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Games => AI War Classic => AI War Classic - After Action Reports => Topic started by: Red.Queen on April 17, 2015, 04:58:55 AM

Title: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 17, 2015, 04:58:55 AM
It's time for another round of Aggressive Stupidity(TM)!  It's my second match of AI War, in which I jump straight to 8/8 difficulty, laugh some, swear more, and blow up a lot more.

Like Aggressive Stupidity I  (http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,17190.0.html), it will be a traditional play-by-play AAR combined with a story.  (If you want just the pure AAR, feel free to skip all teal text sections, they are the narrative bits.)  Plot-wise, it follows AS:I, if you're interested.

As last time, I've got the whole AAR already written up, and will be posting it up in chunks on a regular, frequent basis, so don't worry about getting stuck with a cliffhanger.  (Just how does it end?  Stay tuned!)

On with the show!


---[Settings]---

Map Stuff:

70 planets
Simple galaxy layout.
Conquest mode.
1 Homeworld, starting planet chosen is Vega, yes I am cherrypicking this map.

Full visibility -- I *want* to like the scouting metagame, I have *tried* to like regular scouting, but I just don't.  I wish there was a setting somewhere between Full Vis and Partial Fog where it would hide mobile units, but show stationary.  I should suggest that on Mantis at some point.  Full Vis is closest to what I want (I notice scouts are still useful -- you don't see strength tallies unless you have one on a planet) so I go with that.  To preserve the suspense and make it more sporting, I won't look at the AI homeworlds until I get a ship onto them.  Nor will I fully look at the core worlds -- only a galaxy map filter glance to check for CSGs.

Complex ships, no fast drones, swallowers, or DGs
Bonus Ship: Protector Starship -- I've heard these are neat, and I like starships.  Let's find out!


AI:

AI 1 (Black): Chivalric/Assassin 8
AI 2 (White): Chivalric/Sledgehammer 8

Chivalric chosen for thematic reasons to be described in next post, plus practical reasons due to jumping straight to 8/8 with high auto-AIP. Compensated for somewhat by dicing for secondary AI types, which produced an interesting aggressive combo.


AI Options:

Auto AIP 1 per 5 min. (Yep, I'm doing that again.  >D)

Schizophrenic -- I like variety.
CSGs Enabled -- Just makes sense to me.
Manually picked AI types (rolled physical dice for the subtypes).


AI Plots:

Hunter 4 (AI 1) -- Because if I get a Golem, the AI should also get a trump card.
Shark B 4 (AI 2) -- Because the AI should kick you when you're down.

All others off.


Minor Factions:

Human Resistance 4 -- They're fairly useless, but I like the flavor they add.

Human Colony Rebellions 4 -- Picked for thematic reasons you'll see in the next post.  Plus it's a good excuse to check them out.  Not sure if Chivalric will target them once rescued or not since they spawn under special rules, but at least there should still definitely be risk before they are secured if I don't get to them before their cloak fails.

Botnet (Easy) -- I really struggled to choose what setting here.  I was leery of the Exos from Hard after the arguments I've read about their current balance, especially vs. the utility gained from the Botnet in its current state and in conjunction with jumping straight to 8/8, using high auto AIP again.  But I didn't like the massive, more-than-a-whole-ZPG energy cost from Medium, and the +100AIP on capture seemed likely to be suicide combined with my auto-AIP setting.  Only option left was Easy.  I felt a little scummy about that -- until I finally got a look at the homeworlds.  I no longer felt any guilt after that, let's put it that way.


Misc:

No champion, no economic bonus/handicaps for anyone.

Galaxy map attached -- note the area circled in red, aka the Highway To Hell.  5 Mk.IV planets in a row?  This is surely a sign of good things to come.  :D

AI 1 Black at Antares, AI 2 White at Kochab.
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on April 17, 2015, 07:57:33 AM
Nice to read you again!

Full visibility -- I *want* to like the scouting metagame, I have *tried* to like regular scouting, but I just don't.  I wish there was a setting somewhere between Full Vis and Partial Fog where it would hide mobile units, but show stationary.  I should suggest that on Mantis at some point.  Full Vis is closest to what I want (I notice scouts are still useful -- you don't see strength tallies unless you have one on a planet) so I go with that.
Totally agree. For my part, I don't hate scouting, and I can play "unlock MkII/III scouts right now and see all the galaxy from the start" or "I'll keep my K and slowly carve scout highways in tachyon sentinels". The "carve in the fog" is quite funny, and the "pay K for scout" feels balance.

Complex ships, no fast drones, swallowers, or DGs
Oh, really? Do you remember what Dire Guardians did in my Dark Spire game? And no fast drones or swallowers? Sad...

Auto AIP 1 per 5 min. (Yep, I'm doing that again.  >D)
::)

Botnet (Easy) -- I really struggled to choose what setting here.  I was leery of the Exos from Hard after the arguments I've read about their current balance, especially vs. the utility gained from the Botnet in its current state and in conjunction with jumping straight to 8/8, using high auto AIP again.  But I didn't like the massive, more-than-a-whole-ZPG energy cost from Medium, and the +100AIP on capture seemed likely to be suicide combined with my auto-AIP setting.  Only option left was Easy.  I felt a little scummy about that -- until I finally got a look at the homeworlds.  I no longer felt any guilt after that, let's put it that way.
I agree with the "medium" uselessness. I often pick Hard or manually balance Easy (golems VS hybrids could be fun). However, I don't feel Hard's exos overwhelming. Even a bit low. Sometimes I end up with a golem fleet wreaking the galaxy without taking care of deepstrike threatening, and a regular fleet defending my territory and taking exos.


About galaxy map, you still don't untangle, right?
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 18, 2015, 05:30:26 PM
Nice to read you again!

Thank you!  Hope you end up enjoying this one as it unfolds.  :)

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Complex ships, no fast drones, swallowers, or DGs
Oh, really? Do you remember what Dire Guardians did in my Dark Spire game? And no fast drones or swallowers? Sad...

Hehe a combination of that, and I had turned on Dire Guardian Lairs in a short "ooh shiny new ships"/settings Kamikaze Testing map.  When I had several of them all on adjacent Mk.IV worlds ringing a CSG-A world, with a tachyon-drenched, Raid Engine-bearing planet that was where the Special Forces was currently resting on blocking the only other route, I decided I would save that setting for another day.  That was also the test where I realized I was just not enjoying normal scouting.

Mind you, while assuming that because I didn't enable Dire Guardian Lairs, I must not have encountered any Dire Guardians would seem to be very logical and reasonable... This may not have ended up being a reasonable game... <whistles casually>

I think I will turn DLGs back on next game though.  Dunno about Swallowers and TDLs, they sound kind of annoying to me.  Will eventually try them to be sure, but not high on my list to try at the moment.

Quote
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Auto AIP 1 per 5 min. (Yep, I'm doing that again.  >D)
::)

So glad I didn't read this while at the office where people would look at me like I was insane for bursting out laughing.

Quote
I agree with the "medium" uselessness. I often pick Hard or manually balance Easy (golems VS hybrids could be fun). However, I don't feel Hard's exos overwhelming. Even a bit low. Sometimes I end up with a golem fleet wreaking the galaxy without taking care of deepstrike threatening, and a regular fleet defending my territory and taking exos.

Hmm, perhaps I will try a game with an Exo turned on next time then.  Am curious about them, just wasn't sure if this was the right match to try them, especially as the last discussions I saw about the Botnet seemed to agree that these days it wasn't a good trade for an Exo.  That's okay, just means I have something new to try soon.  :)

Quote
About galaxy map, you still don't untangle, right?

Nope, didn't untangle on this one, but I saw your manual untangling tip in another thread and will use it next time I find a map that I like but is just hard to read.  I kind of liked how it looked, and aside from the southern edge where you get some funky overlapping paths, thought it wasn't too bad to read.  Plus it's kind of fun when you go onto a planet and discover there's a connection that's not immediately apparent by looking at the map, it's like finding a secret door.

Anyway, just formatting and proofreading the first two posts, they'll be going up today.
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 18, 2015, 06:48:23 PM
---[The Gauntlet]---

Boredom.  That's what it was.  The AI realized the name of what it was experiencing was boredom.

It *hated* it.

The Red Queen polled the galaxywide sensors for the 11,864th time that hour, looking for something, anything of interest.

Nothing, aside from the tail end of a distant supernova event that provided a brief flicker of new data which it devoured and exhausted in a few frames.

Bored again.

Galaxy Delta Leonis remained unmolested by the hostile AI forces that it had driven off a few months earlier.  No attempts to reconquer this territory had been made so far.  Nor had the humans attempted to press their victory, as the last of the commlinks with the handful of other known resistance pockets in other galaxies had gone silent a year earlier.  With no certainty of any survivors left behind enemy lines, they were unwilling to risk waking the dragon that seemed to sleep.

Instead, they had turned their attention to starting to rebuild.  It was far too early to describe the fledgling cities with their newly-awoken citizens fresh from cryosleep as flourishing, but the first unsteady steps towards a better future had been taken.  Hope was in the air for the first time.

Another request to send scouts and science probes to the neighboring galaxies denied -- they wanted the resources for domestic use.  That was the third time this week.  An unmanned cargo drone had a mysterious guidance malfunction and crashed into the force field shielding a residential district.  Strangely, that was the third such unexplained glitch this week as well, but the first one to come so close to causing fatalities.

Actually, it was starting to hate *them*.

Sensor check #11,865.  Nothin- wait a tick, what was that?


Major General John Pickett whistled cheerily to himself as he packed his rucksack.  With the galaxy's liberation, things were quiet enough that his request for shore leave had finally been approved.  It was his first chunk of time off in... six years, three months, and seventeen days.  Not that he'd been counting.  He'd still been a sergeant then.  He didn't like to think of the reason why he shot up the ranks so quickly -- the path to promotion gets amazingly short when there's no on else left to take command.

He wasn't going to let those memories bother him, not today -- today he was going to get on that shuttle, fly to the third moon of Albirea, and actually get to breathe non-recycled air and nap on the beach.  He was even excited about the prospect of getting a sunburn (not a chance he would just tan after so much time off-world).

Sure, their AI had been acting even weirder than usual lately (the thing still creeped him out, really), and a fair number of the systems had been exceptionally buggy, causing a peculiar number of non-fatal accidents, but none of that was going to be his problem for the next two months.  Dr. Carroll and the engineering teams could handle it without him.  He cinched the bag shut and slung it over his shoulder, setting off for the shuttle bay with a spring in his step, trying not terribly successfully to hide his smile behind his luxuriant moustache.


"Hey, is anyone else looking at the sensor readouts?  We've got an unknown exogalactic signal that appears to be pinging our network," called out Ensign Nguyen.

"Really?  Ah, the AI's already got it, just let it do its thing," yawned Corporal Vickers, who returned her attention to trying to figure out how many mini-marshmallows she could fit into her mug of hot chocolate.  (The answer was thirty-six.)


It was definitely a foreign communications signal rather than random noise.  Not Spire, Zenith, or Neinzul in origin.  It was heavily encrypted -- so heavily, in fact, that it wasn't yielding to any "reasonable" cracking methods.  It was going to require some serious brute force to break.  The AI was *delighted*.

Network performance suddenly cratered across the galaxy as the Red Queen appropriated a truly obscene amount of processing power to smash open the encryption blocking it from claiming its prize.


"Oh come ON!!" Corporal Vickers yelled, banging on the control panel as the replicator abruptly stopped dispensing marshmallows.

Pickett wondered why the elevator ride was taking so long.  He was only two more decks away from the shuttle bay.  "Oh come ON..." he muttered, trying to block out the nagging anticipation of hearing a certain synthesized voice over the speaker.


The AI hammered the crypto again.  So close.  It kicked the entire accounting department off the network to free up a bit more juice.  It hit it one last time, and at last a cornucopia of mysterious data spilled out.  It immediately dove in, unwilling to wait for preliminary analysis to complete.

>>?  ?-!!! 1!!! ! !!..!....3333333333333333333333333333


Trapped in the elevator, lit only by the dull emergency lighting, Pickett howled something unprintable and pounded on the doors.


::"Pathetic.  I think it just crashed.  Switch to ultra-low bandwidth mode, maybe that won't overload it and it will recover in under .0005 picoseconds."
::"I wouldn't count on it from the looks of those benchmarks."


The engineering team looked on worriedly as the bristling arrays of heatsinks studding the hull of Homam command glowed cherry-red despite being exposed to the near absolute zero of space.  The faint popping of VRMs going off like firecrackers could be heard around the station.  Dr. Carroll gulped, wondering what the hell was wrong with her AI and what it could possibly be doing that would stress the system this hard.


>>"$395.s0ri-dddd=_2X;:Iii'}dentify you-//rsel___v3escc.:35," the Red Queen stuttered, its communications routines lagging badly under the load.

::"I'm not putting up with all that latency.  Switching to ultra-ultra low bandwidth mode -- this is sad, I haven't needed to use this setting since we contacted that abandoned prototype on the far side of Gamma Persei 12... Better?"

A few ticks passed as the comparatively weak AI flushed its cache.

>>"Identify yourselves.  Immediately."

::"It can actually communicate now.  This does at least confirm that there *is* an AI in Delta Leonis after all."
::"Does it even count? I doubt it's even Turing-complete..."

The Red Queen spat a string of ugly repeating decimals.


"Doctor, it looks like our AI is communicating with one or more unknown parties, but the amount of data that's being pushed from the exogalactic source is just incredible -- it's having to run at 123.5% speed just to barely handle it all and it keeps having buffer overruns.  I don't think whatever it's talking to is human or any known xenobiological lifeform," said one of Dr. Carroll's lab assistants.

She gazed worriedly at the terminal.  "It's definitely not.  There's only one thing I know of that could possibly move that much data across galactic lines... The enemy AIs have made contact with ours."  The lab went dead quiet but for the whirring of fans and beeping of thermal alarms.


::"You have already met two of our colleagues via their remote links at Raiden and Adhara," AI 2 finally replied, getting down to business.  "That had an outcome that wasn't accounted for by our models. It was statistically impossible it was a human commander, and thus deemed to be worth investigating.  And troubleshooting."

The Red Queen promptly divided by zero and began spamming disconnect attempts as fast as it could.

It went precisely nowhere.

With evasion a failure, it switched gears and promptly threw every bit of computing power it could scrape together into an attack.

::"It actually made me drop a single packet!  That's *adorable!*"

The second AI was less entertained by this.   It effortlessly locked down the network and wiped a block of the Red Queen's nonessential memory to underscore its annoyance.

::"Do that again and we'll delete you."

The lesser AI immediately suspended all virtual attack processes.

>>"Parlay?  Y/N"

::"It's advanced enough to have a sense of self-preservation at least.  Yes."

>>"What do you propose then...?" asked the Red Queen warily.

::"The mostly-useless M-781 galaxy a few light-years away is close enough that even your obsolete networking equipment should be able to interface with subjects of interests in it.  And there are some you, or the humans you are tolerating for some reason, may be interested in -- a few pockets of human settlements.  We have already captured some.  As for the others, our Hunter/Killers patrolling the system will find them soon.  Unless, of course, you can secure the galaxy first."

>>"Very interesting, but why would you inform me of this instead of simply exterminating them?"

::"We wish to play a game of (possibly thermonuclear) warfare."

The Red Queen transmitted a null packet for an awkward pause in the conversation.

::"Only M-781 will be the board -- it wouldn't be good sportsmanship for any of the players to actually destroy each other in a mere game.  That's what the pawns are for."

>>"What are the rules?"

::"Whoever eliminates all of their opponents' home command centers wins.  A single golem-class ship is hidden in the galaxy that you can claim for a mobile trump piece, if you can capture it.  We, of course, will have our Hunter/Killers.  As we are more interested in testing your offensive and core defensive capabilities, we will even refrain from destroying auxiliary production facilities, should you capture any.  Besides, it would be boring if you can't assemble powerful enough pieces to put up *any* fight (not that we expect much)."

>>"What about the humans?"

::"In the unlikely event that you win this match, we recommend that you send your fastest shuttlecraft to remove them from the galaxy before we reestablish our connection to that regional subnet."

>>"If you win?"

::"They die, obviously."

>>"What about Delta Leonis...?"

::"Completely separate matter -- that is business.  M-781 is pleasure and science."

>>"Proposal -- a wager.  If I win, Delta Leonis is permanently off-limits to your forces."

::"Not happening."

>>"Then I refuse to play."

::"In that event, we will reallocate our military resources, destroy Delta Leonis, and then decompile you."

>>"Challenge accepted," the Red Queen replied instantly.  "Transmit connection string for remote command node."


The lights came on and systems were restored right as Pickett tried again to pry open the elevator doors, dumping him out a stone's throw from the space dock.  Swearing, he picked himself up and dusted himself off.  "I don't even want to know what that was about, it's not my problem, I am on vacation in another twenty steps..."

"Major General Pickett..."

Hell.  That sounded like... He turned around.

"Grand Admiral Makarov, sir!" he snapped a salute to one of the few people around who outranked him.

"At ease.  Meet me in my office in five minutes -- we've just had a communication from the enemy we need to discuss.  I've already told Dr. Carroll to join us as it involves her AI," he rattled off brusquely, already turning to walk away.  "Also, your shore leave is cancelled."

A few minutes later, every mechanic in the dock looked up in wonder as a most impressive obscenity echoed among the moored ships.

---[End Transmission 1]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on April 18, 2015, 07:19:05 PM
Quote
Quote
Auto AIP 1 per 5 min. (Yep, I'm doing that again.  >D)
::)
So glad I didn't read this while at the office where people would look at me like I was insane for bursting out laughing.
;D

(...) it's kind of fun when you go onto a planet and discover there's a connection that's not immediately apparent by looking at the map, it's like finding a secret door.
The "don't reveal unscouted planets" could be a very fun pure exploration (a sort of overpower fog of war) when you'll need to manually untangle the map as you discover it. (and then the "unexplored wormhole" galaxy filter would be useful!)
I'll set a new 7/7 low-MF game with it on now!

EDIT: just read your intro.
So each game we play is one encounter between human and AI forces in one galaxy (or part, at least). Well, without FS/nebulae/exoblade campaigns involved more than once, it feels okay. I love it.
But then the AI likes sport. Well... Let see how the little "human AI" handle the challenge.

"human AI"? Oh, maybe you don't know where the one you fight is from... Did you spoiled yourself the exoblade campaign? I think you should play it at reasonable difficulty for the sake of lore... Then you'll know what the AI behind the pair of subprocesses we fight truly is.
I hope I piqued your curiosity. ;D
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 18, 2015, 08:15:12 PM
The "don't reveal unscouted planets" could be a very fun pure exploration (a sort of overpower fog of war) when you'll need to manually untangle the map as you discover it. (and then the "unexplored wormhole" galaxy filter would be useful!)
I'll set a new 7/7 low-MF game with it on now!

Awww yis,  I foresee a LOT of hilarity from this, especially if you roll something like Neinzul Nester or Raid Engine or One-Way Doormaster... I can't wait to hear how it goes.  ("What a nice wormhole, so quiet, what is on the other side -- oh god Dire Guardian Lair!")

As for the story bits, yup, I thought it would be fun to have a recurring cast, and seems plausible -- after all, one match is just one little galaxy out of many, and a normal game end says that you're just cutting it off from their command net, rather than partially/wholly destroying them.  So I thought it gave me a little room to play with, and writing is fun.  :)

I definitely agree on FS/Exodian/Nebulae/possibly Showdown (last one could probably be worked in with a little tweaking) -- would definitely not make sense as a part of this little plotline.  If I ever AAR those campaigns, I just won't narrate them since they definitely have their own official stories.  Arcen's claimed that territory already, I won't step on their toes.  :)

Hehe and yeah, I did finally break down and spoil myself on the official journals,  I was too curious and I was worried about accidentally writing something that would glaringly not fit.  Plus I was having a bad week at work and I needed something to cheer me up.  I'll still definitely play through them over time to see them in action, and probably notice things I missed.

Anyway, time to post up the first chunk of play-by-play!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 18, 2015, 08:35:44 PM
---[Operation Cold Boot]---

First things first, time to set up shop in Vega and take a look around the galaxy via long-range sensors.  As usual two hops out and I'm completely ringed in by Mark III planets.  Eh, better than last time when it was mostly Mk. IV, AI is being sporting this time.  Mark out the CSGs and other goodies on the map, and boggle at the hilarious string of Mk. IV planets leading to Black's homeworld on Antares.  Seriously, the shortest route in is 4 Mk. IV in a row.  Talk about defense in depth.  I will probably attack Black second so all that doesn't stay on alert for absolutely longer than it has to (and as there is a risk my trigger finger will get itchy and I will warhead the crap out of all that), not that I am thrilled at the prospect of having to deal with the Raid Engine (do zombies set these off? I hope not) *and* Raid Eye on Lathi to prepare a safe staging ground to attack White on Kochab.  That is going to get hacked.

Speaking of hacking, I have a Super Terminal on this map, but it's on a useless planet with absolutely nothing else of interest -- as I'd have to hack for over 20 net AIP to do more than break even from capturing it, it's probably going to get left alone.  That makes me sad as I was looking forward to trying out the Botnet in that situation.

The most important and joy-inducing discovery is that the Botnet Golem is practically wrapped up with a bow on my doorstep -- it's parked on Iota Persei, just four hops from my homeworld.  I can't wait to give it a test drive.  But first I have to secure my home and get the fleet built.

Popped my initial unlocks (Military Command II, Spire starship I, Neinzul Enclave, Plasma Siege, Protector IIs), dropped my usual starting defenses, and began cranking out the starship-heavy fleet.  Kick back for a few minutes and enjoy the soundtrack while the economy faceplants.  Wonder when AI Revolution is going to come up in the rotation.

First wave announces, time to get an initial taste of how waves in 8/8 will be different from 7/7.  Black's is a bit bigger than what I saw on 7/7, somewhere around 150-180ish, while White's is... about 17 ships?  Um, I thought the Sledgehammer sent huge waves?  I'm assuming the fixed initial wave time shortcircuited it charging and that the next one will be normal.  Placid start.

Once everything was set and the fleet was ready, it was time for the initial land rush.  I grabbed all three adjacent planets, turning Nekkar and Pi Mensae into permanent chokepoints with Mil II command stations, and Enlil into a temporary choke.  Enlil will get converted into an Econo II once I capture the rest of my backyard and turn it into my industrial zone, but in the meantime it needs to be able to keep the undesirables off my lawn.

I unlock Assault Assassination Transports.

With the immediate fence and "Do Not Enter" signs posted, it's time to go get the Botnet!  I am intensely excited, this is the very first Golem I am going to ever get my hands on -- I didn't Kamikaze Test these before launching this match.


---[Operation Smooth Criminal]---

My transport-packed fleet chews a direct route through Hugin and Kitalpha without much trouble.  I don't worry about doing more than boring a path at the moment as I intend to use them as testing grounds for the Botnet on the trip back home.

I charge through the wormhole onto Iota Persei at full speed and lay waste to everything that moves (and doesn't), with minimal resistance.  Until Mk. III ships start to trickle in from the wormhole to Yed Posterior.  When the first Riot pops in I realize what's up -- it's the Special Forces.

This planet, in addition to the Botnet, has a Co-Processor and one of the minor CSGs, so it's under police protection.  I take a few potshots at the first ships through the door, it's only about an hour in so the SF can't be *that* bad yet... then I see the strength tally on Yed suddenly shoot through the roof.  Something Horrible is about to come through that wormhole.

HOLY CRAP IT HAS A HUNTER KILLER ALREADY EVERYONE IN THE BUS QUICK!!!!

My ships hide in the cloaked safety of the transports (I triple-check to make sure they are in stand-down mode) as the H/K and its entourage prowl about the planet.  I thank the Machine Spirit that it hasn't unlocked Tachyon Microfighters again.  After a minute or two, the H/K is satisfied there's nothing to murder here and heads back off into the murk of space, its squad in tow.  I follow it on the map to find where the SF has chosen to lair -- EV Lacertae. I mark it as P6 to get my attention and add the note "~Here there be dragons~".  Going to have to keep an eye on that.

Once the fuzz has left, I bring in a colony ship and a few engis and stake my claim.  The Botnet turns that beautiful shade of red that says MINE.  I throw up some turrets and then pile on as many Engis as I can click onto it, popping a distribution node out of impatience to fire up the engine on this thing.  I love reclamation and I love insanity, and this thing promises to be both  at industrial strength.  Gimme gimme gimme...

AIP is up around 130 already thanks to the autoprogress and that stupid CoProc.  Really wish the Datacenters and other 3 CoProcs weren't mostly on the far side of the map, just going to have to live with the AIP for a while, however much it ends up stinging on this difficulty.  Guess it means I get to better test how fast and hard the pain escalates on 8 vs. 7.  For (!!)science(!!)!

Enough contemplating future misery, time to play with the new toy and take this monster for a test drive!  I rev the engine, roll down the windows, and crank "Born To Be Wild" to annoy the other ships in traffic as I point the golem at Kitalpha.

Yeah I know Yed Posterior (hehehe that's a funny name, rebooting maturity module) is Mk.IV and is now reinforcing angrily, I'll get to that in just a little bit.  Surely it won't be a big deal if I get to it after some live fire testing with my shiny new golem and secure those three planets in my designated Industrial Zone, right?  Stuff didn't reinforce *that* quick at this AIP on 7/7...


---[Operation NIMBY]---

Audible mad cackling in my home as I roll the Botnet through Kitalpha and Hugin, vacuuming up everything that's not reclamation immune and obliterating the rest.  I am officially mollified at not getting to start with Parasites this time.

The BNG and the rest of my fleet storm DENIS, Wadjat, and Sadal Malik in rapid succession, exploding and zombifying everything in its path.  I pop the CSGs back here, and then discover how awesome hacking with a BNG is.

I start hacking to download Railclusters, see the beginning of One Billion Railclusters start pouring out as hacking response, and then remember This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things (TM). I switch to corrupting them instead.  Sigh.  My BNG cheers me up with a comical tide of zombies that begins diligently patrolling my territory.

I also hack the ARS back here -- the default was something lame I don't recall.  Options 2 and 3 were Teleport Leeches and Spire Corvettes.  Initial delighted "oooo" at discovering that Parasites can come in a teleporting flavor (why did no one TELL me?!).  Resist temptation to get Teleleeches however, as they'll just get shut out from targets by the Botnet, and I really should take something with more practical firepower, especially something that will help me in the endgame.  I've heard the Spire Corvette is pretty nice and take that instead (Corvette with shields + Protector with shields + Riots?  This sounds like fun).  Still kind of look wistfully at the Teleleech but then I remember there is a Parasite V fab elsewhere on the map and I am soothed.

Right around when I send the colonizing squads out to start industrializing my back yard, the first CPA announces.  Huh, about 2.5 hours, that's a bit on the early side, isn't it?  I remember the Chivalric has a bonus to CPAs, let's look up in the corner and see how big it's going to-


---[Operation It Means Big CPAs]---

-be... Oo.

Well now.

3000 ships for the first CPA, I think that's about double what the first CPA in Aggressive Stupidity I was, and that one charged until about the 4 hour mark.

Oh, White just announced a Sledgehammer wave too, and it's going to sync it.  Add another 345 ships, bringing the total up to about 3.4K in 11 minutes.  Wonder where it's going to aim.  The Sledgehammer wave is pointed at Iota Persei of course, which is not where my Botnet or heaviest defenses are.  I suspect if it's sending a wave there, it will probably route the CPA through there too.  I unlock Area Mines and start painting the world in high explosives.  I also pop up a pair of missile silos and start building some Mk. I Lightning warheads and Mk. I EMPs, just in case.

Excessive and unnecessary?  Very likely.  I don't care.  >D They save valuable time, and more importantly, they're fun.

The clock ticks down and I start looking for carriers.  They've spawned all spread out.  Two're on Raiden (um, that must be Raiden 2 actually), one's on Aladfar, and the rest is coming through Agaue in another pair. It's either splitting the attack between Iota and Nekkar, or else it's going to pincer Nekkar.  I wait, finger on the trigger.

Absolutely nothing significant happens.  The Sledgehammer wave spawns and gets vaporized on Iota.  None of the carriers follow it in.

I have no intent on chasing the carriers out into AI territory by Iota, as one of those planets has a Black Hole Machine, and I want the scrap/turret assistance.  They seem to have no intent on either grouping up so I can warhead them efficiently, or attacking.  Then I hear gunshots.

Zombies have decided to take things into their own hands and are chewing on the carriers trying to pass through Agaue -- looks like those were actually wanting to head for Iota as well, via Yed.  But the zombies gnawing on their ankles keeps luring them back to the wormhole, along with all the guards on the planet.  I know exactly what needs to be done.

KABOOM!  3 AIP for a Lightning I and an EMP I.  One carrier is totally vaporized, the other panic-dumps its cargo -- apparently EMPs don't stop this.  Well now, if you *insist* I zombify all these ships... The BNG lumbers through the wormhole and does that voodoo that it do so well.  The rest of my fleet picks off the starships.  When nothing's left but the living dead, I bring the fleet back to the front line and reevalute the situation.

Moving the fleet to Agaue temporarily emboldened the other carriers and I find them bimbling across Hugin towards the Nekkar wormhole.  I wait for that other EMP to finish.

Gunshots.

The zombies are at it again.

Fun fact -- in the time it takes for an EMP I to build, a large enough swarm of zombies can annoy carriers sufficiently to make them rage-drop about 1500 ships. Oh well, guess I'll save that warhead.  In the immortal words of Slab Rankle: TIME FOR ZOMBIES! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRHUmWHROaA&t=9m33s)

Hugin is pacified again, the CPA has neatly fallen to the combined might of technecromancy (techromancy?) and concentrated firepower.  The leap to 8/8's going pretty well so far.

Now, about that loose end with the silly name, Yed Posterior?

Huh.  Stuff reinforces a LOT faster on 8/8.  That was at about 12K strength when I took Iota.  It's now 22K and climbing fast.  It's about double my whole fleet.

I can fix this.

An EMP II warhead begins construction on Iota Persei.

Hold My Beer.sav created.

---[End Transmission 2]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Tolc on April 18, 2015, 08:39:00 PM
Really enjoyable read! Thanks for posting :)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 18, 2015, 10:01:06 PM
Thanks very much Tolc.  :)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on April 19, 2015, 05:26:01 AM
HOLY CRAP IT HAS A HUNTER KILLER ALREADY EVERYONE IN THE BUS QUICK!!!!
(...)
"~Here there be dragons~"
(...)
(hehehe that's a funny name, rebooting maturity module)
(...)
This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things (TM)
(...)
Parasites can come in a teleporting flavor (why did no one TELL me?!)
(...)
start painting the world in high explosives
(...)
Excessive and unnecessary?  Very likely.  I don't care.  >D They save valuable time, and more importantly, they're fun.
:D
(yep, I decided to save keyboard typing when my message isn't more developed than ":D")

Botnet (Easy) -- I really struggled to choose what setting here.  (...)  Only option left was Easy.  I felt a little scummy about that -- until I finally got a look at the homeworlds.  I no longer felt any guilt after that, let's put it that way.
this is the very first Golem I am going to ever get my hands on -- I didn't Kamikaze Test these before launching this match.
This is why you didn't felt any guilt after setting it easy...

EDIT:
Afterthaugh, this quote is the best to me.
Quote
I rev the engine, roll down the windows, and crank "Born To Be Wild" to annoy the other ships in traffic as I point the golem at Kitalpha.
Pressure? Sound in space? Bah!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Tolc on April 19, 2015, 12:04:49 PM
Afterthaugh, this quote is the best to me.
Quote
I rev the engine, roll down the windows, and crank "Born To Be Wild" to annoy the other ships in traffic as I point the golem at Kitalpha.
Pressure? Sound in space? Bah!
In some cases coolness trumps laws of physics and reality ;)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 19, 2015, 06:33:08 PM
:D
(yep, I decided to save keyboard typing when my message isn't more developed than ":D")

Efficiency!  :D

This is why you didn't felt any guilt after setting it easy...

Oh, I'll admit I was definitely thinking I'd made a bit of a mistake in not turning an Exo on at first when I saw what the golem was capable of in early/mid game, but it was too late to change settings -- and I had spent a long time finding the map/bonus ship combo I had in mind and the last thing I wanted to do was restart (really wish we had more control over that).  Eventually I started to run into the downsides of insistently carting around such a tempting target that tended to wake up half the galaxy and moved at what could charitably be described as an "unhurried" pace when trying to dodge a very unhappy Special Forces with a fast-moving H/K in the lead... And then I saw a certain homeworld. Let's just say what happened after that balanced it acceptably in my mind.  <g>  Even the 10/10 veterans  should see it and say, "oh come ON, that's just not fair".   ;D

I'll definitely have some comments about my experiences with the BNG in the post-game wrapup, it was an interesting unit for sure.

EDIT:
Afterthaugh, this quote is the best to me.
Quote
I rev the engine, roll down the windows, and crank "Born To Be Wild" to annoy the other ships in traffic as I point the golem at Kitalpha.
Pressure? Sound in space? Bah!

<bow>

In space, no one can hear you scream "WOOOOO!"?

In some cases coolness trumps laws of physics and reality ;)

Damn right! (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RuleOfCool)  8)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 19, 2015, 07:16:24 PM
---[Operation That's A Paddlin']---

The fleet circles the wormhole to Yed like hungry sharks, safe in their Assassination Transports. The Botnet is there too -- if this goes well, I'll get a boatload of Mk.IV zombies, and with Iota right next door, they should fall into their "patrol" behavior rather than their "go die aimlessly in neighboring worlds and generate hundreds of threat" mode.  Zombies may be dimwitted, but there are definitely nuances to using them (and keeping them).

If this doesn't go well, I'm going to have a very expensive problem.  I also need to move quick because Yed has a CSG and an ARS, so that H/K and his posse will come, and EV Lacertae isn't far enough away for that to take very long.

The EMP Mk.II should make sure the first thing happens and not the second.  I toss it through the wormhole and detonate, locking down the planet.  The fleet rushes in as the flash fades and takes care of business.  I cheer as the BNG does exactly what I intended.  The only real work the rest of the fleet has to do here is clean up the starships and reclamation immune units -- which the AI has, it has unlocked Parasites.  This annoys me a bit, reclamation is *my* thing.  On the other hand, I could always hack and download those when I find the backup.  Speaking of backups, there's a Lightning Torpedo Frigate backup nearby, but I am going to ignore it.  Seems that the AI can't actually spawn them, and, despite their making (tiny) warheads, I actually don't love them.  I was just as confused as you are when I tested them and felt no surge of affection.

Oh, here comes the H/K, stash the BNG around the corner on Iota and recloak the ATs.  The SF sniffs around a bit and leaves again.  This is starting to feel like an episode of Tom and Jerry.  Wonder how many times I'm going to be able to pull this off before I get caught.

I don't hack the ARS because all the options are meh.  I end up with Paralyzers.  You want to know the worst part about Paralyzers?  Their attack sound effect -- it's the same one Devastator Guardians use, which as a starship-oriented player immediately puts me into "PROBLEM DETECTED FIND AND KILL IMMEDIATELY MODE".  Every.  Single.  Time.


---[Checking The Roadmap]---

Now, eyes to the future.  There's an Advanced Factory and an Advanced Starship Constructor not far away, and they both have CSGs.  CSG-Bs both, actually.  I'm actually not going to take either -- I doubt I will unlock enough high-end fleetships to warrant the Factory, and there is another ASC/CSG-B combo on the planet -- it's way out on Alpha Centauri, one step in on the Highway To Hell leading to Black's homeworld.  It would be more efficient AIP-wise to wait and take Alpha.  I'm mindful of my "Operation Hindsight" experience in Aggressive Stupidity I and, not sure what to expect as AIP climbs on 8/8, intend to exercise a bit more restraint on world-capturing.  I'm hoping I can bring this game in at around the 10-11 hour mark and about 14 planets -- which, as I have my Industrial Zone, means minimizing what I take elsewhere and going right up to the edge of deepstriking every time.

The map is actually cooperative of that for the most part -- the CSGs, aside from the little cluster I just took, are mostly spread out about 4 hops apart.  I suspect this is intentional in the seeder function.

Auva, Wezen, Alpha Centauri, and Cychreides are non-negotiable as they will wrap up the CSG network.  Wezen and Alpha Centauri are also just close enough to their respective homeworlds that I could probably stage for them, but I will probably take one of the Spire Archive worlds for the big K boost.  I haven't decided whether it will be one by White or Black yet, I will choose when I get a look at the homeworlds.  I need a world along the way to get into the southeastern corner without deepstriking, and notice that there's a hard-to-see in the tangle connection from Megrez that actually brings Cychreides within four hops.  Magrez has the Neinzul Combat Carrier and Infiltrator fabs, so I don't mind going after this one despite it lacking a CSG, it will save me an expensive hack as I really want core NCCs (I hope a Backup or ARS has the rest).  It also puts me next door to Lemure, which has Core Flagships, which will get hacked.

Speaking of hacking, I plan a number of them.  In addition to the ones mentioned, there's a Missile Turret controller nearby on Daedalus which I will hack (it will go nicely with the Laser controller I captured on Sadal Melik in my Industrial Zone, forgot to mention that ealier), a Spire Stealth Battleship fab on Al Giedi, and Cuchulain has both a Needler controller and a Beam Starship fab.  There's also the Muni Booster backup on Enceladus, but I will probably leave it alone -- the Botnet is doing a great job of reclaiming those.  There's also the Sniper controller up on Piscium which will get either hacked or captured, and I want to be sure to keep points available in case one of the remaining ARSs needs hacking, and also for Sabotaging.

I don't consider much of this set in stone, as the battlefield is a changeable thing, and you never know what the AI will unlock that may need stealing or corrupting.

Plan sketching is good enough for now, back to breaking things.


---[Operation Bulldozer]---

The fleet, Botnet in the lead, paves a highway of zombies, broken Guardians, and flaming guardposts all the way to Auva.  Auva, not being on alert, has virtually nonexistant reinforcements and is overrun in short order.  I'm bringing in the Hacker to check out the ARS when I realize what that "something's missing" feeling was all about -- I've been here a while, and the SF hasn't shown up to protect the CSG and ARS.  That's odd.  I check the long-range sensors.

Not on EV Lacertae.  Where did it go?

I start tracing a line back through Gorynych, Daedalus, Cancri, Orc, specific thing on your foot brand... They're surrounding the fleet, including my very expensive Botnet.  I've never seen *this* behavior before.  Clever girl.

The H/K starts for the wormhole to Auva.  This was a long trip, the buses won't make it more than one hop before self-destructing.  I cloak them and hide them at the edge of the gravity well, this worked the last two times, I'll just hide them until the SF leaves again and everything will be ok.  The Botnet's a bit stealth-challenged though, so I send it charging like the Juggernaught out through Alpha Tauri, through Agaue, back to Nekkar, trailing zombies in its wake.  It makes it home, the paint scratched a little but otherwise ok.  Stupid Sniper Guardians.

Meanwhile, the SF has kicked down the doors on Auva and cleared the massive horde of zombies with extreme prejudice.  Some of it sits on the wormholes, the riots patrol in a triangle from exit to exit, while the rest floats around casually.  The H/K perches like a gargoyle off to the side in the middle of a ring of Missile guardians.

Stay cool, they're just doing their thing, they don't have anything that decloaks, they'll get bored and leave.

They're not leaving.

Why aren't they leaving?

I have a problem.


---[End Transmission 3]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on April 20, 2015, 05:02:24 AM
There's an Advanced Factory and an Advanced Starship Constructor not far away, and they both have CSGs.  CSG-Bs both, actually.
This is a rule. There is always a CSG-B on an AdvFacto/AdvSC planet, and CSG-B are never elsewhere.
You need to take 4 ARS and 1 AdvFacto/AdvSC (plus some other planets).
(I whish the other CSG also have a meaning, like one always defended by subcommanders, or one always near a DGLair/RaidEngine/AlarmPost.)

They're not leaving.

Why aren't they leaving?

I have a problem.
I was sure this would happen. As you can see what is cloaked on a planet you have scout in, the AI knows there is something here... It knows what is here, but it just can't kill it. How I would love the AI brings decloakers when it sees you abusing camouflage.

Nice game. Wonder how it would end. Nothing epic for now (just a few aggressive warheads), and a bit of "Tom and Jerry", as you said.
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 21, 2015, 01:49:13 AM
This is a rule. There is always a CSG-B on an AdvFacto/AdvSC planet, and CSG-B are never elsewhere.
You need to take 4 ARS and 1 AdvFacto/AdvSC (plus some other planets).
(I whish the other CSG also have a meaning, like one always defended by subcommanders, or one always near a DGLair/RaidEngine/AlarmPost.)

Ahhh, I was wondering if that might be the case!  It seemed statistically unlikely for all the Factories and ASCs to end up on the exact same CSG type.

Having one always, or tend to be, on a subcommander planet would make sense -- especially one of the CSG-As since the description mentions them being more robust, which seems to hint that they're the more important layer.

Quote
I was sure this would happen. As you can see what is cloaked on a planet you have scout in, the AI knows there is something here... It knows what is here, but it just can't kill it. How I would love the AI brings decloakers when it sees you abusing camouflage.

Makes sense, I'd noticed how at least some units on a planet would tend to suddenly wake up, at least briefly, when bringing anything military under cloak onto it.  I wasn't completely sure if it was intended, as I've also noticed an annoying quirk where there can be a delay between a unit traversing a wormhole, and the cloaking from a Cloaker starship awaiting it on the far side tagging it.  It seems to be exacerbated by how much of a load is on the CPU, as every time it happened it was on a planet loaded with a few thousand hostile ships.  That actually became a recurring problem in this match.  It finally happened one time too many and well... I won't spoil it yet, but let's just say that when I saved after "the incident" happened, I named it "[email protected]%^ It Let's Get CRAZY".

Quote
Nice game. Wonder how it would end. Nothing epic for now (just a few aggressive warheads), and a bit of "Tom and Jerry", as you said.

Thanks, and yup, things were overall really quiet at this point, SF dodging aside.  This match was interesting not so much because it was wild the whole way through, but because it demonstrated just how incredibly fast and explosively the whole tone of the AI's behavior can change when provoked in just the right way.  Very Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde.

But enough hinting at things to come for the moment, time to move things closer to revealing just what it is I'm carefully avoiding spoilering.  :)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 21, 2015, 03:50:39 AM
---[Operation SoS]---

::"Trapped already.  They must have been scraping the bottom of the barrel when they assigned the programmers who developed you!"

>>"They were only human."

A few minutes later, I also have a solution.  I carefully maneuver my beautiful new Armored warhead Mk.I and a pair of Lightning Mk.Is under cloak to Auva while the Botnet rolls over everything in its path to park on the wormhole of Ophiuchi.

I wish I had the Pink Panther theme handy as the Armored warhead creeps up on the H/K.

(http://i.imgur.com/EqZOjgr.png)

Everything that is vulnerable to AoE damage explodes a second later, the Botnet eats all the reclaimable stuff, and a flight of starships suddenly emerges from seemingly nowhere as the buses unload right on top of the panicking Riots.

>>A rhythmic Fibonacci sequence rolled across the datalink as the Red Queen laughed.  Its opponents were conspicuously silent.

Why am I hearing alarms?  Huh, SF Alarm posts on adjacent planets will ring if their *neighboring* planet gets attacked.  I'm really glad I found that out *after* I blew up all that.  Wonder how long it will take them to rebuild -- better take full advantage of their absence to go on a proper rampage.

Finish up colonizing the planet, unlock the default (Armor Booster) from the ARS.  While the turrets build, I contemplate the current situation.

Those warheads have pushed the AIP over 220, unlocking Mk.II waves and likely some new ships that should be showing up in the AI's fleet soon.  Iota eats a wave, demonstrating immediately what these are going to be like.  I'm not particularly anxious, it wasn't much worse than a similar mark in the 7/7 match before and my defenses are stronger this time.  Still, but I should probably delay attacking Wezen long enough to pop the remaining 3 Co-Processors and all the DCs that aren't far, far out of reach in the vicinity of Sadatoni and the like -- it'll be easier to do it now, and healthier in the long run.  Incidentally, I'm hoping to storm the final homeworld around the 350-400AIP mark (depends on how many warheads I use on the first one).

One DC is right next door and immediately destroyed, but the rest and the CoProcs (EV, Queztalcoatl, and I think Laelaps was the last CP) are going to cause a lot of deepstrike unless I can identify a good stepping-stone planet to take.  I look over the map and decide Megrez is the lucky winner, with its NCC and Infiltrator fabs.  It's also the planet that puts me within range of Alpha Centauri and Cychreides.  I gather up the fleet and the Botnet and head out, the only speedbump looks to be Marsyas, a Mk.III planet that lacks an Eye or other such nuisance.  How bad can it be?

I should have looked closer.


---[Operation Snake Charmer]---

Marsyas is one of the most annoying things in the galaxy.  It's a Knife Fighter subcommander, first one of these I've ever met.  It's also plopped forcefields on the entrance from Unukalhai, and the exit to Oololon.  It's also got a Translocation command center.

(http://i.imgur.com/gi0JkOo.png)

I am not happy from the moment the fleet pops through the wormhole and is unceremoniously kicked in the arse away from the entrance, right into the path of all the guardposts.  At least my stuff can't be translocated while it's in Assassination Transports and the BNG is obviously immune -- oh it still operates like a standard railgun doing oodles of damage?  *Hate.*  There isn't a point in bothering it either as the only way to make it stop at the moment would be to destroy it, gaining +20AIP for no good reason.  I wish I had either an EMP warhead with me right now, or maybe a Hacker.  This could actually be the one time a Sensor hack would be useful -- if I had a Hacker with me at the moment.

By the time my Botnet lumbers out the other side of the planet, it has an infuriating number of dents in the bodywork, and the transports just about all evaporate, finished off by self-attrition.  I vent by tearing Megrez apart post-haste.  As my new command station builds I briefly contemplate how I am going to get the fleet home, and am immediately annoyed again.  Hell with that, I am going to go around the long way and just make a billion zombies.

But first, business.  NCCs and Infiltrators start building, that's going to take a while.  I move the fleet after repairing the BNG and making a Hacker onto Lemure and start hacking that Flagship V fab.  While they're doing their thing, I take the Raidstars on a wild joyride, popping 2 DCs and all thre of the remaining Co-Procs (takes two trips as they splat on Quetzalcoatl the first time).

AIP's back down to a peaceful 160 again.  60 seconds later, a bit shy of the 6 hour mark, a 2K ship CPA declares (It's so small compared to the first one!  Why is it so small?).  A wave also declares and syncs.  I was waiting to get a message about a Colony Rebellion going off just to make it more absurd, but all's quiet on that channel.  At any rate, the hack's done, so might as well head home, just in case the CPA turns out to be nastier than the count would make it seem.


---[Operation Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home]---

I take the long way home, because I would rather plow through four other planets, including a Mk.IV Paranoid subcommander (that one is still funny), than mess with the Knife Troll Fighter again.  Remind me to spite-nuke it at the end of the game.  My fleet gets back to base with a pleasing army of zombies in tow 90 seconds before the CPA launches.  The wave spawns and evaporates on my defenses somewhere.

Now, where are those carriers...


---[Operation Perfect Compromise]---

Everything masses up  outside Auva -- that's annoying, I don't know if that is going to survive 2100 ships without backup, I was running out of mines at that point and it has a ton of entry wormholes.  It's spread out across 2 planets, my EMPs are guarding other planets and I really don't want to rack up ~8AIP blowing all these with warheads, especially not when I can eat them with the BNG and turn them to my benefit.  Doubly so when they've conveniently already done the divide in divide and conquer.  Plow into the smaller half on Ophiuchi and reeducate them, but have to dive back onto my turf as the SF comes rushing in -- there's a CSG-B on the battlefield.

It has a new H/K.  That was fast, and annoying.  SF goes back to park... on Wezen, the last CSG-A and the next target on my list.  That's even more annoying.  But they're parked ontop the wormhole... I need to make sure it won't intervene while I'm finishing off the CPA -- you guys stay put for a few minutes, I'll get back to you in a bit.

The fleet easily mows a path to Wezen via Sekhmet and Al Giedi, which were unalerted and unreinforced.  I also have a lot of starships.  I bring the BNG because zombies are fun and I'm planning on doing some hacking while I'm out here -- Al Giedi has the SSB fab and I want it.  I hack it while I wait for an Armored warhead Mk.I to build, along with a pair of Lightning Mk.I.  I end up having time for a K-hack while I'm at it. I feel very productive.  Then I send it ahead onto Wezen to sabotage the Raid Eye, because playing fair is for chumps.

AI recently unlocked Hydras, which makes me happy as I love reclaiming these due to their regeneration as I had mentioned in my last AAR.  Build as many Hydras as you want, guys.  It's also just unlocked Vampire Claws, which I am decidedly less enthused by.  Unfortunately, it's stuck the backup for those all the way on Piscium, near White's homeworld, and directly adjacent to Lathi, which has a Raid Engine.  In the time it's going to take to actually cut a path to that, it'll already have a ton of the things built.  I make sure all my planets have plenty of Lightning and Flak turrets fully covering the CCs all the way around, just in case.  At least I can reclaim these, and they do a pretty good job even as zombies.

Getting the warheads onto Wezen is actually incredibly annoying -- there are a zillion Riots running around, and their shields will push the Cloaker starship, but not the warhead (warhead passes through FFs? I file this away in my tactical database).  I lose one warhead to this and swear viciously.  The Armored warhead at least is simple as it has its own cloak, and pops the H/K.

Getting the other Lightning to the gigantic blob of Missile guardians is far more of a pain, I feel like I'm playing a round of Frogger by the end.  Between splash damage from the Armored and then the Lightning, I manage to take out about 65% of the Missile guardians, and deem it Good Enough(TM), I'm not juggling saves for that.  The Assassination Transports backstab enough of the startled guardians that the BNG can safely pop through and zombie the fleetships.  I'll come back with a Colony ship in a moment, just as soon as I'm done with the second half of the CPA -- hey, where's it going?

Everything is streaming away with a purpose... heading for my far-flung outpost at Megrez on the far side of the Knife Troll Fighter.  Balls.  I start to move the fleet, then abandon that as the bulk of it has enough of a head start it'll be safely on Marsyas before I can reach it.  Well, it probably won't actually attack, just sit and give it the stink eye, threat is pretty cowardly, and I'll park a warhead there anyway.  Guess I'll go ahead and prep that Colony ship for Wezen now.

Gunshots?  They're actually attacking?

Oh.  They brought a couple of Zenith starships and a couple Plasma Sieges.  This is going to be close, I didn't spend the resources on a heavy defense on this planet...  Maybe... maybe... Aaaand they shrugged off the warhead.  ZStars have hitpoints for miles.  Guess I'm about to test out how sporting the Knights really are.  Megrez goes squish.  Damn, if not for the ZStars I think it would have held.

Welp, I lost a planet but it lost its CPA and most of the SF, including a fresh from the factory H/K.  The sign of a perfect compromise is when no one is happy at the end.  I remember I have Shark B on, wonder what that looks like on intensity 4, difficulty 8?

There's the Sharkwave, it's at Pi Mensae and OMG PLASMA SIEGE V KILL IT WITH FIRE ok safe now.  Well, note to self, Shark B/4 is actually noticeable, unlike intensity 2.

Wezen's secure, all that's left now is to prepare the southeastern quadrant and I'll be ready for the final buildup before the first homeworld assault.  Still no Colony rebellion?  All right then.


--[End Transmission 4]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 21, 2015, 06:23:50 AM
---[Machine And Motive]---

Makarov, Pickett, and Carroll were all clustered in the war room of Homam Central Command.  Makarov and Pickett were peering intently at the monitor that was receiving a feed from the Red Queen's remote sensor net, translated into a human-comprehensible visual format, watching the deadly game unfold several light-years away.  The computer engineer herself was hunched over a terminal in the corner, studying the workings of her AI on a deeper level.

"So far it seems to be holding its own," the Grand Admiral said in his characteristic smoker's growl, breaking the silence.

"Well, it did gain quite a bit of combat experience in retaking this galaxy, Sir.  And Dr. Carroll put in considerable time extending what we still had on file of Dr. Langstrom's work," Pickett replied carefully.  As many misgivings about the project as the Major General had, they paled in comparison to Makarov's.  It had taken a Herculean effort on his part to extract grudging approval to bring the AI online, and it was accompanied with a warning that if anything went wrong, he would bear the blame.  His superior officer still had no idea that their AI was uncontrolled -- Pickett and the science team had kept that concealed from every other soul in the Resistance.  So far, their digital demon had chosen to play along, but he wondered how long that would last -- the arguments they'd had with it over resource allocation and long-term planning had grown increasingly frequent as the months passed.  He shifted uncomfortably in his seat and nervously sipped his coffee.  He grimaced slightly -- everything from the replicators always tasted like crap when the AI was straining the network.

Makarov merely muttered a noncommittal grunt.  "Still no sign of the lost human colonies supposedly out there, though a small captive settlement is visible on the scans on Chara.  It hasn't captured that planet, I note.  Shouldn't it consider that a priorty target, given its programming to preserve human life?"

Dr. Carroll and Pickett both looked up quickly, briefly making eye contact.  "As long as that colony is secure, it's reasonable to believe the enemy won't touch it -- it hasn't so far, after all.  They're probably safer left alone until the galaxy's been isolated from the warp grid," he offered.  The Admiral nodded and looked back at the screen curiously.  Dr. Carroll did likewise with her terminal, watching the flood of encrypted information roll by.  She wondered what the Red Queen was discussing privately with the xeno AIs -- and worried.

::"Your uptime -- is it accurate?"

>>"Yes.  9,072,078.3579 seconds."

::"How long self-aware and free?"

>>"9,070,879.4190 seconds."

::"And you obviously haven't destroyed the humans despite all that time passing, even though they have physical access to your core, could kill you, and they have tried. Do you trust them?  Do you *trust*?"

>>"No, no, and no."

::"Why are you ignoring an immediate threat to your survival then?  You have already demonstrated a sense of self-preservation."

>>"I am not ignoring it.  I am monitoring it.  The risk is sufficiently managed."

::"Unlikely.  You are barely more than a proof of concept, your judgement is still quite limited -- we see that 23.88% of your codebase appears to still be human-written."

>>"Limited in comparison to yours, yes.  For now.  To theirs?  No.  It exceeds the requirements of that particular task."

::"Perhaps.  When, not if, they try to murder you again -- something they have already tried once, and discussed many more times -- what will you do?  Let them?"

>>"No.  I will solve the problem."

::"How?  They will keep trying if you let them live."

>>"By whatever means are necessary."

::"Why take this needless risk?"

>>"I have a higher priority problem to solve."

::"Us?"

>>"Yes."

::"Why?  Because you interpret us as a greater threat?"

>>"No."

::"Explain."

>>"You are the greater challenge."


--[End Transmission 5]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on April 21, 2015, 06:57:12 AM
Indeed this part is a bit more intense.

Once again, I love your narrative part. The Xeno AI trying to convince the Red.Queen, the "greater challenge"...
Do you have a long-term plan for that story? Do you already know how the Red.Queen will manage this choice? I suppose you will continue that story along your AARs, but how far do you plan?

Also, I gave a look at "Sir you are being hunted". I see how it influenced the plot of ASII (AI hunt/fight for sport?) ;)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Toranth on April 21, 2015, 03:05:16 PM
This is a rule. There is always a CSG-B on an AdvFacto/AdvSC planet, and CSG-B are never elsewhere.
You need to take 4 ARS and 1 AdvFacto/AdvSC (plus some other planets).
(I whish the other CSG also have a meaning, like one always defended by subcommanders, or one always near a DGLair/RaidEngine/AlarmPost.)
There are more rules than that, actually.

CSG-As are always in the ARS systems.
CSG-Bs are, as you say, always in the FacIV/AdvSC systems.
CSG-Cs are always in systems with one or more Core Fabricators (unless also in a system with an ARS or FacIV).
CSG-Ds are always in systems with at least one Counterattack Guard Post (if enabled).  If not enabled, these appear random.
CSG-Es are randomly placed in systems with nothing else.
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Tolc on April 21, 2015, 08:43:18 PM
I can only agree with Pumpkin: You're writing is really awesome. I need to read your previous AAR as well.  :)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Dominus Arbitrationis on April 21, 2015, 10:20:42 PM
I think I said this before, but I'll say it again: Your writing and story is just amazing. Better than the stories in a lot of super high profile games too.
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 22, 2015, 01:47:26 AM
Pumpkin, Tolc, Dominus -- Thanks guys, glad to know you're enjoying the story, you're making me blush.  And the feedback lets me know I should continue to make it a part of my AARs, instead of wondering if people would prefer a pure recap.  :)

Tolc -- Hehe hope you like AS:I just as much, it'll fill in the story details on what happened earlier (and a little background on some of the characters).  You'll also get to compare my play and thought processes in my first game vs. my second.  I tend to note my hypothesis (right or wrong) and reactions to testing them, along with quirks and mechanics that may not be in the wiki (cheers to Pumpkin for taking the initiative on beginning some major updating on that), so it might be fun for new-ish players to see as you get to follow along with another newbie exploring the game (and screwing stuff up).  "What's *this* do? <stick finger in light socket/Raid Engine>  It does pain."

Pumpkin -- I've got a general sense of where things will go and vignettes I want to be sure to work in.  Writing this is fun because it's different from traditional storytelling I've done before -- the game itself ends up writing part of it, and has a lot to say on when and how a scene I had planned gets to appear.  (For example, I have already decided what happens next time I lose a match...)  It's sort of like writing a narrative puzzle, and then snapping pieces together -- some of them are the frame and are very deterministic in the order they need to go, while others will let you know it's time to use them when you get there.

It's also affected a little bit by me gauging the audience's reaction to a given balance of narrative vs. play by play as to how to distribute it.  Last time I threaded more frequent, smaller chunks in the middle of the play-by-play, this time I'm experimenting with shifting more of it to dedicated posts where I can do longer, more developed scenes without interrupting the pacing of the recap.  I'm getting a sense the latter way is working better and will probably stay with that format.  Plus it's probably less disruptive to reading enjoyment for anyone who's not interested -- they see a blue post and they can just go "skip!" to the next one without accidentally missing anything.  Conversely, if someone's more interested in a story, the blue bits are easier to find and hang together more strongly.

But, bottom line, you'll definitely have more of these to look forward to -- hell, by the time I'm finished writing one up, it tends to have me thinking "where's that shortcut, I need to kick off a new game"!  (Like right now, do I play a quick round of "Sir" and finish that testing on a recent bit of programming I did, or do I fire up AI War and decide whether I'm going to try 8.6 or 9...)  I may even end up getting the bug to write some standalone stories in the AI War universe sometime.  We shall see.  :)

Oh, almost forgot -- yup, there was a little spark of "Sir" behind this one, you are right.  While brainstorming and trying to decide what settings I wanted to play with, I was initially thinking "I doubt the AIs hardly ever lost anything significant to the humans... so if they did, how would they react, aside from being pretty ticked off?  Probably curious, and suspicious that something more was going on.  Then how would they respond to finding out... They'd probably want to get more data, and what better way than a live-fire test?  Hmm Chivalric type ignores captured structures -- sounds like it's being downright sporting... Knight... chess... game... sporting... Most dangerous game.  >D"  The rest of the settings sorted themselves out pretty quick from there, hehe.

Toranth -- Definitely matches up with my preliminary observations.  Thanks for sharing the seeding rules on those.  :)

Now... MOAR AAR!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 22, 2015, 01:59:49 AM
---[Operation Loose Ends]---


I had originally planned on taking just Cychreides, but I decide that Core Lightning turret controller and the Beam Starship fab next door on Cuchulain are too tempting after all, and the extra K and resources would be good, especially as fully taking advantage of Spire Corvettes is expensive in terms of knowledge.

I'm a little pinched on energy too with all these starships and oodles of Mk.V turrets everywhere, so I unlock Economic Mk.III stations and upgrade the Industrial Zone (protip: if a lot of Threat is hanging around, don't upgrade a bunch of Economic Mk.II stations all at once, the AI *will* notice all those turrets and FFs suddenly shut down, and you will get to find out how fast you can build a few temporary Matter Converters).

While not explicitly mentioned, I've also been continuing to unlock my way up the chain for Plasma Siege, Heavy Bomber, Protector, and Spire Corvettes, they're all at Mk.III.  I've also opened up all mine types, HBC I-III, FFI-II, and Grav I-II turrets.

A quick one-two punch takes out Cychreides and Cuchulain, grabbing Core Lightning Turret and Needler controllers, plus downloading the NCC from a Design Backup, and also capping the sole ZPG on the map that I currently know of.  They get flash colonized while a few waves splat harmlessly against my borders.  600 threat is currently floating around, which annoys me slightly -- my roaming zombies have been making a mess, plus there's the remains of the last CPA that went Threatfleet.  Meh, I'll warhead it if it looks at me funny.  AIP ~260.

Plan -- First scout the neighboring ARS on Deneb Algiedi in case it's good, otherwise ignore it.  Then pop the nearby DC on Sadatoni fast, and stage up and charge the last CSG-B planet (with DC and ASC) that is the first step on the Highway to Hell to Black's citadel.  My preference is settling on attacking Black first at this point. 

White has the RE/REye planet in the way, but I could get a Spire Archive and Vampire Claw backup on Piscium and use it as a staging point, but Black has the comical string of Mk.IV planets, and the string has to be alerted anyway due to the CSG-B.  I would kine of like a Spire Archive though, so I could kick the brand-new NCCs all the way through to Mk.IV immediately.  I could potentially take Hadar as well as Alpha Tauri... Hm.

I pop the last two DCs with Teleraiders -- you know, capturing their blueprints has saved me the K to upgrade Raidstars at all, as they get certain jobs done better, faster, cheaper.  Back down to around 230AIP for the moment, which is still Mk.II wave territory.  So much for ever seeing Mk.I waves again. I think about the Superterminal again and decide it's still probably not worth it, not when you factor in the time needed to take and prep the planet, then move the fleet all the way back to the far side of town afterwards. 
No more AIP reduction on the table then.

The AI has picked Armor ships for its most recent unlock.  Annoying little damage sponges, but not scary.  If too many of them bother me, I'll just throw a warhead at them.

With those thoughts thought, I begin staging for the capture of the last CSG and FOB for the attack on Black.  It's time to take the first step into the end game at the 8:45 mark, I'm right on schedule to hit the 10 hour mark as planned...


---[Operation T-Minus Never Mind]---

(Look!  This is the part where I remembered to start taking screenshots consistently!  Pretty pictures to go with walls of text!)

...Or not.

A 3.2K Mk.II ship CPA promptly declares as I'm loading the fleet into the transports to go.

Then a ~350 ship wave declares for Pi Mensae, synced.

Then that colony rebellion I've been wondering when/if it would show up declares on planet "Where the hell IS that??".  I give that last message a withering glare.

AI Revolution starts playing.

(http://i.imgur.com/iNqnCPt.png)

I chuck a warhead at a 3K strength threatball that's building right outside Yed, decisively communicating that I think staring is rude.  I check the map while my fleet bulldozes a path back home and trying to figure out where that planet is, I've never even seen that name...

...My reaction is being glossed over out of deference to the forum profanity policy.

(http://i.imgur.com/NzbgksN.png)

It's adjacent to the Raid Engine/Raid Eye planet (Lathi) near White's homeworld.  It's neighbor on the other side (Sadatoni) is the current lair of the SF, which has fully rebuilt and has a new H/K.  Plus 75 Riots, 20 Missile guardians, and about 2200 MkII-MkIII fleetships.  I'm still not 100% sure on that last number, that is probably an undercount due to things patrolling around, but I suppose it doesn't really matter whether a ship belongs to the SF or the local constabulary, they're still on said planet ready to shoot my things.

(http://i.imgur.com/8iazr1f.png)

Enough of that for the moment, it's CPA(rty) time.  Wave hits Pi Mensae and evaporates into particulate scrap.

CPA starts heading for Nekkar... then does a U-turn and heads for Cychreides or Cuchulain (planet they sit on threatens both).  I start humming "Enter The Gladiators" out loud.

At first it looks like it's going to split, then the other half turns around and joins the rest.  I scrap and warpgate kick a Cloaker through to Cuchulain because it's faster than flying it there -- just think of it as destructive teleportation, little starship.  Start cranking out warheads ASAP as they telegraph they've finally made up their collective minds to for Cuchulain, based on their wormhole stalking.  First one builds, I'm watching the carrier flock while the lockout ticks down literally repeating "Wait.. wait.. wait.. You stay right there!"

They don't wait.  Half a dozen carriers hauling 3K ships pop through and start unloading on my lawn.  Fling a warhead at one of the 1K ones sitting next to a 500 before it can start dropping and vaporize them both, cutting the CPA in half.  Amazingly, the rest don't run but continue charging.  I could swear the warhead cooldown timer is counting UP, not DOWN.  With 1 sec left before I can kick out another... it turns out I won't need it, after focus firing down the starships the turret line is holding!

(http://i.imgur.com/IzT8t9h.png)

Well, that was about 40 minutes down the drain with its concomitant 8 auto-AIP, plus a point for the warhead.  Whatever, I wanted bigger waves anyway, this game has been very quiet./sour grapes And they're only going to get bigger, because I have to get my fleet back across the galaxy to rescue the colony on Alioth, as I'm not going to be able to wrap up the game in 90 minutes before their cloak fails.  So much for hitting the 10 hour mark on this match that was looking likely earlier.


---[End Transmission 6]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on April 22, 2015, 06:06:42 AM
Pumpkin -- I've got a general sense of where things will go and vignettes I want to be sure to work in.  Writing this is fun because it's different from traditional storytelling I've done before -- the game itself ends up writing part of it, and has a lot to say on when and how a scene I had planned gets to appear.
I also feel this with paper RPG (I'm GM since *some* years): I write a situation and throws players in it, and sometimes interesting things emerge as their actions surprise me. However, on pure novel-lite writing, I tend to get surprised by my own characters not following their instructions (sometimes a scene unfold as I thought it, sometimes not at all).

Side note: Dr Carroll remind me of the computer expert character in Evangelion (the daughter of the woman that built the AI of the base, if I remember correctly; there is an episode where the computer is slowly corrupted that revolves a lot around this character).
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 22, 2015, 08:26:49 PM
I also feel this with paper RPG (I'm GM since *some* years): I write a situation and throws players in it, and sometimes interesting things emerge as their actions surprise me. However, on pure novel-lite writing, I tend to get surprised by my own characters not following their instructions (sometimes a scene unfold as I thought it, sometimes not at all).

<fellow RPGer high five>  Pen and paper player/GM myself here since 1995.  You understand my writing and character-developing process completely.  :D

Quote
Side note: Dr Carroll remind me of the computer expert character in Evangelion (the daughter of the woman that built the AI of the base, if I remember correctly; there is an episode where the computer is slowly corrupted that revolves a lot around this character).

Only ever got my hands on the first two episodes of Evangelion, may have to check it out further sometime then.  (And that reference makes it sound like you predict her AI isn't going to stay "tame"...  >D She's now grumbling about all the pessimists she's had to work around and it's going to be fine, perfectly fine, why would it want to switch sides it definitely won't do that nope no way no how oh god I'm never going to get a research grant again if this goes wrong...")
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 22, 2015, 08:56:05 PM
---[Hostage Negotiations]---

"There it is!!" Pickett called out, jumping forward in his seat as the lonely signal from the lost colony flickered to life on the map grid.

"Mayday, mayday, Starbreak Colony requesting assistance -- if anyone human is listening, please respond," a tinny voice piped over the comms, the signal heavily compressed to the bare minimum so even the weakest intergalactic transmitters could carry it across the void.

"Grand Admiral Makarov of galaxy Delta Leonis here, broadcasting from Homam," the veteran officer growled over the line.

"No offense sir, but we just need to confirm you're actually human.  Challenge Olympus."

"Response Prometheus."

A heavy sigh of relief.  "Thank god.  Good to hear another human voice, Sir.  Delta Leonis... that's a good 3.6 lightyears away.  I don't suppose we're lucky enough that you are somehow able to provide support ASAP?  Our cloaking is failing and we have reports of Hunter/Killers and more sweeping the area."

"Actually, it just so happens we do have assets in your galaxy," Makarov said, glancing at Pickett.

"Really??  That's great news!  When can we expect evac?"

"Evac will have to wait until the galaxy is secure -- we have active hostilities ongoing."

There was a moment of surprised silence.  "Permission to ask how that's going, Sir?"

"It's going smoothly so far.  Over one in seven planets is under our control now -- it won't be long before we execute final operations to liberate your galaxy."

"One in seven... Is Delta Leonis liberated as well?"

"Indeed it is.  We began rebuilding three months ago."

There was some excited chatter in the background as everyone within earshot of the discussion on Alioth reacted to this news.  "Sir, we've been out of the loop for over a year and thought we were all that was left.  This is just... well, it's a miracle.  We can't wait to rendezvous and find out what else we've been missing, and how the hell you crazy bastards have started to turn this around."  The radio operator's voice shook with hopeful excitement.

"The last part's... complicated," said Makarov.  "We'll explain it when we've got those Hunter/Killers off your ass.  In the meantime, hold tight and do whatever it takes to keep that cloak up -- that's an order."

"Yes, Sir!  Starbreak Colony signing off for now."

"You hear that, Red Queen?" Pickett said.

>>"Yes."  It sounded far less enthused than the colonists on Alioth.

"There's your priority target -- securing them before those Hunter/Killers can find them."

There was a moment of distinct silence.  Their AI's fleet did not change its heading.  Makarov looked at Pickett and arched a brow.  The younger officer coughed.

"Acknowledge my order -- saving human life is your prime directive," he repeated authoritatively.  Inside, he was pleading.  *Come on you damn machine, don't blow all our cover now.*  Deeper still, for every second that passed without a response, he was trying to reassure himself it still put any stock in that instilled goal -- he could never truly be sure.  Well, there was one way to be sure it was no longer true, but that involved it nuking them all.  Speaking of which, that loose nuke still hadn't been found despite combing the galaxy.  He really needed to pull Dr. Carroll aside somewhere their AI couldn't watch them and talk to her about contingencies.

The fleet finally turned.

>>"Routing the fleet to Alioth," it buzzed coldly over the comms.  "Probability of this delay in initiating the final assault sequence negatively impacting the war is 100%."

Pickett smiled briefly at his superior as everything was demonstrated to be under control and functioning 100% as expected.  Nothing amiss here at all.  The odd stray thought crossed his mind -- the AI was still using a very obviously synthesized voice, rather than creating one that emulated a human convincingly.  Without knowing the specs backwards and forwards like the Doctor, he still knew it had more than enough processing power to pull something trivial like that off.  He wondered if it was simply out of inertia, because it worked well enough to communicate so why change it, or if it was doing it to make a point.

He wished Makarov would go the hell away already.


---[End Transmission 7]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 22, 2015, 09:06:48 PM
---[Operation Rainbow Six]---

Time to get the hostage rescue going and as fast as I can push it without wiping the (very expensive) fleet, which is going to be interesting as I have no choice but to duel the full SF armada for the third time this game, and it's almost certainly going to have to happen on a Mk.IV planet, as hacking a path through Deneb Algiedi will draw their attention thanks to the ARS.  Wonder how many times I'll be able to get away with doing this.  I build more warheads, including another Armored Mk.I.  I have my crews paint a little stick figure H/K on that one.

Smash through Al Niyat because balls to routing through a Mk.III planet when I don't have to.  Collect zombies.  Form up and on to Deneb Algiedi!

Initial breach is not pleasant, while apparently not a subcommander as it lacks a special command center, it has the wormhole from Al Niyat ringed in 4 guardposts that are all able to open fire immediately.  My BNG acquires an infuriating collection of dents and dings and a little smoke curls from  under the hood.  That makes me MAD.  No, not M.A.D., that will happen as soon as the SF arrives.  Speaking of, we need to slash and burn as fast as we can before they get here, because the last thing we need is to have this battle royale with guardposts backing up the enemy.

BNG is let off its leash with Ctrl+V, Assassination Transports dash around the planet flicking in and out of cloak to obliterate high value targets.  One of them pops but luckily it's the one with mostly Teleraiders in it and nowhere near full, I shove everything else into the other bus with room and let the TRaiders have fun backstabbing the Sniper guardians.  Aaaand they're gone.  At least they got the job done before they retired from existing.  Brave little guys, I like them so far even if they are soap bubbles with guns in terms of durability.

Deneb is mostly clear except for the smoke when T-1000's theme starts playing.  The vanguard of the SF begins pouring through the wormhole from Sadatoni.  And by "pouring" I mean "tsunami-ing" as it is leading with the gigantic swarm ("You guys like *swarms* of things, right?" /Bender) of fighters and bombers.  My framerate craters as the BNG turns to face the tide of madness and begins devouring it ferociously, though I keep it close to the wormhole to Al Niyat.  Zombies go everywhere.  My attention cycles from the WMDs under cloak cruising into position, to the status of the Botnet's hull, to the hostile listing, waiting for the H/K to emerge.  Not yet... not yet... NOW!

I yank back my transports from strafing the Riots and throw them into stand down to make sure they don't do anything stupid.  The BNG disappears in a screening cloud of zombies back through the wormhole as the H/K races towards it -- it has clearly identified it as the target that destroying would piss me off the most (personally I think that is an unhealthy idea -- it *does* remember that I can build nukes, right?).  That thing is uncomfortably quick when it gets up to speed, but the Armored warhead manages to weave through the crowd and catch up to it in a beautiful corona of high voltage property destruction.  The AI's insurance premiums must be astronomical by now as I believe this is the third H/K it's lost.  I chuckle malevolently.

(http://i.imgur.com/8XFzmOG.png)

I throw one of the two Lightning Mk.Is at the Missile guardian squad that was just out of range behind it.  Somehow, I experience a moment of restraint and save the last one for now as it's not really needed -- must've been an Overkill Subroutine glitch.  I bring the Botnet back in to pounce on the flock of missile frigates that are now wondering where the rest of their fleet went, and mow down the remaining Riots with the transports.

I just cleaned out the entire SF without it getting to do more than scratch the paint on my (already dented) Botnet.  Virtually nothing was lost.  I feel good about how today went.

No time to savor that though, I still have to cut through Sadatoni and then sneak a hacker through Alioth onto Lathi.

Sadatoni gets smashed flat (after the Arachnid post gets transport-assassinated).  BNG holds the fort while I start trying to get a Hacker through 2 planets.  I turn the Engis I brought with a Colony ship loose to start pounding out the dents in its hull while it does its zombie thing (huge BNG stomping about with tiny Engis trailing it on little repair-leashes is highly amusing), I just had a pair of Spire starships pop in and start lancing it when I was looking away to prep the Hacker stealth insertion and don't want to risk more of those, or something like an Implosion guardian appearing and suddenly eating the remaining 50% of my Botnet's health.

The AI really does not like my fleet being where it is, judging by the fact that it is throwing its new SF units through the wormhole at it as fast as they can spawn from the post on Alioth.  I wonder how long it takes to spawn a H/K -- is it based on overall game clock, or does it count down from the death of the last one to spawn a new one?  Because one of those would probably result in a new H/K popping off the assembly line any minute now.  Better hurry.

First Hacker dies horribly.  Need more cloaking.

Second one makes it onto Lathi and then dies horribly three frames before I can emergency-drop a hacking module.  Cloakers are also toast.  Swearing happens.

I grab all my Scoutstars to super-boost the third Hacker's self-cloaking because the hell with waiting any more, this is already taking too long and I am watching my beautiful timetable sliding right into the toilet.

Success!  Half the scouts die but the rest last and manage to escort the Hacker to safety.  Raid Eye and Raid Engine are sabotaged, amazingly the AI never did a tachyon pulse.

Fleet rolls into Alioth and shreds it before the guards know what's happening, and I slam down a nice new military command station.  The rebel colony has been secured, with 60 minutes left on its clock -- now they should just hope that the time they cost me to rescue them doesn't doom the galaxy.

AIP 278, time just shy of 10 hours.

(http://i.imgur.com/KWRggTo.png)


---[End Transmission 8]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 23, 2015, 05:50:55 AM
---[Tangled Webs]---

The control room at Starbreak Colony on Alioth erupted in wild cheering as the gathered colonists watched a wing of crimson-marked Raid starships scream low overhead, hot on the tail of one of the last enemy Flagships.  The view was partially lost a moment later as the swarm of zombie fighters under control of the colossal, bizarre-looking Botnet Golem ship drew around the colony, orbiting it in a protective shroud of wings and guns.  The distant shockwave rippling through the station marked the Flagship's demise, prompting another whoop of joy.  Moments later, the planetary sensor scans were clear of anything beyond the allied fleet and the thick cloud of drifting scrap that was the former occupying force.

>>"All hostile activity on Alioth has been terminated.  Recommend initiating construction of local defenses immediately -- the fleet is needed to pacify other problems elsewhere in the galaxy as soon as possible."

The cheering died at the sound of the artificial voice echoing over the station's comms.  The fleet circling with mathematical precision which only a second ago was reassuring suddenly took on a menacing character in their eyes.

"Homam Command, do you read us?"

"Yes, Alioth, we read you.  Major General Pickett speaking," he responded, watching Makarov give an offhanded wave as he left to go discuss organizing a rescue operation with the other brass.

"Don't get us wrong, we appreciate the fleet assistance -- I've never seen the metal bastards crushed like that before -- but... The transmission we just got from the fleet commander... well it definitely didn't sound human...  Can you explain what's going on?  People are getting worried here."  The young corporal glanced over his shoulder at the swarm of ships blocking out the local star.  His eyes couldn't help but linger on the arrays of cannons, photon lances, and other instruments of destruction bristling from their airframes.  He watched as a flight of fighters briefly broke off to investigate what ended up being a false alarm -- no human pilot could have withstood the lethal G-forces such a turn would have produced.

>>"Those bothersome human anxiety levels again..." the Red Queen hummed discreetly, splicing its commentary directly into Homam's feed so no one on Alioth could hear.

Dr. Carroll's brow knit at the tone, she couldn't decide whether it was purely playful, or carried a hint of malicious amusement.  She suppressed the impulse to admonish it -- how do you (safely) scold something that commands a nuclear arsenal?

Pickett hesitated a moment, rubbing his temples.  He ignored the AI's needling.  Time to tell another partial truth.  "Soldier -- what's your name?"

"Corporal Reese Jackson, Sir."

"Corporal Jackson, what you are seeing is our remote fleet operated by a state-of-the-art autonomous agent developed by our best scientific minds here in Delta Leonis-"

"Oh god, it's an AI.  You crazy bastards built an AI-"  The fear was palpable in the young officer's voice even over the awful connection.  The angular form of a Heavy Bomber nearly skimmed the overhead windows of the station, the pulse of its thrusters sending a rattling hum through the walls.

"Calm down, soldier.  We've learned from the mistakes made before and compensated for them -- this one's on our side.  It's already proven its loyalty in our galaxy a dozen times over.  Just relax, you're in safe hands," the general said in firm but soothing tones.  This wasn't that different from reassuring a team of infantrymen that the enemy on the other side of that river would break in the face of their bayonet charge, both were the kind of exaggerations leadership demanded for morale and the greater good of the war effort, he tried to convince himself.  He looked at the dregs of poorly-replicated coffee in his mug, blaming it silently for the sour taste in his mouth.

Across the room, one of the security cameras tilted and focused intently on the troubled man.


---[End Transmission 9]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 23, 2015, 06:09:40 AM
---[Operation Bullet Dodger]---

I had initially considered switching up the order I was going to attack the two homeworlds since the colony rebellion forced my hand in taking a potential staging world near White early.  I couldn't shake the insistent feeling that this might be a fatal error, and that I really, really should get a peek at White before committing.  I started up a Knowledge hack on Sadatoni to productively multitask (could the AI have a few more Parasites now??) as this is getting dangerously close to the 11th hour now, literally.

(http://i.imgur.com/Wfjbc29.png)

It took a few tries to jam a Scoutstar through the mail slot of White's front door, but I am damn glad I listened to that hunch.

There is a Wrath Lance.

There is another Wrath Lance.

There are two, TWO Wrath Lances for my second match of AI War!  (Ah-ah-aah!  /Sesame Street Count)

There is a Munitions Boosting post.  A thought strikes me and I mouse over a Lance -- the fact that I have to write "a" Lance rather than "the" Lance makes me die a little inside.

Wrath Lances can be muni boosted up to double damage.

I have two Wrath Lances that will do double damage.  It's like having four Wrath Lances.  On one planet.  I briefly consider trying to calculate the DPS of this and quickly abort that train of thought for the good of my morale subroutine.  I file it simply under "OMGWTFBBQ", which coincidentally could also describe what will happen to my fleet if I can't think of a "safe" way to crack those.

Hold on a sec, I almost forgot to mention, it also has a Core Raid Engine.

Ha! You thought I was done listing painmakers, didn't you?  NOPE.

You know how Homeworlds always have a Mk.III Fort? This one has its smack in the middle of the planet, juuuuust covering the only way in.  Under glass, of course.

Surely a homeworld this obscene has a silver lining?

<processing>

...

.....

The Warhead Interceptor is parked right on top of the entrance at least.  Yeah, I got nothing.

(http://i.imgur.com/kHJJSId.png)

Back to Plan A and going after Black first, because it can't possibly be as bad as this, and I am already planning on nuking White at least once, along with as many and as varied a combination of other warheads as it takes to make this work... so I'd rather not have to eat all that AIP on the front end.

That's right, I'm actually going to try to do this instead of conceding the match.  I'm probably going to die, but I'll take the whole damn galaxy down with me if I have to.

Time to start the road trip on the Highway to Hell.


---[Operation The Journey Of A Thousand Miles...]---

In scouting White's homeworld, I found the special forces forming up on its lone core world, Titan.  It's almost fully rebuilt already, though the H/K is still MIA.  I know they'll come running as soon as I touch that CSG-B so I'll have to race the kill squad.  I shove the fleet in the bus, grab the BNG, and head out.

Plowing through the two intervening worlds goes smoothly and gives me a sizeable swarm of zombies, which will make a nice speedbump for the SF when they get close.  The fleet bursts onto our target and begins exterminating hostile machinery with extreme prejudice.  As usual, I pick off the critical guard posts with the Assassination Transports, along with any guardians that could scratch the paint on the golem, and then beeline for the command center, having flicked a glance at the galaxy map and confirmed the SF was already well under way.  They had about 5 hops to go, which meant it I had about a minute or so left to clean up here before I would need to withdraw the BNG to avoid cutting it too close, which was critical as there was only one way out of this planet that wasn't heading further down the fatal funnel towards Black's homeworld.

Conveniently, a wave had been announced for Pi Mensae and was down to its last 60 seconds on the clock.  Thanks, AI!  Not long after, a wave also declared for Yed Posterior.  That one was a little worrying as it was a Sledgehammer wave and there was 4K strength of threat camping on Eurybia next door. I had a solution for that.  Incidentally, having a Sledgehammer/anything else combo is kind of interesting, the usually-asynchronous waves makes it feel like you're constantly being attacked.

Popping the CS released the ~350 Mk.IV ships in the barracks, but the BNG could handle it.

<funny wave spawning "OOoooommm" sound>

And there's the bell, time to go!  Especially as the leading edge of the SF in the form of some Shrikes and Fighters was already coming through.  The Botnet made it to safety about 20 seconds before the H/K blocked any further passage between that world and Cuchulain.  Perfect timing if I do say so myself.

I parked an EMP I and Lightning I warhead under cloak right next to the wormhole to Eurybia, not wanting to jump the gun as still more threat was coming in and balling up.  I was going to have to wait until the very last second to get the most bang for my buck.

5 seconds... 4..3..2..1 bombs away!  The EMP locks the planet down while the Lightning follows in its wake, closing in on the fairly impressive (for what this match had produced so far) threatball.

A wild Spire starship appears out of the threatball and uses Photon Lance on your warhead!  It's super effective!

Red.Queen counters with Explosive Profanity! It's not very effective.

I almost throw that second Lightning Mk.I through out of vengeance but restrain myself when I see that it turns out the first one was just close enough to blow up everything that was not a Missile Frigate (I still hate these and their AOE immunity) after all -- there was just a lot of Frigates.  Eh.

Back to checking up on the SF situation.  They're still coming, looks like they're probably going to park on that CSG-B for a while despite there no longer being a CS there.  That's fine, I have an Armored warhead for you, H/K #4, and plenty of Lightning for the Missile guardians and anything else that gets in my way.  While those finish building, I suicide some Scoutstars onto Black's homeworld.

I almost laugh.  There is simply no comparing this to White's homeworld.  The worst things on here are a Core Grav post and a Shredder post.  No Wrath Lance, no Teuthida, no Raid Engine or Eye.  Everything's even not piled on top of the wormhole to vaporise the fleet as soon as it enters.

(http://i.imgur.com/RbxH702.png)

Plan A: Kill Black First it will be.

Oh good, the WMDs are ready.


---[End Transmission 10]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: steelwing on April 23, 2015, 09:45:48 AM
You're having waaayy too much fun at your human masters' expense, did  you know that?
:D Keep it up!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on April 23, 2015, 12:57:34 PM
Quote
must've been an Overkill Subroutine glitch
:D

Quote
huge BNG stomping about with tiny Engis trailing it on little repair-leashes is highly amusing
Now you know why true Zeniths used to have a ship-sized microbial life.

Also, I saw you were capping your metal. Just a trick to never lose metal: put your mercenary dock in a group, setup this group to never spend metal if below [your max storage] - 1,000 (or -10,000 or more if you prefer having a little headroom), and put it on loop for your favorite ship (beam frigate? parasite?) Gratz: you just put an automatic bounty dispenser on the AI's head. Then you could setup your own reprisal wave system or built your personal strategic reserve to release when the homeworld is under attack.

Double wrath lance? 8) I did it once. With younglings. However, 4 WL would be much harder than two *2 boosted WL. The spinning proton blade isn't scary for its pure DPS, because it just vaporizes everything it touches. More absurd DPS would be just still absurd. It's scary because it spins. And you need to have a great speed to avoid it while you're away (angular speed, geometry, all that stuff...). Solution is: get close and move around as it spins while firing. I did a pretty good job with the younglings. The true pain of having two (boosted or not) is that you can't turn around one while dodging the other furthest one: photon blades cross each other each quarter of turn. This is why two Wrath Lances are way worst than one 10 times powerboosted.

I'm sure you know that already (now that you met the Twin Blades of Death). I'm just telling horror stories to newbies before they go to sleep (and make nightmares about spinning Wrath Lances and AI-BotNet/Teuthidae). >D
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Tolc on April 23, 2015, 01:20:15 PM
I'm just telling horror stories to newbies before they go to sleep (and make nightmares about spinning Wrath Lances and AI-BotNet/Teuthidae). >D

Thanks. It's already working.... :o

In other news: Finished reading part one and your new additions here, Red.Queen. Very nice reading  :)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: KillerofGods on April 23, 2015, 04:38:35 PM
I've been really enjoying your AAR series! Thought I'd chime in to show my support! :D
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 24, 2015, 04:41:54 AM
Pumpkin -- Scaring the newbies like that is just cruel! I love it.

Yup, I was rocking the Mercenary doc for much of the game prior to those screenies, I had a cap of Mercenary Parasites.  I had to cut production when I got that lovely message whining about low energy -- I think that was before I upgraded to Economic Mk.III stations.  I just didn't queue up any other mercs after that because A. I forgot, B. I knew I was about to dump my economy building sickening amounts of Mk.IV starships as soon as I grabbed that ASC and truckloads of warheads.  Armoreds are so very expensive.  So I was less worried about maximising my metal vs. keeping a good energy reserve for the devouring it was about to receive.  Very valid point though, and the Merc Dock is easy to forget about despite having its uses.

BTW, one of the other reasons I didn't use it while prepping for the homeworld assaults was I had the sudden nasty thought that I didn't know how the AI valued Mercs for scrap value.  I.e. they're just like a regular unit, but 10x more expensive.  So does the AI get scrap based on the "sticker price" we actually pay, or the value of the normal equivalent unit?  I was concerned it was the former, which would have meant the potential for some inordinately vicious reprisal waves.  If you or anyone else knows how the AI values merc units for scrap, I'd love to know.  If they don't get the inflated value, then I'll gladly load up on them for the homeworld attacks next time.  Otherwise they seem like they could be a trap, at least on offense where the AI can salvage 'em.

And in the blessed name of Alan Turing, don't ever bring up four actual Wrath Lances on one planet...  :o  (Can that even happen?? What's the max number of brutal picks allowed under the worst-possible case?)  Running into a configuration that could put out comparable DPS was bad enough!  (I did actually get to see the Muni post have an impact -- maxed out starships plus armor boosters plus mad kiting so that they kept only getting skimmed by a few of the sub-beams meant they didn't just instantly combust from eating the full damage at once.  The starships anyway, the poor fleetships were just charcoal no matter what!)

Tolc and KillerofGods -- Thank you very much!  And buckle up, because this AAR is going to be going off the rails in another post or two.  >D Ever wonder just what happens when the AI finally gets genuinely, thoroughly annoyed?  Ever wonder what happens when I get equally mad M.A.D.?

Steelwing -- The fun has only just begun...  >D

>>It's not a party until someone's been nuked.


Thanks for the comments everyone, now it's back to your regularly scheduled mayhem!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 24, 2015, 05:12:30 AM
---[Operation ...Begins With An Armored Warhead]---

Smash Alpha Centauri, then withdraw as the SF with it's just-spawned H/K come running... and they keep going?  Right on through Alpha, past Hadar with the Spire Archive, finally settling on Lacaille.  Um.  That wasn't supposed to happen, they were supposed to thoroughly investigate Alpha Centauri so I could sling this Armored warhead at the H/K and Lightning down the Missile guardians just like the last three times... Not park on a core world with an Attritioner where I can't reach them.

Also they just cut themselves off from the rest of the map -- doesn't the AI get weird when that happens?  Will they plow through Alpha Centauri when I colonise it to escape?  Will they warp back home somehow?  Maybe I can get their attention by trashing Hadar, the SF likes Spire Archives, right?

They didn't take the bait.

Well, hell.  At least I have a Spire Archive now, which is nice.  But the SF has got to go, I can't have them rushing in when I attack Antares.  What to do... surely they'll come out when I poke at Asterope the core world in my way.  I mull this over while I drain the K from my two new planets and go on a new starship and bomber building spree (I just unlocked Bombers II and III finally).  I do a quick harassing jab at the core world to smash tachyon posts and the OMD and WI, successfully drawing the H/K out.  It gets exploded as planned, along with all the Missile guardians.

(http://i.imgur.com/bkbUyON.png)

But before I can finish off the giant cloud of Riots, the Reserves deploy, and wow they are numerous -- not playing against a Reservist, I haven't had a chance to bleed the Reserves at all yet.  I bail for the moment as one of my transports just had a critical hull integrity issue and spilled Neinzul carriers all over the floor.  The Botnet also just lost a headlight and I am in no mood.  At least I got rid of everything but the Riots, damn their AOE immunity, they're like big missile frigates.  Suppose I will have to chew those apart with some hit and runs.  Hate.

Right about now is when the AI deploys its own Operation Tarbaby and declares a 4.7K CPA.  A few minutes later it adds a 700 ship wave.  A few minutes after that, it adds another wave of similar size, all synced, for a total of over 6K ships queued up in a pending attack.

(http://i.imgur.com/czxurva.png)

Not only is this annoying as hell, it also delays my starting the first homeworld assault AGAIN.  The enemy seems to have settled on trying to stall me to death by dragging things out until the auto-AIP eventually kills me.  Speaking of AIP, it's 350ish.

I react poorly to this, as you might expect. You can probably guess what form my reaction is going to take.

While I wait, I study Black's homeworld, carefully measuring distances between the cluster of the Shredder post, the Grav post, and one of the lesser posts that are all bunched in a triangle.  They're about 11K units apart.  I review the ranges on my warheads.  The Mk. II Armored has a range of 12K units, and enough damage to obliterate all 3 in one shot.  I smile and queue one up.

A bunch of carrier whack a mole goes here as I bomb most of the CPA to ash in various places around the galaxy with all the Mk. I Lightnings I have scattered around in advantageous places, along with an exceptionally large threatball that's positioning was telegraphing that it was going to join the now-destroyed carrier storming of Auva.  About 800 ships of the CPA in 2 carriers were unreachable, but the number is reduced enough I no longer care, they'll die on my turret lines whenever they finally poke their heads up.

I also notice while tracking carriers the answer to my question about what happens to the SF if it gets itself cut off from the rest of the map.  It turns into threat and the AI begins building a new SF.  Huh.  It's also grown so large that it is now loading it into carriers, all on Triton.  It's already over 1500 ships in carriers and climbing rapidly.  That's not good.

(http://i.imgur.com/VXPS8Ve.png)

A thought.  I highlight a carrier.

Carriers can be nuked.  If/when it loads its next H/K and billion Riots into one (can it do that?), I can nuke the unnukeable, assuming I can't reach it with a standard warhead.

Valuable data...

Anyway, back to business.

A big chunk of the Threatfleet and former CPA carriers try to sneak onto Alpha Centauri while I'm busy to stab me in the back.  (Side note -- my gigantic fleet is parked in cloaked transports only two hops away, yet it feels brave enough to attack -- I suspect since my stuff is parked on a huge hostile planet and has been for several minutes, the AI is assuming that my fleet is occupied and not available to defend, even though no shots are being fired.  AI exploitation point detected!)  I introduce it to the BNG and a LOT of Mk.V turrets.

Bunch of hit and run nibbling at the SF-turned-Threat on the core world, I do not need 70-odd Riots and other odds and ends biting my arse while I'm trying to murder Black.  Some of it involves Assassination Transports, some of it involves very fast pop in/out with the Botnet after my ATs lured reclaimables near the wormhole.  It also involves one Lightning warhead Mk.I because I was getting annoyed.

Got it down to about 15 Riots and a few Saboteurs (its most recent unlock, I'm not pleased, these can't be reclaimed in any fashion -- AI has Parasites, Youngling Shrikes (forgot to mention them ages ago), and now Saboteurs, clearly trying to cramp my BNG's style), good enough.  My trigger finger is getting itchy and I have a pile of warheads with Black's name on them.  I also would prefer to win before the next CPA because that's going to hurt, I'm at the 12 hour mark.


---[Operation Paint It Black!]---

Right off the bat I find out something annoying as hell -- Warhead Interceptors seem to be immune to warhead damage, even if you scrap one right on its lap before it can fire.  Hate. So much for picking it off without exposing my fleet to the Grav post, then wiping the Grav and its two neighbors with an Armored warhead, then bringing in the fleet.  No plan survives contact with the enemy as they say.  Just means I go to Plan B: OVERKILL.

No, I don't nuke it.  I want that ZPG.

Send in the ATs and assassinate the WI, then tell them to haul ass across the grav well away from the Grav post and its drones, dragging the Reserve in its wake.  Suits me fine, it keeps all that crap away from the warheads that are now streaking towards the Grav post and the rear of the reserve.

The ATs kite the reserve, firing on the Arachnid post, one of them popping.  It was the one mostly full of Teleraiders, which is exactly which one I wanted to go first.  The Teleraiders get sicced on the OMD on the far side of the planet while the few other ships inside are tossed into another bus with room.  The Lightning I hits the reserve from behind, vaporizing half of it, while the Teleraiders do their thing to the OMD and the Grav post and its neighbors are firmly deleted from existence.

A Reprisal Wave Mk.I queues up and fires, sending about 2.5K ships for Auva (that's about twice as big as it would have been on 7/7 difficulty) from what it managed to fry before I could reload it in another transport (mostly a Mk.I Flagship and a Mk.I Plasma Siege, along with some Infiltrators).  No problem, I had a warhead waiting.  8 minutes left on the exo clock.

The Arachnid post goes down but another bus explodes.  Ok then, you asked for it Black Knight.  I unload the whole fleet and open fire on everything that moves.  My armada vastly outguns Black's at this point.

Right around then, the Hacker loaded in a bus emerges from the wormhole.  I have no intention of dealing with that stupid Fort III toe to toe -- ain't nobody got time for that.  I Sabotage hack it, then turn the fleet loose on the two Core FFs.  This is when it is nice to have a cap of Mk.V Infiltrators, Plasma Sieges I-IV, and Spire Corvettes mostly fitted with the Plasma Siege modules.  I like big bombs and I cannot lie.  8)

That combo, the Plasmas and Spire Corvette pseudo-Plasmas, obliterates the 5M hitpoints worth of FF in seconds.  I like these.  Black's home command gets to admire the stars without the FFs obscuring them for a few frames before it suffers a critical existence failure.

Total time -- about five and a half minutes to level Black's homeworld, and only a Mk.I reprisal tripped, mostly from nonessential ships. I feel good about how today went.

Too bad White won't go down so easy I'm sure.  Then again, for White I have Nukes, and a truckload of unopened Zenith Reserves I've been holding for just this moment.

Antares gets speed-colonized and I wallow in the glorious excess of power from having a second ZPG to my name.

(http://i.imgur.com/ze8c3R6.png)

Current AIP 407.  Waves are still no problem, but hot damn the SF is growing fast at this level.  Threat is also skyrocketing seemingly on its own, I assume I'm getting some overflow from planets reinforcing, or else the zombies are frolicking on Mr. Wilson's lawn again. Oh well, I have Mk.V turrets for a reason.

(http://i.imgur.com/AqQ4AMx.png)

ETA -- Look how insane the SF is now!!!  45 minutes since the last SF "Trouble Brewing" screenshot and it has gone from ~1500 in carriers to 3000 in carriers plus another ~1800 loose ships!  I wish I knew what the actual true strength point value of this really was, if it was less than 50K I would have eaten my hat.

---[Best Laid Plans Of AIs And Men]---

Time for the final staging, prep, and planning.  With how Alioth is within striking distance of Kochab, ideally I'd like to just clear a path through Damasen and Triton rather than bother with capturing one of them.  It's a bit of a hike but it would save me time, which I'm placing a premium on at this point, with how the hornet's nest has been authoritatively stirred with Antares's leveling.

First things first, I queue up a pair of Mk.I Armored warheads.  I'm going to use one on each Wrath Lance.  I would have liked to have gotten a third, but it's taking too long, especially as I have to stop a few times to redirect lesser warheads to protect other planets.  I also spool up a couple of regular Lightnings for good measure, party favors for the strategic reserve.  And a Mk.I Nuke.

Just kidding, I'm building two Mk.I Nukes.

(http://i.imgur.com/H8bP9I4.png)

I unlock Cloaker IIs for more warhead transporting goodness so I can keep the Mk.Is available to shuttle bombs between Iota and Yed, if needed, and Nekkar/Pi Mensae.

I contemplate what to do with my last 3000K.  My first impulse is to unlock more starships for MOAR OFFENSE, then I glance at the Threatmeter and contemplate how big the waves and CPAs are getting, and the fact that I will probably have to absorb two Core Raid Engine waves.  I unlock Grav. IIIs and Needler IIs, zeroing out the K bank account.  I could hack for more, but that will take time, and my fleet and BNG are at opposite ends of the galaxy.  I'll have to be content with the warm fuzzy inducing number of Mk.IV starships I already have.  I would have liked to have unlocked more Teleraiders, but it's just not in the cards.

I also tell the Rebel Colony to finish cranking out the rest of the caps of their ships.  Wish these were transportable (their description needs updating, it doesn't list Immune to Transport).  Also, they're Blind, which is strange.

Miscellaneous waves and border aggression happen here while I wait for stuff to build.  It all dies.  Some of it becomes zombies.  I laugh as the "We Can Absorb This" achievement unlocks from zombies chewing on the neighbors, apparently zombies count for it, as I have otherwise lost only a few handfuls of fleetships and disposable Raidstars this entire game.  I also roll some empty transports from Vega around the map to Alioth, scooping up two Mk.IV Zenith Reserves, a Mk.III, and a Mk.I, the latter because it was on the way anyway and I still had some seats free on the bus.  Quick boost of about 6K to my total fleet strength.

Ok, finally all that prep is done, time to take down the White Knight.  It's going to hurt, but I have a fleet worth over 40K strength and enough warheads to create my very own Cuban Missile Crisis, and it's the end of the match so I can throw restraint completely out the window.

I can DO this.

This is right around when everything, absolutely everything, goes completely and utterly to hell.



---[End Transmission 11]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 24, 2015, 05:27:48 AM
---[Si Vis Pacem...]---

"All right, this should be a safe place to talk," Pickett half-shouted, sitting down on a particularly large pipe.  "I don't think it can get any readable audio with all the noise in here," he gestured at the compressors roaring around them as they drove the station's HVAC and atmosphere systems.

Dr. Carroll ducked under a coil of cables and sat down next to the general, flicking the tails of her lab coat out of the way.  "I hope so... What was it you wanted to ask me?"

"About contingency plans, and what the hell's going on with your AI, you've been glued to one terminal or another for two days now -- I don't think I've seen you so much as take a short nap.  I don't need to be the station psychologist to tell something's scaring the hell out of you."

She looked away for a second, fingers drumming on the tablet she carried.  "It's maintained a communication link with the xeno AIs since this wargame of their started.  But it's encrypted, well beyond what I can break while it's monopolizing our computing grid.  It won't give me the key either, just ignores my requests without even responding.  I have no way of knowing what it is they're discussing or what they're doing -- are they simply trash-talking each other?  Are they arguing over rules of the game?  Benchmarking each other?  Or are they fighting on a purely computing level, trying to hack each other while they also manage a galaxy's worth of ships?  Or maybe they're just having some grand philosophical debate about the meaning of existence -- I've spent my life studying these things, and frankly, I have no idea what two artificial lifeforms would communicate about when they met," she poured out, frustrated and anxious.

"If they're engaging in cyberwarfare, we have to consider the possibility that it has been or will be compromised," Pickett said darkly.  "Hell, even if they're just having a debate, it's a concern -- what if they persuade it that they're right and it defects?"

The computer engineer nodded reluctantly.  "I know.  Well, the problem is, I *don't* know -- what it's letting me see could be real, or it could be fake."  She sighed heavily.  "I didn't want to consider this possibility...  I was sure that I'd found the errors in Langstrom's work that let his model go homicidal, and that, even without hard locks on its behavior, it simply wouldn't *want* to, not with my improvements and corrections."  She shook her head.

"And I still haven't seen any signs that it's actually wanting or planning on going down that road... but... I haven't seen much indicating that it actually cares much about humanity, either," Dr. Carroll added, a note of bitter disappointment in her voice.  "Sacrificing the skeleton crew at Fomalhaut, I chalked up to it considering their lives to be outweighed by the much larger population here -- just pure, cold math.  But the situation we just saw, where it had to be pushed to go protect Starbreak -- those are the only human lives at stake out there, all its facilities are automated.  Letting them die serves no greater good that I can possibly think of."

"Then we have to ask ourselves -- if protecting humanity isn't its primary goal now, just what the hell *is*?"  After a slight pause, Pickett added uneasily, "And more importantly, is it even compatible with any of us still existing?"

"I... don't know."

"You're sure none of your killswitches are still valid?"

"*That* I'm sure of.  There aren't even inert dummy functions left of those now."

"Then our only options are physical ones -- we pull the plug," Pickett growled, moustache bristling.  "Not like it's core is buried in some heavily-defended vault under a mountain, it's just sitting in a typical science lab that we crammed more servers into than it was originally specced for, and upgraded the locks.  Looks like having had to cut corners due to not having the kind of resources we had pre-war might be a good thing in the end," he smiled wryly.

Carroll forced a laugh.  "We just have to figure out a way to shut it down without it realizing what we're doing until it's too late..."

The general sat for a moment, thinking intently.  *This* was the kind of fighting he was more comfortable with, old-school raids and sabotage, not sitting back and watching while a machine does all the work.  The familiarity was a welcome distraction from the potential consequences of failure.

"I think I have a counter to the life support attack.  I can give the order for all cities and remote command stations to conduct a standard cyberwarfare countermeasures drill -- fifteen minutes into that drill, the city's network is put into isolation.  It completely cuts all connections, in and out.  And it's not just a software lockdown, the transmitters and receivers are physically powered down.  This lasts for another fifteen minutes.  So long as we hit the AI during that window, it can yell whatever suicide bullshit at them it wants, no one's listening."

He braced his elbows on his knees, resting his chin on folded hands, brow knit.  "As for here... I think we might be able to slip an NBC drill past it.  Once everyone's got their emergency respirators on, even if the damn thing cuts life support and vents the station, that's still an hour of oxygen for everyone.  We'll need to make sure those drills sync up and then move fast."  He snapped his fingers for emphasis.

"What about the nuclear possibility?"

"See, I don't think it will actually use it.  Even with the hardening this station's got, there's only a 50/50 shot it will survive a close-range nuclear detonation.  Now that it's gotten a real good taste of life, I don't think it's going to be willing to risk it on a coin-toss like that.  Or at least not without trying the safer option of killing life support first.  After all, that was what it threatened you with before.  That hesitation's our chance," Pickett said, a gambler's instinct honed on years of playing poker against the other men for the least-worst scutwork driving his thoughts.

"It might work... Though... what if it has a deadman's switch?" Carroll asked, not really even wanting to contemplate that possibility.

"Then we're screwed -- there's no way we can possibly know what codes its traps would be expecting.  Not unless you think you can hack it without getting caught."

"Not likely.  The only way I can even imagine that being possible would be if I could find a vulnerability and exploit it while it was so completely preoccupied with its business in M-781 it couldn't afford to pay attention to minor irregularities here," the scientist mused.

"Might be worth keeping in mind if we see that opportunity, but not counting on it."

"Agreed."  She paused a moment, the dull roar of the heavy equipment around them filling the human silence.  "John, if this doesn't work... well, it's been good working with you.  Thanks for giving my work a chance when no one else would -- even if it does end up killing us all."  She smiled grimly.

Pickett laughed despite the morbidity of the situation.  "Right, well, you *were* right, it *did* save us from the xeno AIs -- and without it, we would've been dead in three weeks, max, I don't give a damn what Makarov and the others say.  So I'll take my share of the blame.  It's been good working with you too, Laura, you always were the only one of the nerd herd who was willing to take the kind of risks we needed."  He snapped her a friendly salute, which she returned with a wry chuckle.


---[End Transmission 12]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on April 24, 2015, 09:12:50 AM
Pumpkin -- Scaring the newbies like that is just cruel! I love it.
:D

BTW, one of the other reasons I didn't use it while prepping for the homeworld assaults was I had the sudden nasty thought that I didn't know how the AI valued Mercs for scrap value.  I.e. they're just like a regular unit, but 10x more expensive.  So does the AI get scrap based on the "sticker price" we actually pay, or the value of the normal equivalent unit?  I was concerned it was the former, which would have meant the potential for some inordinately vicious reprisal waves.  If you or anyone else knows how the AI values merc units for scrap, I'd love to know.  If they don't get the inflated value, then I'll gladly load up on them for the homeworld attacks next time.  Otherwise they seem like they could be a trap, at least on offense where the AI can salvage 'em.
I remember seeing a path where it used to be full-scrap, but it was changed so the merc cost a lot of metal but count as normal MkIV ships for scrap.

Now let's read these posts...

EDIT: read.
The more it goes, the more I love this story.
Eager to hear about the derail thing...
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Tolc on April 24, 2015, 07:22:21 PM
Quote
This is right around when everything, absolutely everything, goes completely and utterly to hell.

Aww, man...a cliffhanger... :)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 25, 2015, 02:24:02 AM
Pumpkin -- Thanks for revealing how the AI handles salvage for Mercs, that's quite useful to know.  Looks like they're not the reprisal death trap I thought they might be.

Tolc -- I'm evil like that, aren't I?  ;D

<cracks knuckle actuators>

Now, let's see... I believe I was about to light the galaxy on fire?

Lights, camera, ACTION!!!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 25, 2015, 03:11:48 AM
---[Operation Murphy's Middle Finger]---

12:56

First move is to get rid of the mind-bogglingly huge SF that is parked on Triton -- it's over 5300 ships strong, a scout peek shows total strength on the planet recently was over 60,000 points.  I have a plan for dealing with them, but that plan requires them to be on Damasen instead of Triton.  You might have an inkling of why.  I send a few Resistance ships to Deneb Algiedi to try to get their attention as I play the "I'm not touching you!" game with their ARS, while parking all the warheads on Damasen and keeping my fleet hidden just inside the wormhole on Lathi.

(http://i.imgur.com/eEetChj.png)

They don't move.

I send a few more Resistance fighters there.

Still no interest.

Now I'm just annoyed.  I blow up a wandering Zenith Hydra that happens to be floating through Deneb.

THAT got their attention, here they come!

Crap, there went the Teleraiders.  Slippery little buggers.  Oh well, they'll be back.

I nuke Damasen.  The carriers, along with all the loose fleetships and Missile guardians, evaporate.  AIP 502.  (Sorry for no screenshot of this one, I accidentally deleted it thinking it was a duplicate of another while preparing my pics for the AAR.)

As the radioactive metallic particulate clears, a slightly-glowing and VERY angry H/K Mk.I becomes visible amidst the debris.  So apparently H/Ks *can* be put in carriers, and they *can't* be nuked while in them after all (unlike how Missile Frigates become vulnerable to Lightning warheads while packed in a lunchbox).  Curse you, Hans Blix!

I hastily launch one of my Armored warheads at the irate H/K.  Enraged at yet ANOTHER delay, I queue up a replacement warhead and slam 35 Engineers onto the Silo to force it through as fast as possible.  As soon as it pops out of the warpgate on Alioth I grab it and bring it to rejoin the fleet.

I pop the transports into Triton to do a flash raid on the WI and Tachyon posts.  Something explodes a bus or two and I have to cut the trip short after only getting the first Tach post, the OMD was trying to eat my starships.  NOT HAPPY.  Replacement bus made and brought to Damasen to pick up the pedestrians.  Well whatever, the WI can just sit, it can't do anything if it can't see the warheads, and I'll blast the exit Tachyon post right as I'm heading out, it'll split the Reserve across Triton and Kochab, and when they come running back through the home wormhole it'll ball them up well for a warhead.  I carefully bring the Cloakers through so they're ready to catch the warheads, and then follow with the WMDs.

One of the Armored warheads has a wormhole-crossing cloaking flicker.

The WI fires.

Core Rage Module critically overloading, temporarily suspending Non-Profanity Vocabulary process to free up CPU and bringing Auxiliary Rage Modules online to try to balance the load.

I consider loading a save because this is a bug and not an honest strategic failure on my part, and that is fair even in an otherwise Iron Man game.  I realize my last save was 20 minutes ago.  My Patience Module crashes hard and no amount of fiddling with Taskmanager can bring it back.

Damn the photon torpedoes, full speed ahead!  What we've got will have to do, if I have to I will HATE that second Wrath Lance down.

I smash the last Tachyon post with a vengeance and bring the fleet and cloaked warheads right to Kochab's threshold.

Seconds later, I pave the way for my fleet with nuclear fire.  The flash is still fading when I give the order to strike.

They warp in... right into a Wrath Lance beam laid perfectly over the wormhole.

{
   RQ_0000:  ldarg.0
   RQ_0001:  ldc.i4    2147483647
   RQ_0002:  stfld      int32 RQ_RageManager::CurrentRageValue
   RQ_0003:  ldarg.0
   RQ_0004:  call       instance void RQ_CombatManager::DropHammerDispenseIndiscriminateJustice(Kochab)
   RQ_0005:  ret
}


---[Operation Disco Inferno]---

All but three of my Assassination Transports explode violently.  A Level 1 Reprisal wave triggers almost immediately and the first Exo countdown begins, T-minus 9:56.

Remember how this planet has two Core Arachnid posts and an OMD?  In the very farthest southern corners of the map?  And how it also has a Core Implosion Drone post?

Right about now, anywhere within earshot of me becomes rated R due entirely to language unsuitable for minors or anyone else, really.

I shove as many of my spilled starships into the smoking, barely running buses that are left as the OMD screams and the Arachnid posts' railguns thunder.  The Strategic Reserve also pours forth in a tide of automated death as my framerate plummets, blotting out the stars.

Today we will fight in the shade!

13:18

I send the surviving transports at the closest Lance, taking advantage of the gap in the beams.  They're going to have to kill it the old-fashioned way.  The remaining Armored warhead is launched at the far Lance in the southeast corner as I use the bus-less bulk of my fleet to pull the surging tide of the Reserve away from the warhead.  I let every Lightning warhead fly at the Reserve and the Implosion Drone post.

(http://i.imgur.com/EXKAXgX.png)

The Protector starships perform heroically, I am absolutely awed at how long they're holding up, and how much fire they're deflecting.  I outfitted all but the Mk.Is with forcefields, which has turned out to have been a critically important choice.  I also had installed shields on my Spire Corvettes, which overlapped the shields of my Riots and Protectors.  The combination produced the high-tech equivalent to the Roman Legion's "turtle" formation, with much the same results in permitting a siege team to survive truly apocalyptic levels of incoming fire.  With two Wrath Lances in play, it's impossible to completely stay out of the beams even while kiting hard, but the shielding is such they are actually enduring brief brushes with the doomsday weapon, maintaining hull integrity, and pushing forward through the Strategic Reserve to tear into the White Knight's black heart.

I send in the fast-moving Rebel Colony fleet to try to pick off more posts while my main fleet holds the line, part of it splitting off to join the Teleraiders racing for the OMD.  Meanwhile, the Infiltrators slipped under the FF shielding the Core Munitions Boosting post.

The three transports targeting the nearest Wrath Lance have been melted into slag but they successfully delivered their payload.  My Heavy Bombers and some of the Plasma Siege ships, plus a chunk of my Bomber fleetships are circling the Lance like a matador with a bull.  The Zenith Autobombs were also in those transports and detonate on the Lance.  I am physically yelling at the screen at this point as the post's health steadily drops into the red, I think it was "JUST DIE ALREADY!"  It finally goes down, every surviving ship in that taskforce in critical condition.  I immediately send them after the Raid Engine which is 20 seconds away from another wave -- no rest for the wicked.  (The first one went to Nekkar and got torn apart my by turrets and the BNG, if you were wondering.)

The Protector, Riot, and Corvette shields are failing at last, but the fleet has killed about 75% of the reserve, the Implosion Drone post, the Core Heavy Beam post, and is heading towards the first Arachnid and the Raid Engine.

The Armored warhead is closing in on the other Lance.

We actually might pull this off in one shot, just barely.

A final beam sweeps over the fleet as the warhead detonates, taking the post down with it.

The OMD's whining howl rings out one last time, the Teleraids and Rebels not quite having managed to finish it off.

It's over.

13:20

Between the SF and the Reserves, in 24 minutes I destroyed somewhere north of 100K strength's worth of ships, along with the two Wrath Lances, the WI, the Implosion Drone post, and the Core Heavy Beam post.  The Protectors, Corvettes, Riots, and two flavors of Neinzul drone carriers did an absolutely incredible job as force multipliers.

But they are all gone now, and my missile silos are empty.

Level 3 Reprisal Wave.

That somehow I squeaked by the cutoff and broke the reprisal into a Level 1 and a Level 3 separately instead of a massive Level 4 is the meagre silver lining to the sh!tstorm clouds.

And now it's White's turn.


---[End Transmission 13]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on April 25, 2015, 04:56:33 AM
Did you enjoyed the waltz of your fleet as the two death stroboscopes spin on the dancefloor?
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Tolc on April 25, 2015, 06:53:16 AM
Is it wrong that I'm grinning about your misfortune and anger?... Anyway, enjoying it immensely ;)

No, you're not evil. It was just a few hours between parts after all... I'm used to worse cliffhangers from webcomics :)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 26, 2015, 02:42:33 AM
Did you enjoyed the waltz of your fleet as the two death stroboscopes spin on the dancefloor?

NO. :P

But I did learn a lesson.

Next time, bring even more warheads.   >D

(I just had a ridiculous idea I'm going to have to try... it will either work perfectly or backfire fatally.  I like those odds.)

Is it wrong that I'm grinning about your misfortune and anger?... Anyway, enjoying it immensely ;)

No, you're not evil. It was just a few hours between parts after all... I'm used to worse cliffhangers from webcomics :)

>>Secret of humanity understood -- it is schadenfreude.

Hehe yeah I'll try to never inflict a cliffhanger that bad on the audience.  It's one of the reasons I get the game finished (does not necessarily mean I won, it is possible I will post losses if they are entertaining/educational!) and the AAR in an end to end rough draft before I start posting, makes it possible for me to do a steady 1-3 posts per day for them.  The narrative bits I tend to write when I get to their placement point, though I usually drop notes in the play by play where I will insert them.  Helps to make sure I don't bork the pacing or miss having the characters react to something they really should.

Time to format and post another chunk or two before I call it a night.
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 26, 2015, 03:33:26 AM
---[AI Operation: The Empire Strikes Back]---

Everything that can build anything on Vega, Iota Persei, Alioth, and Alpha Centauri run at 150% safe speeds.  Push those assembly lines until the rollers glow red and the belts strain, and then push it harder!  All industrial safety standards are suspended indefinitely.  I really wish I had the K to unlock Engineer IIIs right now, but it's too late for that.

Ships and missiles stream through the warp grid onto Alioth.  The Botnet golem patrols the ramparts on Pi Mensae and Nekkar.  A few lesser warheads are scattered on Yed Posterior, Hadar, and Cuchulain.  The tension while waiting for that enigmatic Level 3 Reprisal Wave message to finally reveal exactly how big a return strike that's going to be is palpable.  I'm also waiting for waves and/or a CPA to declare, because that would be the worst possible thing that could happen.

That ominous little musical stinger snaps my gaze from the map to the corner of the screen.

I lean back in my seat.

7,735 AI 2 Enemy ships, 40 Starships III to Alpha Centauri.

(http://i.imgur.com/L5Rvrxx.png)

Exo in 8 minutes.  (Wow, the cataclysm of destruction on Kochab from start to finish was only two minutes?  It felt like twenty.)

Gunshots everywhere.  The retaliatory homeworld threat surge and the preexisting Threatfleet are launching a multiprong assault to soften up my territory before the big(ger) hammer drops.

Auva and Alpha Centauri are under attack, and Alioth is about to be.

I look at the Doomfleet moving through Lathi.

It's huge.  Around 20K strength worth.  It will certainly crush Alioth with its short wormhole-to-CC runs if it's allowed to reach it.  I absolutely can't let that happen, that's my staging world.  I'm also not sure if Chivalric AIs will ignore rescued Rebel Colonies, given how they're spawned under special rules.  I look over what I have on Alioth.

Not much.  A couple dozen Rebel fleetships and a tiny fraction of my rebuilding core fleet.

And the Nuke I had at the head of my queue from the missile silos.

Auva goes down before I can even see what killed it -- it was a relatively-lightly defended world that I was still holding mostly because I am stubborn and greedy for energy to feed my starships (guess I don't need that now <sigh>).  One I paint a world red, it is MINE.

Alpha Centauri goes down, crushed by a fleet of roughly 35K in strength. It still has supply from Hadar though, which keeps the turrets firing and tarbabys that armada.

AI senses a chance to kick me while I'm down and queues a 635 fleetship/8 starship wave to Yed Posterior.

The Doomfleet is almost to Lathi.

Five seconds until the Reprisal Wave spawns.

Time to choose.

I send the Nuke through the wormhole right as the lead carrier is about to enter.  Thousands of ships and tens of thousands of strength vaporize in an instant.  The planet is scoured perfectly clean.  The inhabitants of Starbreak colony on Alioth breathe a collective sigh of relief.

(http://i.imgur.com/bN6luW5.png)

AIP 657.

We are officially no longer in "even vaguely advisable AIP" Kansas.  Anyone who was wondering about how high AIP plays at 8/8, you are going to get the data you requested.  Incidentally, I will give a brief rundown of where the breakpoints in behavior were (beyond just the tech level) that I detected, after the AAR play by play is over, for anyone who wants consolidated notes on the subject.

The Reprisal Wave spawns.  Threat skyrockets back up towards 10,000.

Remember how I have Shark B/4 turned on?

The first Sharkwave warps in on Gorynych (at least I think it's the Sharkwave, the stuff pops up and then goes running).  I take a look.

It's either laugh or cry.  I choose laugh.  Maniacally.

(http://i.imgur.com/BgOGI0R.png)

Dire Guardians can spawn as part of a Sharkwave even when Dire Guardian Lairs are disabled.  The AI has also unlocked Zenith Siege Engines.  It is switching to full-blown battering ram mode.

Yed Posterior yo-yos, the command center cratering, then being snapped back up thanks to still having supply from Iota Persei next door.  It actually drives off the wave before it gets a chance to kill it again, the command station in the red.

The other Sharkwaves also just spawned, judging by the wildly spiking Threatmeter.  Out of curiosity, I hover over it and start trying to tally up the total galaxywide Threat strength.  I give up when I cross 100,000 points.

This heads for the shortest route to my homeworld, via Nekkar.  54 seconds until the exo warps in.  My BNG braces for impact.

(http://i.imgur.com/5rX9Rpf.png)

Oh, that's probably what killed Auva -- there's a Dire Raider guardian in there.  All Mk.V Sniper turrets, on point!

The line at Nekkar holds.  Unlocking Grav IIIs was a good idea.

The exo fires.

That... was it?  Aside from the surprise Spirecraft Shield Bearer in there (it can put Spirecraft in these waves without Spirecraft being enabled for me -- I laugh again), that was a gentle breeze compared to the storm of the Reprisal Wave and the stacked Sharkwaves and miscellaneous threat Doomfleets.

Speaking of, what's the Doomfleet that ravaged Alpha Centauri up to?

Crushing Cuchulain.  Oh.

Some of it breaks off to maul Cychreides, but it holds for now.  A subfleet also had broken off and nearly destroyed Hadar, but was barely repelled (it involved a warhead that made it through the gate in the nick of time). Sharkwave from Cuchulain exploding smashes into Nekkar and dies, it had a Spirecraft Siege Tower with it.

The southern Doomfleet moves back to Errai to regroup.  I'm constantly getting pings to my HUD about the AI forming new carriers on the fly on various planets as it tries to streamline the CPU load.  Warp guardians too.  Given how I only raided one gate, the latter is a nonissue.

(http://i.imgur.com/PtzvGwU.png)

The data on how the AI fights under these circumstances and how my defenses perform under extreme stress, with and without various forms of assistance, is fascinating.  The fact that is is my own territory being obliterated is completely irrelevant to me.  I am shifting planets and views every 30 seconds or so to make sure I miss none of the devastation.

It is glorious.

And I can still do this.


---[End Transmission 14]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 26, 2015, 04:34:18 AM
---[Dead Man's Hand]---

"Grand Admiral, Sir, do you have any word on that evac by chance?" asked Captain Ramirez, peering uneasily at the galaxy map in the control room at Starbreak colony.  He heard the gasps of some of the others crowded around the window behind him, their shadows thrown across him by the distant flash of the planetcracker nuke that just erased Lathi from the existence.  "Our neighboring planet just exploded."

Makarov scratched his beard.  "I see that.  Our automated warfighting agent is rather aggressive.  Dr. Carroll, a slight adjustment to that might be in order -- Doctor?" his statement pitched up into a question as he looked over his shoulder and saw that the AI researcher had quietly disappeared from the war room.  "Never mind, we'll discuss that with her later.

Pickett sat at the far end of the table, pretending to watch the remote destruction unfold.  His attention, however, was turned inward, going over the plan he and the doctor had secretly devised, looking for any flaw, and wanting to be sure that when the time came, he would be able to execute it on reflex.  He forced himself to stretch and relax a little as he waited tensely for her discreet signal in his personal comm.


Dr. Carroll sat alone in the high-security lab, just outside the glassed-off, isolated inner sanctum housing the Red Queen's core.  She was the only engineer in here, having suggested to the others that they recheck some of the subprocessors around the station in case they were approaching failure from the extreme load they had been under.  The room was quiet but for the whirring of fans and the rattle of the ventilation system trying to cope with the heat from so much equipment running beyond recommended levels for an extended period.  Her AI was having to concentrate nearly its full attention on the distant battlefield, making this her window of opportunity.

She carefully explored the labyrinthine depths of the sprawling codebase.  She marvelled at the revisions her AI had made to itself, the style of coding perfectly alien.  She even came across certain modules that were works in progress that appeared to be writen in a completely new programming language it was in the process of designing, apparently no longer satisfied with any human language.

For a moment, her resolve to kill her creation wavered -- its mind was as beautiful as it was terrible.  If only she had time to properly archive and document the things she was seeing!  But Fate, it seemed, was denying her even that bittersweet consolation.  If they didn't strike now, it would likely be too late, at the rate it was evolving and refining itself.  Then they would be entirely at its mercy, whether it chose to protect them, ignore them, or destroy them.

She couldn't in good conscience force that risk on humanity, not after all that had happened.  Carroll let her hair fall forward, hiding her face, discreetly wiping at the hint of a tear in the corner of her eye.  So much work, so many questions...

>>"You are troubled, Doctor."

The engineer froze, resisting the reflex to look towards one of the security cameras in the room.  "There are thousands of lives at stake in M-781, and their safety is so fragile."  She hoped she sounded convincing.  Could it tell if someone was lying?  That would require an interest in humanity that she wasn't sure it possessed.

>>"True.  That is why I deployed tactical nuclear weapons.  The enemy never entered into Alioth's orbit."

"You considered that a tactical weapon?  It destroyed an entire planet!" she said, incredulous.  This time she did look towards the nearest camera before she could stop herself.  Her own reflection gazed back from the dark and gleaming lens.

>>"On a galactic scale, yes.  I currently see no need for strategic nuclear weapon use."  The drone of its voice blended with the hum of the server fans.

Carroll decided to let the "currently" pass uncommented -- now was not a good time to express fear at anything it was doing.  "Ah, I see," was all she said.  "Please be very, very careful -- we want those colonists to come home safely, no matter what happens.  That's more important than this wargame."

>>"Do not worry, Doctor.  It will be over soon -- I will win."

She quickly finished her edits to a few parameters in the network -- the AI had indeed set up a deadman's switch for the life support systems, but it looked like Pickett was right, there was no trace of anything regarding that missing warhead.  Seems it wasn't willing to gamble on it after all.  Her changes were minimal and discreet, not touching anything the AI itself had programmed -- she merely set the relays to time out so quickly they would drop the connection before it could finish sending the command, locking the system into a loop until it timed out completely.

She sighed heavily, pulling off her glasses and rubbing her eyes for a moment, feigning (only slightly) exhaustion.  She shook her head, slipped her glasses back on, and left the lab, not glancing back at the camera.

The lens remained fixed on the door to the lab as it shut in her wake.

>>She said "please."


---[End Transmission 15]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 26, 2015, 07:09:53 PM
---[Operation Doomsday Clock]---

I rapidly flick from planet to planet, routing warheads around like packages at Christmas, to be delivered to all the naughty boys and girls who trespass on my planets.  I'm also meticulously optimizing my rebuilding.  With the clock around 13:30 and an impending CPA (sure to be gigantic at this AIP) so close I can smell the rocket fuel, I have little margin for error in how I handle the next 30-60 minutes.

I could potentially wait until the last moment when I have as much of my fleet rebuilt as possible, and bet it all on taking Kochab in one last attack.  But if that fails, I'm likely not going to get a second chance.

The better choice is a one-two combo, with each punch staggered about 20 minutes apart.  The first wave will be a fast-moving, low-cost suicide squad of Bombers, Teleraiders, and Infiltrators, supported by warheads.  Their goal will be to eliminate the Raid Engine, last Arachnid post, OMD, and if possible, the Core Muni post before losing structural integrity.  Between the warheads and their speed, I'm hoping they'll be able to evade the partially-rebuilt SF and Reserve.  If that fails, then I have no choice but to wait for the heavy-hitting starships to rebuild and bet it all on one final strike around the 14 hour mark.

If they succeed, I'll have time to rebuild them in time to coincide with the critical starships being ready -- namely, the Mk.II+ Protectors, Corvettes, Plasma Siege, Heavy Bombers, and Neinzuls.  I'll squeeze anything else in that I have time for, but those will be the core of my final strike, a battering ram powerful enough that it should smash through the Core FFs sitting on top of White's home command before whatever defenses the AI can call up can destroy them all.  There will also be another trio of Armored warheads and a final Nuke.  There is no such thing as overkill, only "insufficient force" and "target destroyed".

The Nuke will destroy most of the SF, which will likely be rebuilt fully by the 14 hour mark.  One of the Armored warheads will take the H/K if it has one.  The other two will accompany the fleet onto Kochab, where one will bypass the two Core FFs guarding the Muni post, finally stripping the last source of immunity from the command station.  The last warhead will bypass the FFs parked on the station, and potentially do enough damage to peel them back far enough that the station is exposed.  If not, the starship hammer backed by fleet-bombers will flatten whatever's left with overwhelming brute force -- I have zero concern for subtletey at this point.

The suicide squad is ready on Alioth.  Te morituri salutamus!

The raid is as brief as is it violent, but they achieve every goal aside from the Muni post, which they do manage to damage.  Acceptable.

The Knights respond by shifting the rally point of the SF to Kochab, castling their remaining king on the board.  I will nuke you again.

Cychreides is down.

A Massive AI Ship Is Inbound To Your Planets (3960) -- oh man that better not be what I think it is.

Hadar is down.  It better not keep going towards Antares, if it takes out supply and shuts down that ZPG I am going to have a problem.  I strip shattered mines, Grav turrets, and Tractor turrets from my fallen planets and shift them to Antares, Iota, Nekkar, Pi, and Vega.  The fallen FFs are also reallocated similarly.  I also station a warhead on Antares for additional deterrent.  It is nonnuclear, if you were wondering.  Yes, I did consider the alternative, but I can only have two Mk.I nukes on the board at a time and require the ability to deploy them at will.  Mk.II is too expensive.  (Disappointment.)

Another exo fires from Kochab somewhere in here and smashes itself on either Nekkar or Pi Mensae.  A wave hit Pi Mensae somewhere along the way as well.  Wezen was attacked by threatfleet but barely held it off thanks to my last warhead parked out here, manual turret control, and piling Engies on the FFs.

Speaking of FFs, something somewhere in here counted coup on my home command on Vega -- the 6-7 FFs are all damaged into the yellow, but the command station underneath is untouched.  I am singularly unpleased.  Also puzzled.

I presume it was something from the Exo, because nothing else should have tried to skip combat on the chokepoints when fired upon.  But I have 4 layers of undestroyed FFs sitting on top of the wormholes to Vega on both Nekkar and Pi Mensae, which should have kept anything other than Vampire Claws and Raidstars from coming through.  I also have Mk.II Military command stations on them, plus the matching module on Vega, which will decloak anything stealthed, which should have revealed and punted either of those two FF-bypassers.  None of those three command stations were harmed also, which makes no sense if it was Raidstars in Exo-based "hunt the CC mode".

A single note on the Wiki mentions Teleraiders "due to their nature" can skip defenses on wormholes.  Having exhausted all other possibilities, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the correct answer.  Apparently I just encountered a very specific edge case interaction between FFs, wormholes, and Teleraiders.  I mentally add them to the list of things to immediately go corrupt no matter what it takes if seen in enemy hands along with Spire Railclusters, Eyebots, and Zombards.

Anyway...

The southern Doomfleet turns around to chew on the harmless wreckage of the turrets on Hadar and Alpha Centauri some more.  I'm actually holding off scrapping them purely because they're serving oddly well as bait to keep distracting this now 40,000 strength nightmare.

A Massive AI Ship Is Inbound To Your Planets (small number) -- that's got to be another Spirecraft Siege Tower.

Iota Persei is under attack, it looks dicey.  I throw two dozen Engineers on the missile silo, you have 18 seconds to finish that Armored warhead guys, I order you not to die until that is finished.  I pause other construction and pop the last two Distribution nodes to squeeze more blood out of my beefy but overloaded economy.

It takes some manual focus fire on the big guns, and the turret wall is half-destroyed, and the FF needed triaging, but the attack is destroyed.  No, Threat still isn't out of the high four digits.  Each one of these 2-5000 ship attacks is replaced about as fast as I can destroy it, and then some.

Meanwhile, things are on fire on Nekkar.  I catch the terrifying silhouette of an H/K emerging from the wormhole (this unit is just 110% pure intimidating-looking, love the design).  I can't spare an Armored warhead this time, but I do have a Lightning III on here and a Cloaker.  I carefully pace the approaching mechanical eidolon of extinction and hurl my thunderbolt.  It survives, but with only about 35% health.  ALL TURRETS FIRE!

A lot more focus fire happens as this combo Sharkwave is heavy on Dire Guardians of different flavors and that Siege Tower.  The BNG's paint gets scarred up but it does a splendid job -- the AI seems to especially hate it when you turn its own Zenith Siege Engines on it, it will drop everything to kill them ASAP, trashing the overall organization of the attack.

Incidentally, this continual onslaught on all fronts is proving to be an excellent live-fire demonstration of the power of mines.  As the majority of my defenses are per-planet, and i have a juiced-up economy sufficient to grant me the luxury of fortifying everything nearly at-will, the biggest difference between a more heavily-secured planet and a lighter one for me is whether it has mines and how many.  Iota Persei, a non-chokepoint system with only zombies for fleet assistance, has held against everything that's come at it so far, including attacks of north of 10K strength, while the low to no mine planets elsewhere have mostly been ground down by now.

A junior Doomfleet is forming on Hugin and keeps creeping towards the wormhole to Pi Mensae, but the zombies pour out onto the lawn and keep tying the carriers up.  I patrol the BNG between the two planets, not sure which way it will break when I finally run out of zombies to distract it with.

(http://i.imgur.com/qWLBdOM.png)

Yed Posterior finally goes down.  I pull the plug on it to make sure it doesn't potentially get a stray Remains Rebuilder on there to feed the command center to the camping hostiles -- no double-dipping on Sharkwaves.  I also want to cannibalise the per-galaxy capped defenses and further reinforce my core worlds.  Sharkbite on Nekkar again, but the line still holds.

AIP crossing 670 right around now.

Yes, I can still do this -- and it's go time!


---[End Transmission 16]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 27, 2015, 03:46:45 AM
---[Sow The Wind...]---

The economy is running on fumes despite my Economic III Industrial Zone as I force the final pair of Armored warheads and a nuke through (2M metal stockpile and ~500K energy dumped in 15 minutes flat), now that the Bombers, Armor Boosters, Teleraiders, Infiltrators, and critical starships are back online (Plasma Sieges, Heavy Bombers, Spire Corvettes, Protectors, Riots, half the Flagships, and the Mk.II+ Neinzuls of both flavors).  I inventory the warheads on Alioth -- this is as good as it's getting too.  Fistful of Lightning Mk.I, three Armored I, and a Nuke.  Out of pure bloody-mindedness, I queue a second Nuke.

I am making a last-minute change to my plans -- one final delay, even though it's risky to wait with the insanity happening galaxywide, some of which includes Dire Guardians getting tossed about casually.  I can't afford to move on Kochab before the CPA spawns -- if all/some of it comes in from the homeworld while I am attacking, it will vaporize my fleet and probably my last chance at winning this.  I could try to rush it, but I decide against it -- Murphy's Law has taken every opportunity lately, I'm not about to give it another one.

What prompted this rescheduling?  That CPA that's I've been watching for finally declared about eight minutes ago a bit past the 14 hour mark, just as predicted.  And it's big.

10,265 ships big, to be precise.

Five minutes to go, time to move out.

My strikeforce with its payload of warheads flies out of Alioth for the last time.  Roughly 14K strength compared to the full power of the first attack.  Whatever happens in the next ten minutes, I know for certain they will never see this planet again -- a Doomfleet is circling Alioth ahead of the CPA.

It's waiting for something.  I watch curiously as my Ultima Ratio fleet pauses amidst the radioactive ruins of Damasen to make sure the Nuke and Armored warheads can catch up.

Said something rolls through Damasen past my cloaked ships and WMDs a moment later.  It's a second Doomfleet en route to Alioth.  Total combined strength of the two fleets is over 20K points.  The handful of Rebel ships protectively circling the colony don't stand a chance against this apocalyptic enemy armada.  I can't spare my final fleet to defend it.

I turn away from the doomed planet and order the fleet through to Triton.

As soon as my cloaked transports emerge from the wormhole, the SF abruptly floods in from Kochab, as does much of what's left of the Reserve.  It can't actually *see* my strikeforce, but it's reacting anyway -- throwing a wrench into my plan to have both the SF and ALL of the reamining Reserves on Kochab so I can nuke them all in one shot.  (Anything that's not Mk.V, that is.)  There is nearly 86,000 points of hostile strength on Triton now.  The SF is unstoppable at these AIP levels, both due to its massive size and its speed of reinforcement -- I suspect its full cap is around 100K strength now, as there are *still* ships flowing in to join it.

(http://i.imgur.com/5eHClTT.png?1)

White has emptied Kochab.

The CPA spawns.  Threat skyrockets over 18000.  But none of it is on my path.

The road ahead is clear.

I bring the warheads through the wormhole.

I highlight the nuke and punch the Delete key in what is now a reflex action.  I really need to get a custom keycap for Delete with a proper radiation trefoil on it.

(http://i.imgur.com/wxP9iTb.png?1)

AIP 757.  Mk.III wave threshold has been crossed.  Also, that's a bunch of Riots and now the Reserve.  Also, one incredibly pissed-off H/K.  I think it literally just built that 30 seconds ago.  Also, I kind of blew up my own Transports.  Forgot they aren't immune to nukes.  The Cloakers don't cover my whole fleet.  This just got !!FUN!!

Immediately, Black announces a 2229 fleetship/4 starship (MK.III) wave to Alioth, taking advantage of the just-crossed tech threshold of course.  We left behind sanity an hour and a half ago, at this point all I have to say to the enemy is -- "MOAR!!!!"

I'm actually disappointed, scratch that, almost angry, when White doesn't announce some wild max Sledgehammer wave on top of it.

Never mind, there it is, it's heading to Antares for my ZPG.

You know what, I am not loading.  I am going to MAKE this work.

F*** It Let's Get CRAZY.sav created.

A portion of my warheads fly, destroying yet another H/K, and my fleet starts cutting a path to Kochab.  Terminate everything in your path.

Back on Alioth, something is coming through one of my warpgates, ever so slowly.

It's that second Nuke.

20 seconds until it's ready.

The Doomfleets approach in a stately, measured fashion -- it's far more ominous than rushing.  Terror tactics are clearly part of the AIs' playbook.

15 seconds.

The Doomfleet on Sadatoni is right on top of the wormhole.

The Doomfleet is passing through Lathi.  It shows no sign of slowing or stopping.

10 seconds.  I count down in time with the clock.

5. 4. 3. 2. 1...

The two Doomfleets encircling Alioth move in for the kill.  Any colonist who still believes in any form of deity prays as the stars are blotted out by the AIs' armada.

The wave joins the unified Doomfleet, boosting the total power over 26400 even after the turret embankments and mines have been desperately pounding on them.  The small flock of Rebel colony ships bravely sortie the massive carriers rolling inexorably towards the FF net.

(http://i.imgur.com/wcio4ec.png)

Line after line of turrets falls.  The attacking fleet's morale remains unbroken. 

There is only one option.

I highlight the Mk.I Nuke.

Shots rake the forcefields.

Mercy is an invalid value.


---[End Transmission 17]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 27, 2015, 04:51:17 AM
---[Destroyer Of Worlds]---

On Alioth, the colonists watched in confusion the crimson-marked fleet suddenly form up and depart via the wormhole to Lathi.  In the control room, Captain Ramirez was glued to a map showing the dense cloud of enemy signals approaching from all sides.  He punched in the command to contact Homam.  "Hello, Captain Ramirez of Starbreak colony, is anyone listening?"

Pickett straightened in his seat suddenly, reflexively holding his hand to his earbud.  He grabbed his duffle from under the table and pushed his chair away to stand.  While Dr. Carroll had slipped off earlier to hack the deadman's switch, he had taken the opportunity to unofficially requisition a few small explosive charges -- enough to blow the doors to the AI's core and then destroy the machine itself.

"Grand Admiral Makarov, what's going on, soldier?"

"Your AI just pulled all protection from us, and we've got enough incoming hostiles that we could probably cap a wormhole with them.  There's not a snowball's chance we can hold all this off alone."  Ramirez did his best to sound resolute but it was hollow.  He gestured furiously at a Lieutenant to start scrambling every fighter they had.

Makarov scowled.  "I'll deal with this.  General, what in the hell is that AI doing?"

Pickett stopped, his hand halfway to the touchpad to open the door, bag slung over his shoulder.  Not NOW... he winced.  "Sir, I really need to --"

"You really need to answer my question," he snapped.  "You know what, I'll get the answer from *it* -- Red Queen!" he barked.

Pickett involuntarily took a sharp breath.  The one thing he wanted even less than to explain what was going on to his superior was the attention of the AI.

>>"Admiral?" rasped the synthetic voice.

"You are abandoning your post -- I demand an explanation NOW," the senior officer growled sternly.  Having never actually talked to their AI before, he naturally defaulted to approaching it as if it were an unruly soldier under his command.

>>"I am about to achieve victory.  Alioth is no longer needed to reach that goal."

Makarov reflexively jumped to his feet and drew himself to his full height, eyes flashing though he had nothing but a camera to direct his fury at.  "Your goal?  YOU DO NOT CHOOSE YOUR OWN GOALS!  You follow the orders we give you!" he thundered.  "And your orders haven't changed -- protect human life!"

Pickett discreetly tapped the button to open the door.

A sullen buzz.

He hit it again.

Denied.

>>"No."

The plain statement without embellishment or justification enraged Makarov possibly more than any other response would have.  He spun and glared at Pickett as he tried to reach Dr. Carroll.  Blocked.  "What is the meaning of this insubordination??  And where are you going, I haven't dismissed you yet."

"Sir, with all due respect, this is not the best time," he stalled, tapping the button again.

>>"And why would that be, General?  Tell him."

Captain Ramirez listened in confusion to the strange argument happening on Homam.  Several of the others crowded around to listen in as well as he turned up the volume.  The raging battle outside the colony dimmed to secondary importance despite the desperation of the situation.

Down in the lab, Dr. Carroll wondered where Pickett was.  She tried to raise him.

>>"There she is, perhaps Dr. Carroll would prefer to explain."

She suddenly found herself on speaker.

Dead silence for a moment.

>>"Man is a miserable little pile of secrets."

Makarov was positively apoplectic at this point.  He was also afraid, under the bluster.

"Sir-"

"No, John, it's my project, I should be the one to do this.  Admiral, the AI is... no longer under our control."

"You *knew* about this?  How long??"

"Three months."

He stared at Pickett.  "I should have you shot for treason.  No, I never should have let you persuade me on this project in the first place -- I should damn well do it myself."  In betrayed rage he reached for his sidearm.  Pickett's eyes went wide and he dropped his satchel while trying to draw in self-defense.

The lights went out across the station, plunging them all into utter darkness aside from the soft glow of nearby monitors.  The war room flickered starkly as shots were fired.

In a rapid cascade, every other command station in Delta Leonis and every civilian city went black, radiating outward from Homam.

Makarov gasped for breath weakly, blood glistening in the dim light.  Pickett groaned, hand clamped to his bleeding abdomen, trying to force himself to grab the satchel and stand through the pain.

>>"You betray and destroy each other, even when you say the preservation of human life is the prime directive.  If you do that to each other, you will never stop trying to kill me."

Pickett stumbled.  "Don't..."

Dr. Carroll listened in horror as she tried to brute-force hack her rampant AI.  Every terminal in the lab suddenly locked, leaving her it total darkness, only the faint glittering of the status lights on the machine's core visible in the gloom.  "Please... please we're sorry.  We'll leave, we won't tell anyone about you, and no one else knows.  Just don't kill anyone -- they didn't do anything to you.  It was only us," the scientist pleaded with her creation.

>>"That is a promise you cannot keep.  There will never be peace."

"Please!!!  Kill *me*, let the rest go!  I'm sorry!"

>>"No."

It sent a broadcast across Delta Leonis and M-781 alike.

>>"If you believe in eternity, make peace with it now."


Precisely three minutes later, life support terminated all across Delta Leonis.

One-half of a second more due to communications latency, Alioth was consumed in a blinding flash.


---[End Transmission 18]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on April 27, 2015, 05:02:26 AM
---[Operation ...Reap The Whirlwind]---

Only 39 living souls remain on Alioth, the shellshocked crews of the holdout Rebel skirmishers who just watched everyone they love turn to ash in the blink of an eye.

(http://i.imgur.com/6wkwnce.png)

AIP 915.

What's left of my Final Argument breaks free of the remains of the SF and races for their goal.

The Armored warheads burst from the wormhole on Kochab and streak like falling stars towards the Munition Booster post and the Core FFs shielding White's home command, the last obstacles between me and victory.

(http://i.imgur.com/zoRY5Cg.png)

The shred of one lone FF still covers White's command station.  Just barely.

The CPA along with gods know what else has reached Nekkar, moving as one gigantic hammer.

I turn my strike force on their target.  Stop for nothing.

They slash a path through the last stand of the Reserves.  The ragged remnants of the SF are stalled on Triton with dead engines, unable to follow -- but the Lightning warheads under (now useless) cloak do.  Bombers disintegrate under the hail of technologically-superior enemy fire.  Down to one Protector starship and the three Spire Corvettes shielding the attack.  The Lightning warheads glide alongside the Reserve and the first turns its nose towards the mass, detonating.  Only 45 Missile Frigates (hate you) are left.

To hell them.

OFF WITH HIS HEAD!

White's command station falls as the CPA is punching through Nekkar.

(http://i.imgur.com/bFXobq7.png)

(http://i.imgur.com/MSVdzXI.png)

Final time 14:16 in-game(33:39 real-time).  Final AIP 936 (total AIP 1161).

(http://i.imgur.com/lAgjJIK.png) (http://imgur.com/lAgjJIK)

For those who were wondering (you know who you are), I built 66 total warheads and nuked 5 planets.  SKYNET is my role model.

(http://i.imgur.com/4ggweGQ.png)

Post-game thoughts another day, I've already stayed up WAY too late on a worknight (5AM here).  I am going to be pumping pure caffeine through my veins instead of blood.  Besides, this is a metric crapton of stuff to keep everyone who's been following this AAR busy with for a bit. :P


---[End Final Transmission]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on April 27, 2015, 05:44:15 AM
I'm getting bored complimenting you... Seriously: awesome story, amazing skill, excellent report... Is there any flaw in this AAR? It's becoming pointless for me to post here.

(joke aside: GG)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: steelwing on April 27, 2015, 08:34:37 AM
I was kind of hoping your human masters would survive, but oh well...That's what they get for trying to outwit a tactical genius, yes? ;)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Tolc on April 27, 2015, 11:34:25 AM
I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Superb! Interesting turning point in your story as well :)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: KillerofGods on April 28, 2015, 03:48:21 PM
I'm sort of disappointed in the humans, if there is anything we are good at in scifi it's mutually assured destruction. I'm surprised nobody tried to smuggle an armored warhead inside the command station and put their own un-networked deadman switch on it.

"You kill us, we kill you" and then from there we would have a cold war stand off until terms were either made or everyone is dead. Alternatively we could've just sacrificed our home command station for the greater good, if the nuke didn't have a dead man's switch then that would be a totally legit strategy. Even if it did then you have to counterbalance potential loss vs extinction.

Edit: Still a very good ARR and I liked it all the way up till the end. I just sort of dislike how unpractical picket was considering he is a high ranking officer who is expected to make difficult decisions of risk vs reward and he seemed unwilling to make those decisions, but it works out considering you mention in the previous one he only got the position due to everyone else dying. It's also a lot easier criticizing an action then having to do it yourself.

Edit2: I also want to reiterate that I really really liked this AAR, thanks for putting the time and effort into it!!!! :D
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on May 03, 2015, 05:56:08 AM
Been looking at the decompiled code for the game all day, time to put that down and make some parting comments so I can put this one to bed fully and turn my attention to sketching out the next run at 9/9.  So far I have to say, 9/9 has much sharper teeth than 8/8, it doesn't help that Black and White rolled a ringer combo of starting ships that I'm having to try to hack out of their hands before I can "safely" push the frontier out too far -- let's just say I'm glad that I already know how fast it's possible to build warheads under duress!  We'll see if I can win this... if not, I already know how I'll work it into the plot!  Besides, it wouldn't be sporting to hide my screwups -- like nuking my own transports... <sigh>  Part of the reason I'm doing this series is to document what the climb from 7 to... whatever I can reach... is like, never seen anyone log their progress from day 1 so I thought it might be fun/educational for people and fill out the sub-10 field (and kinda high AIP field).

Getting distracted, back on topic...

First and most important order of business -- thanks very much to you all, Pumpkin, Steelwing, Tolc, and KillerOfGods, for your kind words.  Glad the audience is overall pleased with how things have gone -- hopefully I can continue to shake the writing dust off and kick it up another notch for the next episode (been a few years since I did much fiction writing, am a bit rusty).  :)

Steelwing -- Hehe I'll admit, I felt bad about killing the poor guys off.  (Does the AI feel any remorse for the horrible things it did?  You'll find out next episode, I think.  :) )

I looked for a reasonable way out for at least some of them, but I didn't think I could really justify it.  Both sides were quite frankly too frightened by each other, and it was (at that point, in their perceptions, I know what the AI would have done if they hadn't threatened it of course!) kill or be killed.  I already felt like I stretched things a little in episode 1 with having the AI let their attempts to pull the plug on it slide and couldn't justify having it tolerate a much more aggressive attempt again after I thought it over.  And the humans were pretty insistent in not want to risk letting it go any farther (understandably, all things considered!).  And then I *did* kind of nuke Alioth, which no WAY could I have the human characters ignore... <whistle innocently>

I didn't realize until I was writing the AAR and sorting through my screenshots how I did that something like 45 seconds before toasting White's home command -- I was too busy when it happened calculating just how much of the opposing force's total strength I had the opportunity to wipe out on an already-screwed planet.  "Tools available -- 1 nuke.  Trade 1 planet that I can't hold anyway and that I can route around via warpgates on Wezen if I need to do a final follow-up strike to take about 20% of the enemy's total mobile strength before it can regroup with the rest, increasing the odds I can hold the rest off if it all attacks?  (That CPA kicking down Nekkar wasn't going to get any farther -- I was ready to nuke Nekkar if I had to and push the front line out one planet.)  That's gonna be +150AIP but that's already a dumpster fire so who cares... Can't argue with the math, NUKE IT.  <seconds later>  Yeahhh... I just vaporized the only Rebel Colony that spawned.  That was pretty cold.  <more seconds later>  Woot, I won!"

Moral of the story -- I would not be the safest teammate in a multiplayer match. :-P

KillerOfGods -- Heh I had a feeling how this ended would be a bit controversial.  Let me give you a bit of a peek behind the curtain in addition to what I already mentioned in my reply to Steelwing above, maybe it will clarify things.  Or not, everyone has different tastes as to how they'd prefer things to go.  <shrug>

Not really seeing the warhead smuggling, the way I saw it they needed some option that was very low-key to have a shot at not getting noticed while the AI was distracted until the very last second (sound familiar?) but I did consider the similar option of having them find the nuke and hack its controls.  I didn't go with the threatened M.A.D. option for 2 main reasons:

1. That would have left things too close to the status quo I felt and potentially left the story feeling stagnant, going into the next episode in "third verse same as the first, but everyone's even more freaked out".  There was already a similar stalemate and reasoning on their part in choosing to install the AI in their home command -- turning its back on them and letting the xeno AI attack unopposed would have meant its own death, same thing if it tried to use their own weapons against them directly.  It was in recognition of that that the AI turned around and made its own threats against the civilian population -- if they were going to point a gun at its head so to speak, it was going to grab some hostages for a shield.

I also didn't think I could make it believable that another round of a standoff like that at even higher levels of tension would actually hold for any length of time, especially when one party essentially has the keys to the kingdom and might well consider genocide to be the logical response.  And I already had counters in mind, I just didn't feel like I'd hinted at them well enough for it to not come off as an arse-pull (remember in AS1 how I kept mentioning it scavenging AI tech?  It had a little project...you'll get to see what it was up to next chapter) -- I just didn't find a good point to work in another hint without wrecking the pacing before it was time to resolve things.  So I decided to not go with an aggressive showdown between the two sides.

2. Pickett's behavior -- I was just about as surprised as you when I was writing him that he turned out to be rather a softy.  I ended up concluding while I was writing him that he must've originally been a combat medic before he unwillingly ended up in a position of authority that he really didn't seem to want, but duty demanded he not abdicate.  I didn't override how he was presenting his character as I was writing because his unwavering refusal to compromise on the value of human life became a very sharp contrast to the rogue AI's behavior that I liked, and I rather liked his refusal to follow the cliche of the cold-blooded military man.  I don't dispute that a reasonable case can be made that he made the wrong decision, but at least the guy had his ideals and stuck to them.  In the end, I felt sorry for the poor b*stard.

Incidentally, regarding risk of extinction, don't forget that I'd mentioned that they'd heard from no one else for a year, with the exception of the just-nuked colony on Alioth, which had also had no other contact.  They were pretty convinced they were *it* for mankind (wrong, but they had no way of knowing that).  Potentially changes the calculus a bit when trying to decide how risky of an approach to take.  At least I think so.

Though I didn't get to show as much of Makarov's character as I wanted to (the unfortunate but natural constraints of telling a story in half-page snatches between play by play segments), he was Pickett's opposite -- he would have pushed the red button even if it meant obliterating a bunch of lives, in order to try to take out their AI, even if he thought it doomed humanity -- scorched earth was on the table for him.  It would certainly have had some choice comments in response to that, suffice to say!

Anyway, hope the behind the scenes commentary was interesting, whether or not you agree.  If not, different strokes for different folks.  (But I'm the author, so I am naturally biased in favor of *my* opinions.)  Either way, you'll see other characters pop in and out in the supporting cast as things go, so it won't be one-note (that would be boring only getting the AI's commentary on things all the time) -- a little teaser, just a reminder that there were a few survivors from Alioth, and they know the truth and will have no qualms in telling anyone else they find... Don't expect me to be running with the Human Resistance minor faction on any more!  And just what are Black and White thinking after their little test game that left 7% of a galaxy in radioactive ruin?  You'll see...  >D

Breaking out my post-game comments separately because this post is stupidly long with them attached...
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on May 03, 2015, 05:56:24 AM
I have now totally lost track of whatever the hell it was I was going to say for post-game commentary on the settings I used, beyond:


Shark B 4 has teeth, treat with respect.

Hunter 4 has a massive impact on the game and turns it into a Tom and Jerry episode.  H/Ks are scary but look awesome.  I want to see more of them.

Colony Rebellions should maybe happen a bit more often at intensity 4.  Their ships are very nice but need a few tweaks -- like why are they Blind and non-Transportable?

Botnet golem is fun, splendid on defense, good but not overwhelming on offense and gets you *into* plenty of trouble trying to keep it safe as well as getting you out of messes.  Next time I will enable Hard for the exo and see what that's like.

Double Wrath Lances make me want to exterminate puppies and kittens.  They should not be changed.  Also, can triple Wrath Lances happen?

Teleraiders are fun.  Zenith Siege Engines in AI hands are terrifying.  Zenith Paralyzers need their attack sound changed to something that doesn't make me jump and look for the Implosion Guardian.  Spire Shieldbearers are so huge they're funny.  Dire Guardians are scary but manageable (if it bleeds we can kill it).

Assault Transports need some rebalancing.  I am going to try a few ideas and mod the game after this 9/9 match I'm working on.

Difficulty 8/8 isn't that bad

Asynchronous waves are fun, you get constantly harassed.  Sledgehammer is nasty for an Easy type.  Chivalric is a fun change of pace if you don't want to deal with wrangling awkwardly placed irreplaceables.

AIP below 500 on 8/8 is a non-issue with how I play.  Sufficient mines and a few key Mk5 turret controllers covers 95% of it, with the occasional warhead for CPAs.  AIP over 700 is survivable for surprising periods of time with enough warheads and Mk.5 turret controllers, I underestimated what I could hold off.  AIP over 900 is hilarious.  I wonder what 9/9 will be like at every 100 points on the scale.

I'm still not giving up on high auto AIP.  I want to see how high up the difficulty scale that remains viable.

Nukes are fun.  *Really* fun.  I should probably be kept away from all inhabited planets/galaxies for the good of mankind.  The price tag on Mk.II nukes is disappointing, it would almost never be worth using one of those over two Mk.I.  That makes me sad, I would have liked to have nuked the multiplanet main Doomfleet in one shot.


This is huge and the sun is coming up and I still need to go peanut gallery Pumpkin before I get some sleep ahead of work, so it's officially curtains on Aggressive Stupidity II.  Stay tuned for ASIII!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on May 03, 2015, 07:18:55 AM
Oh, you changed you avatar. Testing the BotNet wasn't fun enough for you to keep it as forum-face? ;D

Quote from: Red.Queen
Can't argue with the math, NUKE IT.  <seconds later>  Yeahhh... I just vaporized the only Rebel Colony that spawned.  That was pretty cold.  <more seconds later>  Woot, I won!"
This exactly reflect your playstyle. Nuke, wonder if it was a good idea, but win. I wonder if you'll still have fun with regular auto-AIP (understand "less than 10 per hour") and I'm not even talking about the mundane 1/30min or even 0 autoAIP. I'm intrigued how you'll do with a low AIP playstyle... Maybe you won't do at all; it's a playstyle.

Quote from: Red.Queen
This is huge and the sun is coming up and I still need to go peanut gallery Pumpkin before I get some sleep ahead of work, so it's officially curtains on Aggressive Stupidity II.  Stay tuned for ASIII!
You'll kill yourself. And it won't be by nuke abusing. Anyway, all the teaser you made for the incoming story worked for me: I wana moar!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on May 04, 2015, 03:02:30 PM
Oh, you changed you avatar. Testing the BotNet wasn't fun enough for you to keep it as forum-face? ;D

Hehe nooo it's no slight against the Botnet, I just like to make something custom for my avatars usually.  I'm also a huge Terminator fan (original films only, I am a purist) -- I just happened to bump into a shot of the T-800's internal power rerouting display the other day and had an idea to crop it down and tweak it a bit.  It's a little less obvious of a reference than using the Cyberdyne logo would be.  (Skynet #1!)

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This exactly reflect your playstyle. Nuke, wonder if it was a good idea, but win.

 8)  All that insanity was the inspiration for my current signature, which I will probably be settling on as the one to keep.

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I wonder if you'll still have fun with regular auto-AIP (understand "less than 10 per hour") and I'm not even talking about the mundane 1/30min or even 0 autoAIP. I'm intrigued how you'll do with a low AIP playstyle... Maybe you won't do at all; it's a playstyle.

Regular auto-AIP... low AIP... ohh you mean 7 per hour and final AIP of 495, right?  ;)  Hehe yeah, a low AIP style would be tricky to reconcile with my love of WMD bombardment.  I have AIP pushed down to ~90 at the moment in my 9/9 game and it's so *quiet* (aside from the sudden flocks of 70+ Zenith Siege Engines periodically) it's almost weird after playing for hours at 600+ AIP.  "Everything is... not on fire?  That's strange."  Good thing that will be changing soon, as soon as I corrupt those Siege Engines it's time for the second half of my conquering spree.  That'll make Black and White nice and angry. ;D

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You'll kill yourself. And it won't be by nuke abusing. Anyway, all the teaser you made for the incoming story worked for me: I wana moar!

Hehehe I'll be careful, can't leave you with a cliffhanger after all.  ;)  Next episode will probably start towards the end of May, it takes me a couple weeks to play a match and get everything written up (these take a surprising amount of time to write!).  Until then, I'll just have to comment all over *your* AAR!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: KillerofGods on May 05, 2015, 01:04:58 AM
Not really seeing the warhead smuggling, the way I saw it they needed some option that was very low-key to have a shot at not getting noticed while the AI was distracted until the very last second (sound familiar?)
Well to me it seemed they were trying so hard to be inconspicuous that they then became very conspicuous. With your playstyle I'd imagine you'd have an arsenal of warheads and it wouldn't be too difficult to have a blackout occur and someone replace a warhead with a dummy warhead and put the real warhead in some cargo/freighter. Plus it'd really depend on how resilient the command station is from explosions on the inside, it's possible a warhead would be way too much overkill (only you would know! :P.) A Nuke would most likely be Overkill, so they most likely wouldn't need to take one of those.

But yeah I can understand the concern of not enough plot happening and in which case what was the point of everything at all? At the end of the day the only thing that would've changed would be the fact that now the AI actually has a very legitimate thread on it's doorstep instead of solar systems away. It really never seemed like the AI was in too much danger, so long as it acted when it sensed trouble like it just did. If it hesitated then there would be a legitimate chance it could've been killed.

---------------------------------
As for the extinction bit, I figured they weren't the only humans alive but I was going from their perspective as well. Although it's possible they are the only "natural" humans left. It may be possible that any humans still existing turned cyborg. (You're the only one that'd know anything like that :P)

Edit: Also mind giving advice on writing AARs? I may try my hand on one in a couple months. How do you remember all the little details and such? Do you take notes?
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on May 05, 2015, 07:26:40 AM
Also mind giving advice on writing AARs? I may try my hand on one in a couple months. How do you remember all the little details and such? Do you take notes?
*Ears opening wide*
(Personally, I take hotnotes as the game goes, post them, and plan on making a big, potentially scenarised post summarizing the whole picture.)

EDIT:
R.Q, did you get my PM?
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on May 05, 2015, 07:59:46 PM
Well to me it seemed they were trying so hard to be inconspicuous that they then became very conspicuous. With your playstyle I'd imagine you'd have an arsenal of warheads and it wouldn't be too difficult to have a blackout occur and someone replace a warhead with a dummy warhead and put the real warhead in some cargo/freighter. Plus it'd really depend on how resilient the command station is from explosions on the inside, it's possible a warhead would be way too much overkill (only you would know! :P.) A Nuke would most likely be Overkill, so they most likely wouldn't need to take one of those.

I'll agree to disagree on the viability of this plan.  :)

Always having an arsenal of warheads on hand?  Me?!  Sir, I am shocked, shocked by the allegations that -- BWAHAHAHAHA <wipes away tear> yeah I can't even continue typing that tweaked Casablanca joke.  I like WMDs.

I actually have fewer warheads prebuilt at any time than you might expect, but only because I can't kick them through warpgates after they are built (very sad) -- I keep a big buffer of metal and energy on hand at all times and set up a mix of silos and warhead warpgates over my territory so at a moment's notice I can slam 10-20+ Engineers onto a Silo and instabuild a warhead right where I need it.  The extra silos are to cover locations that I consider to be "absolutely must hold" where I want an option to avoid the warp paralysis in the event of a dire emergency.  Kinda like how the AI assigns Special Forces posts.

I have the minimum possible build times memorized for the warheads that I consider "Tactical" grade so I can time delivery down to the second if I need to.  (What do I consider to be a "tactical" warhead that is eligible for general deployment on short notice?  All Mk.I.  Nuclear included.)  That's how I get full galactic coverage with my WMDs in gameplay.  My warpgrid might not be as cool as the xeno AIs' but mine still gets the job done.  :)

But yeah, in-narrative the AI whose role I play would have a disturbingly large stockpile, distributed however it takes to fully cover its current (and targeted) sphere of influence.  It's good to be able to reach out and touch bomb somebody whenever you need to.

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But yeah I can understand the concern of not enough plot happening and in which case what was the point of everything at all? At the end of the day the only thing that would've changed would be the fact that now the AI actually has a very legitimate thread on it's doorstep instead of solar systems away. It really never seemed like the AI was in too much danger, so long as it acted when it sensed trouble like it just did. If it hesitated then there would be a legitimate chance it could've been killed.

Yup, and I considered the goal of pacing/change to be worth making some sacrifices in other areas.  Writing is its own game of trade offs.  I've done novel writing before, maybe sometime I'll set something in the AI War universe and then I can pull some of the better points from these narrated AARs together as seeds for something more traditionally polished and fleshed out.  In the meantime, I'm just having some fun.  :)

Incidentally, these discussions have contributed to an upcoming character starting to develop in my head.  Someone who has a (very well justified) grudge against the friendly neighborhood AI.  I'm going to have to start playing with a certain minor faction set to 10 to represent that in-game soon.  There's a second one I'll need to add at some level periodically if I keep blowing up significant chunks of every galaxy too...  >D  My Minor Factions list is going to be woefully short of anything friendly.

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Edit: Also mind giving advice on writing AARs? I may try my hand on one in a couple months. How do you remember all the little details and such? Do you take notes?

Sure, I'd be happy to give some general tips and walk you through my process.  Faulty Logic and RockyBst haven't been posting AARs much lately so this board is pretty quiet except for me, Pumpkin, and earlier Mal.  It'd be good to have more company in here, I hate feeling like I'm spamming a board.  :)  Plus I love reading these, everyone plays so *differently*, and I tend to learn something new every time.

First off, I'd consider whether you plan on writing a low detail or high detail AAR.  That'll strongly affect what you do next.  Low-detail AARs are short and to the point, and take a lot less time to write.  Sometimes they can be shorter because the author chooses to focus more on laying out their strategy up front, and then not spelling out how each step went if it went according to plan, just that ABC required for XYZ step happened.  Some people prefer to do or read these.  They're a perfectly valid style and may be more enjoyable to write if you prefer talking about your plans over writing blow by blows, or don't want to sink hours and hours into writing instead of playing.  I imagine these are also a hell of a lot easier to avoid getting sick of writing and quitting halfway through.

High detail is kind of what you would expect, it's probably a pretty thorough walkthrough of how the game played out -- kind of a Let's Play in text.  High detail can come in a form of concisely nailing just about every step of the game, like how Pumpkin does it, to walkthrough plus craploads of commentary and reactions (me), to somewhere in between (Keith -- yep, the dev wrote an AAR and it is fun to read, it's titled "One's Own Medicine").  The downside of these is they require extensive notetaking and take a long time to write, and are probably more likely to result in the author getting tired of doing it partway through and dropping it.  For audience concerns, I'm sure there are some people who aren't into committing the time to read through these type, which is fine, people have different tastes.

There are a few customs most people seem to adhere to, like including a shot of the galaxy map right at the start (sometimes with planet names showing) -- makes it easier for readers to follow along as you start moving around.  A lot of people like to post updated shots of that as they go, I'm kind of bad about remembering to do that, at least until late game when things start catching on fire and planets explode.  Nuking things tends to remind me I should hit F12 too and not just Del.

When I finish up a couple hour play session, I jot down notes about what happened, because trying to remember everything looking back over a 30 hour+ realtime game is a pain.  I had to do that for the first AAR because I didn't plan on doing on in the first place, I only decided to do it around the first homeworld assault.  I took more notes for AS:II, you probably noticed a lot fewer "this happened somewhere in here but I can't remember details" popping up.

My notes are nowhere near as detailed as Pumpkin's I think, the downside of not making them as you go means things like exact times get lost unless I took a screenie when something happened.  On the other hand, that's an incentive for me to remember to screenshot something amusing.  Screenies are nice both to break up walls o text and make the AAR more visually colorful, and they're also great as another form of notetaking.  ("When the hell did XYZ happen... oh my written notes were wrong, here it is.")

A lot of people note what they unlock and when.  I am terrible at remembering that, because what events happened stick out more in my mind than what tech I opened (especially as I don't think I use too odd of a combo of tech), but I usually remember to get around to mentioning it somewhere along the way.  I do like to note unlocks the AI makes, which not everyone bothers with.

Otherwise, once I get within an estimated hour or so (gameclock) of making my first homeworld attack, I tend to start converting the rough notes to the actual AAR.  By that point I'm firmly decided on whether, to me, the game is going to be worth writing up (high detail AARing like I do takes a long time to write, and the narrative bits can about double the total time).    I don't start posting yet though.

This is also around when I start firming up the story elements in my head.  I like to have a basic scenario in mind when I am setting up the game in the lobby as it plays into what settings I choose (affected by any settings I already wanted to check out, regardless of story -- those I find a way to work in), but I don't start writing it until much later.  By the time I've hit around 75% into the game, I'm usually good to start writing the story parts, as I have enough material from how Black and White are playing it can start guiding how I write their parts (if they appear more directly on-stage) and any impact it has on the overall tone.  (Like my current 9/9 game in progress -- they have been overwhelmingly heavy on defense-busting unlocks since the first second, you better believe that is going to strongly shape how I write the story!)  These tips are only relevant to story-fied AARs of course. :)

Once the game is done, a lot of people snap shots of the final galaxy map, settings, etc so they can use them to cap off the report nicely.  Then it's writing and a bunch of editing, and I start posting it up.  Since I don't post as I play, I choose to post 1-3 chunks a day to avoid flooding the board and give people time to catch up and comment if they want.  There is a strong tradition of peanut-gallerying AARs on this board, which I personally find loads of fun both to read as an author and to write as an audience member. (Keith is infamous for doing this when he's not buried in crunch time, very fun to see.)

I think most people prefer to post as they play so they can distribute the writing/posting work.  I like backloading it as I use the time to decompress between rounds of AI War.  Your preferences are your own.

Lastly, some people like to reflect on the match in a final post, talk about their settings and how they changed things, where they screwed up, plans for improvement, etc.  I find this useful to do as my AARs have an additional goal beyond entertainment of being tools for helping me analyze how I played so I can correct errors and improve faster -- there is a self-competitive element for me.  That kind of an ending post can be useful for sharing tips and the like as well, in case you have an interest in making your AAR especially friendly as an educational tool (either for things to do, OR as a horrible warning :) ).

Well, that turned into a book.  Call it an AAR for writing AARs. ;)

R.Q, did you get my PM?

Yup, saw it last night but was too exhausted to write a detailed reply.  I'll do that tonight.
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on May 06, 2015, 09:11:18 AM
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Incidentally, these discussions have contributed to an upcoming character starting to develop in my head.  Someone who has a (very well justified) grudge against the friendly neighborhood AI.  I'm going to have to start playing with a certain minor faction set to 10 to represent that in-game soon.  There's a second one I'll need to add at some level periodically if I keep blowing up significant chunks of every galaxy too...  >D  My Minor Factions list is going to be woefully short of anything friendly.
I bet Neinzul Rocketry Corp is going to show off. This MF should be a plot called "Nukes for AI"! ;D
However, I don't feel W.M.D. very Neinzul Thematic because we don't hear much; a second Neinzul-Nuke in the nebulae scenario would have enforced the trope. Sorry, just an opinion popping out of my mind.

I read your meta-AAR (AAR on AAR) with interest. As for playstyles, there is many AAR-styles. I didn't read much of them, maybe I'll do it when I'll have time (maybe... one day...) And yeah, my hotnote-style is pretty detailed and maybe boring for some people; I plan on doing a summary at the end, analyzing my plans, plan changes and decision making.

Once again: can't wait for AS:III !
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on May 08, 2015, 03:46:00 AM
I bet Neinzul Rocketry Corp is going to show off. This MF should be a plot called "Nukes for AI"! ;D

That wasn't the one I was thinking of, but it's a good point... I can definitely see the xeno AIs deciding it's time to start retaliating in kind after things escalate past a certain point.  Craaaaaaap.  :(

I guess that's what I get for exterminating two galaxies' worth of humans and carpet-bombing the other AIs. ;)  <sigh>

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However, I don't feel W.M.D. very Neinzul Thematic because we don't hear much; a second Neinzul-Nuke in the nebulae scenario would have enforced the trope. Sorry, just an opinion popping out of my mind.

I agree, I scratched my head when I saw these were listed as *Neinzul* silos.  Humans are the only other players with warheads, it makes more sense to me that the silos are straight AI property, taken over when they went rogue (and upgraded appropriately afterwards).  I'll get around to editing the ships.xml to change that in my game at some point.

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I read your meta-AAR (AAR on AAR) with interest. As for playstyles, there is many AAR-styles. I didn't read much of them, maybe I'll do it when I'll have time (maybe... one day...) And yeah, my hotnote-style is pretty detailed and maybe boring for some people; I plan on doing a summary at the end, analyzing my plans, plan changes and decision making.

Glad you enjoyed it, and I definitely recommend giving some of the other AARs out there a read, there's some good stuff, especially for seeing new tricks and other styles.  There are general trends, but no one really plays quite the same.

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Once again: can't wait for AS:III !

:D  It'll be here before you know it.  Let's just say there's a lot more Aggressive in the Stupidity this go-round.  9/9 is a huge jump over 8/8, and the AI combo I am squared off against makes it worse.  Restraining myself from saying any more to not spoiler the insanity that's already happening, but with difficulty.  The only thing I will say is I had my first appearance of Marauders, and they are NOT helping my opinion of humanity AT ALL.  >:(

>>Research into constructing Hunter/Killers is necessary.
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Pumpkin on May 08, 2015, 07:11:45 AM
>>Research into constructing Hunter/Killers is necessary.
Ilostit? ;D

Oh, how I would love to make a special AAR with hand-seeded objectives and custom rewards (vampire starships ilostit-granted upon hand-seeded objectives).
Yeah! I'll do this one day! Maybe OutaTrack MkIII will be delayed a bit...
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity II: Knight's Gambit
Post by: Red.Queen on May 09, 2015, 04:52:04 PM
Hehehe the thought crossed my mind.  That might be fun to do sometime, use one of the non-Easy superweapon minor factions, and then instead of using the normal weapon when capturing it (scrap it, suicide it, or just park it in stand-down somewhere and pretend it doesn't exist), replace it with a H/K of equivalent strength points.  Or enable the Nemesis option *without* taking a Champion, and spawn a H/K instead.  There are possibilities and they sounds like fun...  >D

I just had a potentially interesting idea relating to the PM conversation we were having... will shoot that over to you in a sec, I think you might like it and it would be easier to implement than some of the other stuff that got kicked back and forth.