So, I was victorious with the Exodian Blade, but I think this time I need to ramp things up. I'm going to give difficulty 10 another shot. I haven't won difficulty 10 before, so no promises of eventual victory on this one. And you can expect mistakes. Many, many mistakes. Anyway, on to the settings:
AI 1: Diff 10 Everything
AI 2: Diff 10 The Core
Zenith Dyson Sphere 4/10
Broken Golems Hard 4/10
Botnet Golem Hard 4/10
Spirecraft Hard 4/10
Nomad Planets 4/10
Reveal Random AI Types (there weren't any, but this is on...).
None. I think the above will be quite sufficient.
Ship: Protector Starship
I start off pretty normally, including my usual laziness about unlocking the first few techs. I build up my fleet and throw down turrets. There are two adjacent planets, one of which leads to a dead end (Kagea). Kagea has a CSG-E, the other, Oorha, has a Co-processor. One of the two planets off Oorha, Akiyunmurder, has a raid engine. A raid engine. Over the only way off my HW. Great.
The AI starts things off with 31 mk II-III bombards, followed closely by 65 mk 5 bombers. I'm immediately concerned about the bombards, but balling up my fleet and then charging deals with them nicely. The bombers come in with a spire starship, making them much more deadly. After they reach my main defence I realise I'd forgotten to build additional FFs. Obviously I lose moments later.
Savescum to an autosave just before the bombards. This time I send everything I have to meet the bombards immediately. This is a mistake - there aren't enough of them so they all just die. After a while I remember to put down some new FFs, but its already too late. Two losses to my own stupidity. Third try I actually put the FFs down early, try to ball up my fleet, and even eventually remember to unlock mk II and III mil command stations. The AI also sends frigates rather than bombers in the second wave. With my defences set up properly the attack isn't a problem. Uh... I slept poorly last night?
That embarasing start behind me I proceed to look for more methods of losing the game. I clear Kagea quickly, then move on to the raid engine. I have assualt transports dump my entire fleet right on top of it. Problem solved. However I also discover that the co-processor's supply block causes my transports to attrition every time they enter Oorha. Ouch. Largely due to this the transports don't have the HP to get the fleet out, and they die to pursuing EMP Guardians.
Also the special forces. Everything special forces is horrible. They have tackle drones. They have blade spawners. They have gravity drains. They will kill you. These guys are constantly delaying me as I try to avoid them. They also make sure I'm punished every time I lose a transport with ships in it. They are so nasty that I'd say Special Forces Captain/Everything would be one of the most brutal combinations the game has on offer. I guess that's something to try if I'm feeling masochistic one day.
The EMP gaurdians are now my no. 1 priority. Fortunately they don't go for me immediately, instead sitting with a threat ball. I rebuild and attack, popping in and out with my tranports, drawing the EMPs out from under the shield drones and eventually killing them. I then start working on the main threat ball. Before I finish they join an AI wave on attack, letting me kill them quickly.
Scouting out farther the only object of interest (aside from spirecraft asteroids) is an ARS 2 hops out from Oorha. Unfortunately between me and it is Jodemic, a mk IV planet with radar II, translocation command station, sentry eye and spire shields over the wormholes. I set to work, killing the non spire shield guard posts first. In doing so I attract 3 more EMP guardians. Is it just me, or are those way more common on diff 10? I also lose a ton of ships and get a reprisal wave of 1,261 neinzul railpods, which will come in 20s after 164 mk V bombers. And my fleet is pretty much dead. This is going to be interesting.
I take out the bombers OK, but they come in with a mk IV zenith starship, which stubbornly won't die. This isn't helped when the railpods come through and snipe all my turrents shockingly quickly. At last the EMPs come through, and with the zenith starship still by my command station it's game over. Savescum and give it another go, this time prioritising getting some scout starship out to block those railpods. I use my tattered fleet to delay the EMPs and threat while my turrets take out the zenith starship, neinzul and bombers. The EMP still come through, and my command station is exposed. The mill command foldouts translocate the threat fleet away, but the EMPs are immune and batter the command station. It looks like they have time to kill it, but some engineers come online early (not sure why...) and are able to build a new FF to save it. A narrow victory.
I move back to Jodemic and start work on the spire shields. First I try blocking the translocator shots with a scout starship and anti shell protector starships, but apparently they don't count as either. I then try to take one of the shields from out of range, but that proves agonisingly slow. After a number of attacks the spire shield is only down to 50%. And that one isn't even in range of the translocator command! The other one, which blocks the way to the ARS, is well in range. I realise my efforts are futile, so decide to come back when I have a bit more power.
Akiyunmurder, in the other system, should be much easier. I just hope I find something useful behind it... Overall this has been a rocky start, both due to my own mistakes and what is honestly a pretty bad starting position. Hopefully I'll make more progress next week.