known glitched that hasn't been fixed because nobody has been crazy enough to do something that would involve the Ward in any way. Until now, that is - but I refuse to cheat and I will destroy the ward as intended, necessary or not.

Then... I will hack the Dark Spire. I will return my force to my home cluster, build every turret I can handle on the key planet, get a forcefield down, put up a military command station, and do my best to weather the storm.

What happens here? The Dark Spire will rampage throughout the galaxy, ultimately destroying the AI and winning the war. That much is given. What is not given, is whether humanity will survive. Even if I manage to make it through to the victory message, the Dark Spire will still be rampaging - and that is why I have set up my planets as I did. With only one entrance to my home cluster, I can be rest assured the Dark Spire will approach from that one angle. And my quest, foolish as it may be, is to use my turrets, parasites, Thanatos... everything I have, to take them over and use their fleet against them, against ship after ship after ship, and hold them off.

ALL OF THEM.

I will consider it a victory if I can survive through to the AI's death. However, I will do my damnedest to go one step further, and make it through the aftermath as well. It's worth noting that, if I am careful, I can actually send science labs to any planet the Dark Spire takes down, and get the science for myself, whether I build a command station there or not. Such a strategy may prove invaluable for some last-minute strengthening mid-invasion.

And that, dear readers, is the plan.

Chances of Success: Minimal

This setup will push me to my absolute limits, and then a good bit further. I will make liberal use of saves and loads, but even then I would not call it a guarantee I will even make it to the hack, let alone through it. However, one thing is for sure - it will be damned fun.

Update Speed: Glacial

As a disclaimer, expect updates to be very, very slow. I'm in college, my next semester is not an insignificant workload, and I consider getting an A in Chemistry more important than saving the galaxy from certain doom against two nightmarish forces. I'm sure you understand.

Play along!

I will be posting saves along with updates of my progress. If you want to try your own hand at this nightmare, feel free to join in. Chances are, you'll be able to beat me to the punch of a Dark Spire hacking victory, considering my previous point. I am, for now, not uploading my starting campaign save, though I do have it. This is to make sure that those of you chomping at the bit don't get too much of a lead on me, when I'm away and unable to play on Winter Break.  ;)

Expect the first true episode to be out in a few weeks. Stay tuned, dear reader!
« Last Edit: March 14, 2019, 07:01:41 PM by Kesseleth »

Online BadgerBadger

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2018, 10:52:43 PM »
So there's a new feature to the Dark Spire in AIW2 and I'm not sure how well known it is. Every 30 minutes or so, the Dark Spire checks if there are any planets adjacent to a Vengeance Generator that have no non-Dark-Spire units on it. If there are no such units, the Dark Spire will spawn a Locus; if the Locus isn't destroyed in a few minutes, it transforms into a new Vengeance Generator.

So if you're not careful, you'll find the map littered with Vengeance Generators. This might only improve your plans though ;-)

If you don't observe new Vengeance Generators spawning at any point, even if there are planets adjacent to a VG without any defenses, please open a bug report.

Offline Kesseleth

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2018, 10:56:18 AM »
That's, hmm... potentially problematic. I may want some additional vengeance generators, but too many and my final stand may prove impossible, not to mention they'll spread like wildfire after the hack since defenses will be vanquished across the galaxy. Having said that, I think the AI will do a fine job making sure they don't spread too far in the early and mid game, since a Turtle AI will have strong defenses and even after neutering a planet there will still be turrets and fleets to help defend.

Personally, I wouldn't mind a (challenging and risky) way to remove Vengeance Generators. If I want to systematically eliminate the Dark Spire and truly win the war, that'd make this a true achievement! Of course, I understand why that may not be possible without crippling the Dark Spire's capabilities.

Offline MaxAstro

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2018, 12:00:54 AM »
Would be interesting if Vengeance Generators had a sort of "density shield", wherein they are vulnerable only as long as there are more generators on the map than there were at the start of the game.  So if you want to get rid of a generator, you need to let the Dark Spire build a new one somewhere else.

Online BadgerBadger

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2018, 09:02:31 AM »
You will have a window where you can destroy newly spawning VGs

Offline zeusalmighty

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2019, 08:20:57 PM »
On discord (way back, not sure when) an idea floated around that Badger expressed interest in, namely, that Dark Spire Vengeance generators could be hacked to temporarily remove their invulnerability (pissing off the Dark Spire to be sure)

Not a feature yet, but this kind of thing would certainly matter for the kind of victory you are attempting to secure

Offline Kesseleth

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2019, 03:23:21 PM »
WAR OF THE DARK SPIRE

PART 1: The opening

Welcome, one and all, to the beginning of the War of the Dark Spire. When we last left off, I had just finished preparing the game save. Today, we shall begin in earnest.

It is worth noting that I actually had to remake the game, due to a glitch where it said I won immediately. Here's proof that everything is as it should be (edit: sans one mistake I made setting it up again, to be discussed later. Don't worry, it doesn't make things any easier for me!):



The first order of business, of course, is to begin spawning in my fleet. For science, I purchase the Mark I Spider Turret, upgrade each other turret to Mark II, and bring up my Parasites to Mark II. I also grab mobile builders and MSDs. This leaves me with some science left over, which is fine for now.



Unfortunately, a lack of metal rears its head quickly, so said fleet will take a few minutes to construct. In the meantime, I brought my scouts out to take a look at the starting cluster.



And what luck! There's nothing hugely threatening nearby, which is not particularly surprising, but there's a Data Center, mercenaries to employ, and a Tritium Sniper Turret Schematic! Things are off to a great start. I plan to be taking every planet in this cluster, so knowing I'll be rewarded for it is a great boon.

With my fleet built, I start setting up some rudimentary defenses. VERY rudimentary, just ten pike turrets. My energy and metal are both low, after all, and I need to start taking planets as soon as possible. It won't hold off a huge attack, but hopefully it won't have to... Hey!



Looks like the AI got tired of waiting. This shouldn't be a problem. In fact...



We even got a friend. I have a good feeling about these parasites.



First order of business is Asperta, because I want those schematics. This should be an uneventful battle, but a save never goes amiss.



... Perhaps I spoke too soon.



Some of the Hunter Fleet makes it past me but not enough to pose a huge threat.



A bit of fighting and I push them back. No major issues so far.



It's not long before the planet is mine.

   

Military command station for now. I expect to replace it later but at the moment security is what is needed... that, and for those ships to be out of the way.



Kazus is next. My homeworld will be relatively secure once it's been eliminated. It means I won't benefit from high homeworld salvage rates, but that's acceptable.



The battle proceeds mostly without incident. I begin building a complement of MSDs and builders back on my homeworld. Meanwhile a few ships slip into said homeworld but I am not concerned.







Okay, now I'm concerned. My fleet returns home to deal with this threat.



And back to your regularly scheduled programming. I must move the shield on Asperta over the warp gate to prevent this from happening again.



Next up is Anabas. This cluster will be clear soon, thankfully.



Visit from the hunter fleet is delaying that some. Meanwhile I'm building some sniper turrets, which is why my metal is so low.



blink I should have seen this coming.



Lovely. I may need to reload a save I made just before entering this planet, we'll see.



Okay, eeeeverybody out. This bodes poorly. I'm just going to call mulligan and try this attack from the start once more.

Seems like this is a good opportunity to use more science. At the moment, metal is a heavy limiter, so Metal Harvester Mark II seems like a good choice. I'm also powering up concussion corvettes and sniper turrets, to Marks II and III respectively.





Ah, an incoming wave...



Not enormous defenses, but the best I can do at the moment. Now, on to attacking...



Ouch. For the third planet I take this is no slouch. Lots of ships. Getting some sniper turrets activated will be a boon, hopefully. I'll see what I can do.



Well, I'm making some headway at least. It's rough, though.



Have at thee, vile fiends!



Well, they've been repelled, though not without losses. It seems the AI's turtle abilities have come into play quite quickly.



Ah, I almost forgot about the wave. Looks to be well under control. I almost wish this was a logistical station so I could take advantage of salvage. Ah well.



With the capture of Anabas, I now have shield starships to assist me. Frankly, I don't see myself getting all that much use out of them, but more ships is (generally) better.



Octave is a much easier planet to conquer, it would seem. I don't expect any major difficulties conquering it.



Well, almost no major difficulties. This Orbital Mass Driver has the potential to destroy my Ark if I don't either move it back to Anabas, or destroy it. I choose the former, since Thanatos has little to offer at this point in the quest.



Damnation! The Wardens have arrived. This may complicate things, though hopefully they are weak enough not to pose too much of a threat.



A few turrets wouldn't go amiss in dealing with all these Guardians. Most have 90 armor so pike turrets will help.



Few things in this game are more irritating than an engineer prioritizing ships over turrets. And you can't set manual targeting and choose what to repair. Heh.



This planet conquering appears mostly successful. And it won't even cost any AI Progress, thanks to the Datacenter! What luck!



Meanwhile, another wave arrives. This one seems to be beelining toward the Asperta command station, which is concerning...



There. That should help.



This planet will be mine before long. Only two left before my ultimate plan may begin its first phase - "Whipping Boy Extravapalooza".



And indeed, there it is. Next up, is Tulev.





Now, Tulev is notable. Not because of its AI defenses - no, not at all. Rather, it is important because it is the gateway between my core cluster, and the galaxy writ large. Once I take it and Lederburg just below, if either the AI or the Dark Spire wants to attack me, it can only do so after passing through Tulev first, with the exception of Wormhole Invasions (which will be dangerous).

Tulev is the linchpin upon which a large portion of my strategy rests. I must have it.



Now may be a good time to mention these snipers. I must admit that I am somewhat concerned by them. I feel as though their infinite range may pose a threat in the future... or prove to be quite a boon for me. If I see a way to disable them or bring them to my side, I will give it some more thought.



Now that I've gotten past the slight hump of now metal I can build turrets with (something approaching) impunity! I feel the AI will not appreciate this, but that's acceptable. If only there was still a voiceover of the AI mocking your gameplay... I miss that.

YOU WANT MY PRESENCE FELT, MORTAL? WELL, YOU SHALL HAVE IT, FOR THE REST OF YOUR MISERABLE EXISTENCE.

... Well, I suppose I did ask for it.



These parasites are powerful. I almost don't feel a need to upgrade them further, when I can turn so many enemy ships so quickly at just Mark II. Of course, I doubt it will stay that way as I proceed...



mouth hangs open

I TOLD YOU. YOU ARE INSIGNIFICANT. I HAVE JUST ATTACKED YOU WITH MORE POWER THAN YOU EVEN REALIZED I WAS CAPABLE OF, DID I NOT?

In other words, I just ran into a glitch known as the Death Ball (or something to that effect), which launches far more ships than is typical. I should be able to handle this, with some additional firepower on Asperta, but it's definitely going to be a threat throughout the run.



I... I thought I'd disabled those.

HA HA HA

Well, whatever. This will simply make my eventual triumph all the more glorious.



And with that, Tulev is mine. It is time to create the Extravapalooza - a whipping boy the likes of which are seldom seen.



Well, there go my metal reserves. Still, look at that beauty. Every turret I have, in max quantity, arrayed so that each and every one will begin firing the instant ships enter from Gyarm. A military command station backs them up, tractor beams hold them in place, ambush turrets crush them all, and mines await them as well. I doubt anything will best this anytime soon.

YOUR CONCUSSION TURRETS ARE TOO HIGH.

Piss off.



The final planet in this cluster is Lederberg. It has nothing I haven't seen before, and now that it's been cut off from the Warden Fleet, I imagine it will be even easier to conquer.



Indeed, the planet is being conquered with little issue.



And with that, the last planet in the initial cluster is mine.



Things are looking good for our quest. The opening phase ends with seven planets to my name, the Extravapalooza has been constructed, and the AI has yet to put up too much of a fight (which was a concern, given the difficulty). Two things concern me, though. One, an hour has passed, so I'm due an Instigator Base, Cross Planet Attack, or Wormhole Invasion (well, not without 200 AIP) soon. The second is...

YOU REALLY INTEND TO STOP ME WITH A MISERABLE SEVEN PLANETS? I AM INVINCIBLE. I AM IMMORTAL. I CONTROL THE GALA- WAIT A MOMENT, DARK SPIRE IS ATTACKING. I'LL CALL YOU BACK LATER. click

... The Dark Spire. I've seen none thus far, but they're out there... and they're dangerous. Still, until I meet them, there's naught to be done. Until next time, brave adventurers. Stay sharp.

Saves will be posted soon.

« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 03:31:42 PM by Kesseleth »

Offline Kesseleth

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2019, 09:03:37 PM »
Hmm. Posting my saves here is proving a problem, for reasons I don't understand. Attachments are screwing something up, is the best I can fathom. Well, if you want my saves, please contact me directly and I will send them to you.

Offline RocketAssistedPuffin

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2019, 07:15:41 AM »
If you don't observe new Vengeance Generators spawning at any point, even if there are planets adjacent to a VG without any defenses, please open a bug report.

Can confirm that they do spawn properly. They also have no problems of destroying a whipping boy then immediately starting a Locus - which would be horrendous!

(It happened to me).
Autistic, so apologies for any communication difficulties!

Offline Draco18s

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2019, 02:26:24 PM »
Hmm. Posting my saves here is proving a problem, for reasons I don't understand. Attachments are screwing something up, is the best I can fathom. Well, if you want my saves, please contact me directly and I will send them to you.

I think you have to do itvas a zip file.

Offline Kesseleth

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2019, 10:12:33 PM »
WAR OF THE DARK SPIRE

PART 2: BRAAAAAWL FOR THE AGES


Welcome, one and all, to the continuation of the War of the Dark Spire. At the end of the last installment, I had just completed the Extravapalooza, and now I shall continue onwards, into the midgame!

DO WHATEVER YOU WISH, INSIGNIFICANT HUMAN. I HAVE POWERS BEYOND YOUR IMAGINING. YOU CANNOT THREATEN ME.



Now, this galaxy features 200 planets, which makes scouting hard. However, it's also a cluster map, which alleviates much of that. The best way to scout that I have found is to get together a big group of Sentry Starships and send them from location to location. Precisely how well that will work at Mark I, I am not sure, but thankfully I have enough science on hand that I can increase their Mark as needed. On my previous game - also a 200 planet cluster map - I scouted the entire galaxy with only Mark III. As such I don't intend to go past that, if possible.



... I literally resumed my game for less than one second after typing out that previous message. I cannot believe I was so on the ball with my guess of an instigator base. All the more important to scout, then!



Let me fix those misplaced Concussion Turrets while I'm at it. Much better.



I won't go into painstaking detail about my scouting operations every time, but it's worth going over them once. I give my sentry starships a handful of commands and then watch them like a hawk. As they proceed, their cloaking points decrease. When they hit zero...



Run and hide in the corner of the system 'til they return! It's far from infallible (and with these Mark I ships they barely made it anywhere before they had to retreat and hide, irritatingly enough) it's a sound strategy for revealing much of the map extremely quickly.



And, they're gone. Didn't make it very far, unfortunately.

YOU ARE A FOOL.


How about I grab Mark II Sentinel starships? Seems like the right time. I'll improve Thanatos as well, while I'm at it. An Ark form of the Parasites wouldn't go amiss.




Oh - and swap out the station on Asperta from Economic to Military.



Starship base of operations has moved to Tulev. I will return with more information once the scouting run is complete.

[S62]

You know what? I think a logistical station on Tulev will do the trick. I can't imagine the incoming waves will be sufficient to shatter these defenses, so the salvage will prove the better bonus. I still saved, though. Just in case.



Now, normally I would continue scouting immediately at this point - there's some planets north that are well within my range that I could look at. However, the instigator base is here - and it boosts wormhole invasions. Regular waves or CPAs I wouldn't be too concerned about, but wormholes? Too dangerous. I will take it out immediately. The datacenter nearby is a nice bonus.



Oh, that reminds me - stacking shall be disabled from this point onwards, unless performance issues begin to rear their heads.



This is what I must deal with on Gyarm, the first planet between me and the base. Looks like my change to stack settings doesn't immediately unstack the AI's absolutely monstrous forces.

IMPRESSED, HUMAN? GOOD LUCK TAKING THIS PLANET ON. YOU'LL NEED IT.


The Plasma Eye is a problem, but on the other hand the sheer number of ships present means it won't be active for a while. It won't be too difficult to build some turrets and start clearing it out.

It's worth noting that Gyarm is directly connected to Tulev, the Extravapalooza. I considered using Gyarm for that setup instead, actually, but it has three wormholes connecting it out, not one, so I decided against it. I'm not sure what to do with the place now, though...

No. No, the idea is coming to me, even as I type this out - a vision, from the Super Cat himself!

YOU MEAN...

Indeed, AI. The one who beat you when nobody else could have stood a chance. Kahuna! I shall prepare not one, but TWO incredible Whipping Boys, and the next shall be on Gyarm. If one was impenetrable, imagine if the AI is forced to travel through a second to reach me. Hahaha!

But first I must get rid of its current occupants.




A few mobile builders passing through enable me to build some turrets. This is my preferred strategy for dealing with Eyes - turrets are immune to Ion Eyes, and for Plasma Eyes I can simply build mine out of range (with sniper turrets for guard posts too close to the eye). For now, though, guard posts are secondary to eliminating the Wardens.



This is going to take a lot of turrets, though. I must commend the AI on its Warden fleet.

WHY THANK YOU.



The Wardens are even more numerous than I'd realized. This is almost ludicrous for being scarcely an hour into the game. I suspect I will continue to have to fend off the Wardens throughout the quest.



In the meantime a wave is launched... I find it laughable. There was more to the wave but it's already been destroyed, within seconds. My fleet won't be there to intercept it next time but I can't imagine they were even needed.



The Warden Fleet has been decimated. My sniper turrets will finish the job, one guard post at a time.



I feel like I blinked and then suddenly there was 40 strength's worth of guardians here. Weird, but it shouldn't be an issue, hopefully.



With the Eye eliminated it's safe to send in my fleet, and deal with the horde.



The tractor guardians may pose a problem but I think I can handle it. Worst case scenario, I do have a save from not long ago.



The planet is liberated! Setting up turrets here will be a bit harder than on Tulev, since there's more wormholes to protect, but it's still reasonable. Alterra and Harmony, two planets bordering Gyarm, definitely could stand to be brought under my control as well, for even better defense in depth, but I'm beginning to run low on energy to set up large defenses. I will leave them for now, and return later, once I have found a Zenith Power Generator.

Speaking of lots of turrets, I'm considering setting up a Warden Honeypot now. I didn't expect the Warden Fleet to be so dangerous but I will definitely need to find a way to deal with them, and the Warden Honeypot is the best idea I can come up with.

To explain the Warden Honeypot (which is not my own idea, but it is my own name - based on a type of defense in computer security called a Honeypot), I must first explain how the Warden Fleet works. Fleetships spawn from the AI homeworld, wherever that is in the Galaxy, several times per minute. Any time you have a lot of strength on a planet the AI owns, it will send the Warden Fleet there provided there is a path that doesn't pass through any of your own planets, where it will fight you until you have destroyed most of its ships. Then, it will retreat to wait for enough new spawned ships to try again. In the intervening minutes I presum it will simply have the Wardens patrol at-risk planets. At least, that's the best reason I have for why the Wardens were waiting for me on Gyarm.

To set up a Warden Honeypot, I will have to find a planet, heavily neuter its defenses, and then build turrets there, similar to the Extravapalooza. Since the planet still belongs to the AI, the Warden Fleet will continue trying to defend it, and thus not be defending other planets. That's the optimal scenario, at least, but I don't know the Warden Fleet's high-level behaviors when multiple planets are under attack. Does the AI choose one and hammer it indefinitely? Send a weaker force to each? Build up double the ships and try both at full strength? Try one planet and then the other if it fails? I don't know. Whatever it does, the Warden Fleet will be weakened by the Honeypot, and in this game that will be very, very useful.

 WEREN'T YOU IN THE MIDDLE OF DISCUSSING TURRET DEFENSES ON GYARM?

Anyway. Gyarm will be a harder planet to defend, is the point, but the AI will have to pass through it and Tulev to threaten me, which is unlikely to happen.

OH, IS IT?



Just for kicks, let's see if these Raiders can threaten the Instigator Base.



You know, I had the joke all lined up for when they got blown up immediately, but I suddenly understand why people like these. Destroying this base will be slow but absolutely possible, and these are only Mark I. I didn't use them much but since they have to be Mark IV for my plan anyway, I might as well take advantage to destroy high-profile targets. Much easier and faster than dragging my whole fleet through tons and tons of planets just for a Datacenter.



Well, not Mark I anymore. I'm not patient enough to let them plink away for as long as would be required at Mark I.



Hmm. Took a bit. Whatever the case it's out of the picture now. The nearby datacenter will be gone before long, thanks to a similar approach.



Gyarm, meanwhile, lacks proper turrets - let us fix that.



Hmm. Cruder than Tulev, but hopefully capable.



Meanwhile, we have ourselves a datacenter to raid. I initially brought in all four raid starships but one of the already damaged ones didn't make it past the tachyon gate. That shouldn't be an issue, however.



And downed. Easy enough. Now, with that concluded, more scouting is in order.



Starship Dock moved to Gyarm as well.



clacks tongue There they are. I was wondering... The Dark Spire. The most dangerous force in this galaxy, if left uncontrolled. Thankfully, "near the same planet" does not include the arguably nearby adjacent planets, so it's not quite as dire as all that.



40 strength. That's significant. I suppose all those turrets will come in handy now.



Not done with scouting yet, though making good progress. One of my routes was blocked by the Warden Fleet, leading to a swift death when cloaking ran out, so I was quickly rebuilding my sentinel starships to take an alternate route. One more run would assuredly be enough to have some good goals... but then this began. I haven't the faintest idea where this could be. And that makes it very, very dangerous. Or beneficial, once the hacking gets underway. I'm not sure.



Meanwhile, on Gyarm... Wait a sec, why are they still stacked? A glance at my settings says that stacks were still on. Weird. The attack doesn't seem unreasonable, at least.



The scouting has concluded. I wouldn't call it a grand success but it will do for now. Much more of the galaxy has been revealed and I can start plotting my next move.



snicker

Anyway, with the attack deflected, now is a good time to analyze the options available now. Looking through the Objectives page, I find a few things worth noting.



I mentioned previously my thoughts regarding Snipers. I see the AI has them here, which seems an opportunity to perhaps bring some to my side. On the other hand...



...there's a schematic for them as well. I feel this is the superior choice, since it's closer, comes with some Knowledge, and allows me to remove the AI's snipers with a hack later if necessary. I can always use the planet as a diversion and allow the AI to take it (and in so doing not be attacking the far more important core cluster), or just leave it to be taken.



There's also a Zenith Power Generator, which I could certainly use. It's bordering some dangerous stuff, unfortunately.



This datacenter is tempting but distant. I will get it later.

Of the three options, getting the Snipers seems the most promising. Still, I feel like I damned myself a little with such a large map. Getting anywhere will take much time and require traveling through many planets. Still, best begin.



Orsha, the planet with the Sniper Schematics, has a few paths available to reach it. One of them requires passing through Dark Spire territory, however, so I am choosing to move to the right of my core cluster to proceed.



The first planet to neuter this way is Alterra... oh, wow. 58 damned strength.



IMPRESSED? I HOPED YOU WOULD BE. THERE IS EVEN A PLASMA EYE.

Thankfully said Eye is a ways away from the Wormhole to Gyarm, so I can invade without worrying too much about it.



This AI is extremely powerful considering the AI Progress is so low still. I can't set up that Honeypot soon enough, can I?



Go, my Parasites! Turn the tide!



Uh... Hmm.



This is going poorly. A reload may be in order.



Or perhaps not! I lost most of my turrets, my metal is gone, and my fleet is in tatters, but it looks like I will pull through.



Actually, I am reloading anyway, so that the Dark Spire will work this time. Funny, since that will make the game harder, but there you have it.



All right, take two.



Really pushing it on energy, but since I'm going to start losing ships any second now it'll even out!

YOUR STRATEGY HINGES ON YOUR FLEET BEING DECIMATED? I AM STARTING TO THINK I HAVE OVERESTIMATED YOU, HUMAN.



Pushing my concussion corvettes to attack, since they have long range, and parasites, because they can turn enemies. Losses will be severe but turrets are starting to come up, so hopefully the tide will be turned soon.



Ah, there we go! I mean, umm... damn. It's started.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2019, 11:14:35 AM by Kesseleth »

Offline Kesseleth

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2019, 10:14:42 PM »


Indeed. The Spire has struck. This is foreboding, though hopefully it won't do too much damage right away.



And, we're out of metal. Frustrating but acceptable ultimately.



Destroying some engineers brought back my metal, and before long the Wardens are pushed back. The Eye will be destroyed shortly.



The planet is as good as ours. Unfortunately...



...threat will be spiking soon. That could be problematic.



All right. With Alterra effectively neutered, the next target is Tabar.



The planet looks far less threatening, at least. Rapid elimination of the Orbital Mass Driver will be needed but that is all that poses a huge threat here. I'll build my fleet back up and then carry on.



Another attack in the meantime. Looks unremarkable.



Oh, here comes the Hunter Fleet! I'll leave them to frolic, for 17 strength doesn't seem too threatening to me.



Thanatos is staying on Alterra, at least until the OMD is eliminated.



...

...

AI, how did you pull together 200 strength for one CPA? You're a turtle type.

... I DON'T KNOW.

Well, whatever. I'll deal with it.



At least the OMD has been eliminated.



And a new Instigator base, too. I'd be annoyed, but it's literally one hop away so honestly I'm not concerned. It'll be dealt with soon.



In fact, I'll send my raiders to try and take care of it now.



While here, let's take a gander at the planet itself. It seems pretty well-defended, though at least without an enormous Warden Fleet. Still, it's Mark IV and that in concerning.



Not to mention this guardian here, which has a similar power to my Parasites, though it isn't quite the same.



Meanwhile, on Tabar, it looks like my bombers have blundered into the path of the Beam cannons and will need to be rebuilt. I suppose that's what happens when you try and manage two planets at once.



Front row tickets to the Wardens showing up again. I can tell already, this is going to be a loooong campaign. Anyway, let's see how Gyarm is doing...



Oh. I'm pretty sure the defenses can hold out but this is still unexpected.




Okay, I'm not so sure anymore. Loading the place up with engineers and rebuilders. Let's look at the attack.



Oh, yeah. 200 strength. Right.



*wild applause* I'll bring the fleet in but frankly I don't know if it will help.



There goes the command station. Unfortunate but it can be rebuilt.



Okay, let's rewind that a bit. Fleet approaching *now*.



Fleet is on its way. Station is under conversion to military - risky but shield should keep it safe for the necessary five seconds. Engineers being built. Rebuilders on their way. Will load again from this point, if needed.



... And it's retreating. I'm actually a little disappointed.



It's still there, though. I'll press on and when it comes in for another wave I'll buy up Mark II engineers and possibly upgrade Ambush turrets, all the better to keep them at bay.



Oh, that was fast. Mark II engineers will help.



Or not. Damnation... I'll keep going and see what happens, but I might reload once more... Wait! They're retreating! It's a miracle!



I did it, for now at least. I'll move my fleet back toward Lusitania, albeit ready to command them to turn around at a moment's notice.



And, another round! Another braaaaaaaawl for the ages!



It didn't take long to push them back once more, thankfully. On a serious note, I honestly don't really know what I can even do at this point. If I keep getting more CPAs like this I'm going to have little opportunity to explore the galaxy and get stronger. In the meantime, at the least, I'll level some turrets.



... You know what? You're up, fortresses. It's your time to shine. I'm levelling you to Mark II. Don't let me down. And now I'm talking to them like they're alive. I may be going crazy.

LIKE THEY'RE ALIVE? I AM OFFENDED.



Okay, so maybe that wasn't a great plan. But once they're built!



Okay, now they're doing that dance thingie where they start approaching the wormhole then move back, then approach again. I don't even know what to think now.



This might be a forceful push from them...



Oh, right. At least one of the fortresses is built! That should help.



Well... I now have fortresses and a small army of turned ships. Pray that this is enough. I need to keep moving, the Dark Spire waits for no man.



And the Wardens have returned. Heh.



I worry that I'll need some matter converters...



We're making some progress, at least. Damn it, my energy is so low!



This is getting incredibly framey. Let's see how it goes...



...Wait, what, huh? I honestly don't know why there was a brownout. Whatever. We'll live. We have to.



Repelled again. This may just be how the rest of the campaign goes, honestly.



Anyway, back to what we're actually supposed to be doing. In order to carry on I will build four matter converters - unfortunate but necessary. Lusitania is stronger than before but not overwhelming.



Damn it damn it damn it. At least a lot of the enemy is distracted and goint to Tabar (thus not bugging my fleet)



The enemy is taking some interest in my fleet. This could get messy.



I wonder how much of this insane line of ships was from the CPA. Just... thinking about it. Not much else to do, when the game has gone this belly-up, you know?



More turrets will be required for this, I think.



Where are all these ships even coming from? It's like the AI has a hose.

*HIDES HOSE BEHIND BACK AND WHISTLES INNOCENTLY*



Destroy the light-blinded Dire Tethuida Guardian! For the good of all humanity!



... You know what? Bring it on.



I'm making headway, albeit slowly. This is an insane force, I can say that for sure.



... I did it. They're retreating. How much strength was that? Like, seventy? More? Whatever the case, it's gone now. And with that, the CPA has been defeated. I think that should wrap up this episode... I'm exhausted.

I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU REPELLED THAT, HUMAN. CONGRATULATIONS. HEH HEH.

Until next time, brave adventurers... stay sharp.

Offline Kesseleth

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2019, 10:04:28 PM »
WAR OF THE DARK SPIRE

PART 3: QUEST FOR THE SNIPERS

Greetings, brave adventurers. It is time to continue the War of the Dark Spire. Times have been busy, outside of my intersteller mission to save the galaxy from a machination of pure evil. It has been a decent while as a result. Regardless... let us continue where we left off.



Here is my fleet, on Lusitania.



And here is Orsha, which has schematics for a powerful looking ship known as the Sniper. To get there will require passing through five other planets, neutering them along the way. This will allow some slight freedom of travel for my fleet as a bonus on top of the new ship. I feel some slight wariness, though, for the Dark Spire waits in the darkest reaches of the galaxy, and I need to get my forces powerful quickly, before they begin destroying the AI and coming for me.

AND YET YOUR WHOLE PLAN INVOLVES DELIBERATELY LETTING THE DARK SPIRE DO JUST THAT. IT MUST WAIT UNTIL YOU DESTROY MY WARD, IS THAT IT? OF COURSE, NO SUCH THING WILL EVER HAPPEN, HUMAN.



The AI can think whatever it wishes, but all I know is that I must decide what planet to attack next. In the meantime it looks like the Hunter Fleet is moving toward Lusitania - a strange move, for the offensive force. Meanwhile there's 50 strength of threat all of a sudden - enough to be a sure annoyance. Battles like the previous one take up far too much time for my liking.



An attack arrives, and is repelled. It had more strength half a second ago, as seen in the attack notice up top. This is of little concern.



Meanwhile Lusitania is being cleared of its last enemies. The Hunter Fleet approaches, however.



Just passing through, it seems. Licking its wounds, I suppose.



Some turrets moved to the center for faster clearing. Metal is sparse but I am impatient.



... Okay, that was a terrible idea. At least I won't be spending metal on those.



All permanent items on the planet are removed, excepting the Warp Gate, Command Station, and the Fortress. I will leave my turrets for now, until the latter is taken care of... in fact, I will leave them for a time longer. I've been meaning to set up a honeypot, a diversion to keep the Warden Fleet busy. This seems as good a place as any - though I will want to move the turrets around later, once my metal reserves are restored.



Vardi is the next planet on course to the Snipers. Badaya, to the top, was also an option, but it has another Fortress so Vardi should be easier to conquer.



Powerful, and a Plasma Eye. Given its distance I am not too concerned, though. I won't even need to go near it to reach Sholla, though I will leave some guard posts behind unless I bring some sniper turrets.



Immediately upon entering I am greeted by the Wardens. On the way to the honeypot, hopefully, though annoying to run into them at the same time.



Oh, now that is a sight. The Wardens are passing me by, to engage my honeypot. Fantastic.



Some turrets of my own to eliminate those annoying sniper turrets. My engineers failed to build them quickly, though, leading to heavy losses. Annoying.



I will leave my nucleophilic turrets here to continue weeding out the remaining turrets. I will also make some sniper turrets to get rid of the last guard post, followed by the Eye. That will render this planet neutered.



Plinking away at that fortress, still... Sure is good I grabbed those. They're incredible! Speaking of, I have some waves incoming, courtesy of what I believe is the Double Wave Glitch. Pity, they'd removed that one last I heard.



Sholla, the next planet along the way, seems fairly unremarkable. Mark II, a handful of defensive structures, a fortress in the corner... nothing to write home about for the most part.



Damn, Wardens changed their targets while I was waiting for a few stragglers. Now is perhaps the time to enter Sholla.



Early movements into Sholla are going well. I should be done with this planet before long.



Just the one remaining guard post. Well, two, but the other is far in the corner and I don't care to deal with it right now. After this, Lorica...



It's but a Mark I, though the Plasma Eye may prove annoying. Its placement means I can maneuver the fleet and avoid dealing with it, at least.



Hmm. Poor timing...



HA HA HA. DID YOU FIND THE LAST CROSS-PLANET ATTACK DEVASTATING? ENJOY THE NEXT ONE...



I entrust this task to you, Raiders. I want that base down now.



Meanwhile, Sholla is safe and my metal reserves are plenty. I will have to drop off some mobile builders by the honeypot on the return trip, so that it can be properly equipped.



Lost one. Damnation. Ah well, this will hopefully be enough.



And another. The base is nearly destroyed, at least.



And then there was one. I will have to bring in a second wave just for the last few points, it seems. Annoying, but necessary.



I rather rushed to get replacements, which was perhaps a poor choice but given the low health of the base it should be fine.



... Stupid ship circling around and getting in the way of the tachyon array. This is your fault. Another set incoming.



There! Got the damned thing. Now, the conquest for Snipers may continue.



These turrets have served their purpose. I would prefer the energy now.



This planet poses no risk at this point...



Hmm, looking at the map, Sholla might make for a good diversion planet. Plant some turrets, let some waves crash against it, nab the science... it's a thought for the future.



It really seems a shame to let all this lovely metal go to waste, does it not?



The Wardens are beginning to flow through the gate on from Lorica to Culler. How many are on the other side, I'm not sure of at the moment...



Ah. Nothing too concerning. From Culler, it is but one more intermediate planet, until at last I will arrive at Orsha, where the grand prize awaits.



Just plinking away at the Wardens. They're weak, thankfully.

Offline Kesseleth

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2019, 10:06:04 PM »


Pushed them back. All too easy.



Some turrets, some fighting, and the planet is nearly clear.



Deleted my turrets on Lorica, as they are no longer needed. Now, let's see what awaits me on Atanasoff...



Damned large wave, for a normal one. Let me keep an eye on this...



Ah, yes. Having this menu open reminds me... The most recent update added Transports. I may have to make use of these.



Actually, they are being taken care of rather handily. That's nice, at least.



Atanasoff, my next goal... hmm. There's an Ion cannon here, but otherwise nothing particularly dangerous.



The tooltip notes that anything the same Mark as the cannon will not be targeted by it... and thankfully, I have on hand sniper turrets of the same Mark. That should make this relatively painless.



Its shields are damaged, at the least. It will be down soon.



Defeated.



This planet will be clear before long, thankfully.



More turret cleanup.



With Atanasoff taken care of, I am at last at my ultimate goal: Orsha. Mark IV, but containing the Sniper schematics I fought all this way to obtain. Here's hoping it was worth it.



*clacks tongue* This will be a tough nut to crack, it seems. Lots of turrets, an Ion Eye, and a Dire Guardian. Ion Eyes don't attack turrets, though, so that should help.



Let's see how these turrets fare. Some engineers will help, though they'll be shot down quickly.



Damn. The Shredder Drones are the problem, it seems.



All right, let's see how this works.



Rebuilders and engineers were downed within seconds, accomplishing little. Hmm...



This may come at the cost of quite a lot of metal, but hopefully those turrets will begin to make some headway.



All right, the turrets are up. Well, some of them. It's not pretty but it will do for now.

Offline Kesseleth

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Re: War of the Dark Spire - AI War 2 AAR
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2019, 10:07:01 PM »


This... could take a while.



Come on, rebuilders. Prove yourselves worthy of that name.



Damn me, these things are powerful!



I may regret this, but I will save beforehand just in case. I shall send my fleet in to pound the Dire Guardian into the dirt, then beat a hasty retreat before losses grow too much. Hopefully.



Damnation!



Another attempt is in order. Let us see...



All right, what do we have here... The biggest threat is the Dire Shredder Guardian, unsurprisingly. I wish I had MLRS turrets on hand - I think their fast rate of fire would prove an effective counter. The number of ships on the planet is very low, so my parasites will be of limited use as well...



But the energy use is exorbitant. This makes nucleophilic turrets the most powerful, though they didn't exactly fare well. Pike turrets can exploit the armor, too. So, pike turrets and nucleophilic turrets, followed by intense prayer. It's the best option I can see.



Just after destroying those turret husks I noted that the shredder drones themselves have very low armor. Thus concussion turrets are also likely helpful. I presume that is why they were out on the field to begin with... but it's been a week since I last had a chance to continue my quest, so I can't recall.



The hope is that, with the turrets farther away from the Shredder, they will have time to be constructed before the drones arrive.



The turrets are built! At the cost of an extraordinary amount of metal, but the Guardian's death will be worth the price.



These sniper turrets are dealing a bit of damage and saving a bit of time with which my other turrets can clear out the nearby foes.



This appears to be the critical moment. Have at thee, Dire Shredder!



A winning strategy. The guardian will perish soon.



Tangential, but... damn me, this is a frightening looking beast.



With the Dire Shredder Guardian taken care of, I would almost say the planet is as good as ours.

I WOULD NOT COUNT ON THAT, HUMAN.

Me neither, which is why I am saving immediately. If I recall, Dire Guardians never respawn, so that is a permanent blow struck to the AI nonetheless.



The sniper turrets will be useful for the rest of the planet. I won't make quite as many engineers this time, however.



This doesn't appear to be going too well. Nor too poorly, but still.



There. My metal will be gone shortly but so will those guardians.



The guard posts will be eliminated shortly.



Perhaps not shortly. Out of impatience, I will build turrets in the midst of the foes to speed this process some.



Ugh. Another one.

UGH. ANOTHER ONE.

At least we agree on something.



The Eye is removed. With that the planet is very nearly mine.



It would appear that the Honeypot was destroyed at some point. Annoying. I will deal with it later.



Finally! Planet after planet after planet of conquering. Sniper ships shall be my reward.



At this point, great care must be taken. Orsha is not part of my core cluster - in other words, it's expendable once I get all the knowledge I can from it. However, that doesn't mean I don't want to defend it - just that it will be less well defended than Gyarm and Tulev. We'll see how long and how well I manage to hold onto the planet. In the meantime, now is the time to lick my wounds, rebuild my fractured fleet, set up some rudimentary defenses, and decide where to go next... but that will be a tale for another day.

Until next time, brave adventurers. Stay sharp.