Arcen Games

Games => AI War Classic => AI War Classic - After Action Reports => Topic started by: Astilious on January 14, 2017, 06:11:39 AM

Title: The Exodian Blade (Complete)
Post by: Astilious on January 14, 2017, 06:11:39 AM
Well, its been a while. I've started a new campaign with the goal of finally playing through the Exodian Blade plotline. I'm planning to put up an AAR here as a "short version" along side my youtube series at I have avoided any spoilers for the exodian blade, and have little idea what's going to happen here. No spoilers please!

So, settings:

AI: 9 Kite Flier / 9 Reservist
Minor Factions: Exodian blade.
Map: 80 planet simple.
Starting ship: Bombards.

And that's it. I like to try out new things with minimal interference from the other game options (just finished up a game with only champion and dyson).

To start off I unlock Mil III and assault transports, build up a basic defence and clear the two planets next to my HW. I then immediately hack one of them in search of the Exodian Blade. Immediately after I realise I already had one free hack. Fortunately these two hacks together leave me with only one planet that could have the Exodian Blade, 6 hops from my HW.

Scouting revealed an ARS only 2 hops from my HW, and on the way to the Exodian Blade. Easy first target. Adjacent to that is a Factory IV, and next to THAT is a Starship Constructor IV! Quite a nice little block.

I take the ARS planet, but forget to check my unlock first. Tractor platforms... oh well. I then spend some time clearing the planets next to the ARS world. That done I clear my way to the Exodian Blade. Before this is done the first CPA announces at 1069 ships. Meh. They hang out as threat, so I send my fleet back and clear them out.

The CPA dead I finally moved on to the Exodian Blade world. The gaurd posts fall without too much trouble, but sadly the planet has a barracks. 98 mark III ships. It has to go, so I pop it. Many of them are shield bearers and spire maws. My fleet dissapears faster than you could say "gulp". I refleet and poke at them from inside near dead 4-hop out assault transports. This does some damage, and I retreat before my fleet gets exposed to the maws again. Repeat once more. After this the AI fleet apparently decides its bored and leaves.

I take the planet I think must have the Exodian Blade and I'm relieved to see it actually show up! So, alien influences? I don't know, I think humanity is fully capable of destroying itself without help. The lore also warns me that I should think carefully before activating the Exodian Blade, but I reason that I should use some of my excess resources to start the repair process. Apparently that's enough though and an exo wave announces. Wait, an exo wave with a timer instead of a percentage? I'm also not sure if the AI is able to kill the unfinished Exodian Blade, so I move my command station next to it.

I move to clear the other planet next to the Exodian Blade, but the Reservist AI has finally built up its strategic reserve, so mark V ships pour out. I decide it's not worth it. I also notice a sentinal frigate fabricator to the north and a zenith generator to the south that I can take to power the Exodian Blade. Given it's already provoking exos I reason I should go ahead and activate it ASAP.

The first exo comes in, and bee lines the Exodian Blade. I guess the AI can kill it. Fortunately it's the weakest exo I've ever seen, and the turrets are enough to handle it (just...). The maws and shield bearers also turn up again and sit around as threat. I move my fleet back and clear them out, not much of a problem with full health transports - just slow.

I go ahead and clear out the sentinal frigate planet, then prepare to hack. Most of my AI war play was before hacking, so I don't really have a feel for how aggressively the AI responds at different points. Turns out the response to a fabricator hack at hacking progress 48 is quite vigorous and I get smashed, then the fleet spawned goes on to start wrecking my planets too. Well, I have to think about that. ~4:20, AIP 58.

And that's where I leave it for now. I'll be putting up more videos over the coming week, then update this AAR next weekend.
Title: Re: The Exodian Blade
Post by: Astilious on January 20, 2017, 11:17:10 PM
Unable to hack (without risking additional savescums) I decide to explore the galaxy farther. I move out and clear the path for my scouts in an attempt to map out everything in the upper right pocket of the galaxy. I find a datacenter, a co-processor, sniper V controller and the superterminal. The latter is a particularly nice find, though given my recent hacking experience I wont be worrying about it just yet. I also find another ARS, but somehow manage not to notice for a while...

Shortly afterwards everything in an exo manages to sync up and arrive at the same time on Xilarda (the exodian blade planet). This causes problems as they overwhelm the defences (plus my fleet) and I haven't brought any warheads over there yet. Savescum. I put all my mines on Xilarda and unlock gravity I turrets to build them too. This ups the defences to the point that they take out the exo without even having to send the fleet (actually I somehow missed them attacking at all, I just found they had destroyed the FF later on).

A CPA announces at 2168 ships. A bit less of a joke than the last one, though managable. I make sure I have warheads (mk I lighning) available on my HW and Xilarda. The CPA takes out my extra ex ARS planet, but that was just a buffer anyway. They seem weakened enough by that to be reluctant to attack my HW, so I grind them down as threat while Xilarda tanks another exo.

That done I rebuild and start working down Rodotch (ZPG). Unfortunately the planet next to it, Mikkugor, has a dire guardian lair. Additionally it's covered by an interplanetary munitions booster and has a troop accelerating command station right by the wormhole. Going through that way results in near instant death to all my transports. Looking at the layout I can get an easier shot at the dire gaurdian lair if I come at it from the other adjacent planet, Yakslov, which I FINALLY notice has an ARS.

I quickly alter my strategy and move to take the ARS (tachyon microfighters). At some point around here I also unlock bombers II and III. Annoyingly the special forces turn up just before I'm ready to pop the command station. They bring so many riot starships (50 or so) I can't fight them, so I run off and hide my transports in a corner to wait them out. They don't leave. Maybe they don't like that I have so many ships down there. I bring in some full health transport and retreat the fleet out of there, leaving only the near dead transports. They don't leave. I have the remaining transports suicide through the WH. They still don't leave. I attack another AI planet and this finally diverts them so that I can take Yakslov.

With Yakslov secure I can finally hit the dire guardian lair with full health transports. I pop the datacenter (which was also on Mikkugor) and then move on the lair. As soon as it pops I retreat (I'm not fighting dire gaurdians with 2X attack!), hoping that I don't get a gravity gaurdian. 2 spiders and a shield pop out instead, a pretty easy set by dire gaurdian standards. They bee line the newly fortified Yakslov, where I kill them without too much trouble.

Another nasty exo hits Xilarda. This one manages to snipe the energy collector with SOMETHING. I get my fleet in there and clear the wave fine. However before I get the energy collector back up some raptors snipe my home command station. Dammit. I told them building our most important station out of paper mache was a bad idea. Savescum. This time I make sure my fleet is on Xilarda to defend from the start and don't have any problems.

Finally I kill off the barracks on Rodotch (ZPG), and finish up ready to take the ZPG. The exodian blade has also nearly completed by this point, so next time I'll find out what happens when I turn it on...

AIP 73, 7 hours in.
Title: Re: The Exodian Blade
Post by: Astilious on January 29, 2017, 03:49:54 AM
I quickly take Rodotch for the ZPG, which is easy at this point. After setting up its defences I focus my economy on finishing the Exodian Blade while clearing a little straggling threat. Two waves, an exo and a 3,296 ship CPA sync up for the near future. Howev the Exodian Blade is completed! It tells me it needs to get to an Exo wormhole and that I should end this quickly or the AI will kill me. It also tells me it has a 4,000,000 damage beam. Holy overkill! That gun makes a 27 million health ship look like a glass cannon. Sadly it moves like it's sitting in the AOE of a gravity turret.

I sit the Exodian Blade on my HW and buckle in for the CPA. I pop a lightning warhead to save the ZPG on Rodotch. After that I notice two important points:
1. The Exodian Blade beam retargets. Exos melt like they're not even there.
2. The exos now come every 5 min, which I expect is going to make HW defence a HUGE problem.
I quickly move to upgrade my HW defences so I can use the Exodian Blade on the offensive. I reposition things, add in mines, and unlock HBC to mix in. This done I move the Exodian blade to hack the Sniper Turret V controller. The hack is no issue, and I notice at this point the exos are only after the Exodian Blade, NOT my HW. That simplifies things.

Given that there are alot of CSG left and I have only scouted a small part of the map I'm a little concerned I'm not going to be able to move fast enough for the Exodian Blade AI response ramp up. Fortunatly so far the ramp up hasn't been too bad, so I may be ok. I start moving the Exodian Blade "south", while trying to scout ahead of it. This is where I start to hit issues with the Exodian Blade being really strange about targeting gaurd posts. Sometimes it seems to sometimes shoot at them, not deal any damage and not want to shoot anything else. Other times it won't shoot at a gaurd post in range even though it is immune to radar dampening (much later I found out that click spamming helps). Also when I tell it to attack a target out of range it seems to just stop moving and do nothing. Unless I'm missing something and all of this somehow makes sense the Exodian Blade is far and away the most buggy thing I've ever dealt with in AI War.

Moving on. Southward I find no ARS (a quick look shows I have access to all CSG types except the remaining A-primaries) or AI HW within the first few planets. I take Burnwig for Flack V controller and (more importantly) CSG-C and more deep strike free reach into the galaxy. Scouting on I continue to find no ARS, though I nab a few DC. At last I locate a core world. I clear it out with the Exodian Blade (quick savescum due to it ignoring a couple exos worth of ships and mass driver in favour of a guard post it couldn't damage for no reason - I eventually get used to working around this, so this only forces a savescum once). In doing this I find out the AI sends exos VERY frequently when the Exodian Blade is on a core world.

For now I can't do anything with the AI HW, so I pull back to search for the remaining ARS. I'm getting so desperate to find them that I unlock scout II. That only gets me a little farther, so I unlock scout IIIs and move the Exodian Blade up to hack the Arkhe Factory IV. I'm concerned about the response as this will take me to negative hacking, however it proves no problem. Finally scouting happens. At long last I find an ARS, WAAAY out (10 hops) on Fued. It also has a Laser Turret V controller, which is a nice bonus. The Exodian Blade moves in, and makes short work of AI defenses. I grab Inivarex for range and CSG-E.

In the mean time a 4,395 ship CPA announces. Another lightning I on Rodotch is just barely neccesary. Most of the CPA moves on Boijiudon, which has nothing interesting so I let it take down as much as it can manage before being knocked out. It does strangely well as the AI seems reluctant to target the command station for some reason. Meanwhile I fortify Inivarex and the Exodian Blade starts blasting its way down to Fued. After finally finishing with Boijiudon the CPA vanishes for a while before showing up again on Burnwig. With their reduced numbers and some rebuilder/engineer spam Burnwig holds, leaving the remaining CPA ships hanging around as threat.

I take and fortify Fued, while sending the Exodian Blade back toward the HW (I miscounted the number of CSG-A I needed and thought I was done with that). It clears out some of the remaining CPA threat, then moves home. Turns out enough had been left over to take out Xilarda, but the Exodian Blade has moved on, so that doesn't really matter any more. I have the Exodian Blade make its way back to Fued, then take Durzon, a planet with an ARS a couple of hops farther out. With this done, I am at last ready to move on the AI HW.

There may be some delays before the next post.

AIP 129, 11:30.
Title: Re: The Exodian Blade
Post by: jordot42 on February 02, 2017, 11:41:23 PM
Interesting AAR.  From what I've watched so far, the assault transports are your main offense.  I don't think I would have used them for such a purpose; heck, I wouldn't have thought to use them as such.  As you said, perhaps they are overpowered.
Title: Re: The Exodian Blade
Post by: Astilious on February 04, 2017, 05:17:58 PM
As I mention, they aren't really weak to anything and their speed makes pulling them back before death very easy. The only real weakness is the attrition per wormhole outside supply.

Unfortunately it's likely to be another week or two before I post anything else. I wasn't happy with my commentary for the videos I recorded for last week, and now I'm busy with a friend's bachelor party/wedding this weekend and next. I don't generally have time to record on weekdays.
Title: Re: The Exodian Blade
Post by: Astilious on February 27, 2017, 02:37:45 AM
Well, there certainly were delays before the next post, sorry about that. Busy few weeks.

I played through part of this segment once, but I scrapped it as I wan't satisfied with my commentary. The important thing to know is that I killed off the last CSG and tried attacking the AI homeworld on Lusnesi. Ultimately I make slow progress, but I'm delayed by a CPA. This taught me two lessons:
    1. The AI response to the Exodian Blade on its homeworld is large enough to make the Exodian Blade useless for homeworld assaults.
    2. The homeworld assault exos get worse over time. I assumed they had kept coming due to my taking the adjacent core world, so plan to take Ockship instead, but it turns out they keep coming regardless so that was probably a mistake.
So, I start out by considering the worlds I should take for the CSG-B and CSG-D. I decide on Edplu for the advanced starship constructor and Mbyotune for the superterminal. Actually Ockship also had a CSG-D, I primarily just wanted to drop my AIP as my other attempt indicated things would continue for a while yet. I send my fleet to rebuild on Xilarda and take Edplu (which had been cleared earlier) and the Exodian Blade to clear out Mbyotune. The Exodian Blade finishes first, so I have it take out the defences I left alive on Tolun due to reservist strategic reserve while it waits. Finally both tasks are complete, and I move everything to Mbyotune for the superterminal hack.

I throw down a Mk III military command station for the hack and begin. I reason that nothing I could build really matters much next to the Exodian Blade, so I just plan to hack as much as it can manage. The AI response does not dissapoint, with a huge fleet of ships spawning almost immediately! I have my assault transports dart around taking out sentinal frigates while the Exodian Blade handles the bulk of the AI forces. Ultimately I went from 176 to 91 AIP before calling it, which is a pretty solid reduction.

This done I begin to think about what I need to take on the AI HW. I spend some knowledge on unlocking all marks of flagship to act as a power multiplier for the rest of my fleet, throw up some more matter converters and begin construction of a full starship fleet for the first time this game. In the mean time I send the Exodian Blade over to Fued to clear out the planets near it, which I'd only left in tact as I thought there was a decent chance the game was nearing its end.

A CPA announces with 5,494 ships. Shouldn't be too much trouble. I clear out planets while I wait for it to arrive. Apparenly the AI is feeling helpful, as most of the CPA attacks Fued, allowing the Exodian Blade to meander over in time to wreck everything. Another large group hits two hops out on Durzon. Despite the Exodian Blade's proximity it's too slow to save it, so Durzon goes down. Still, the Exodian Blade is in time to clean up, and with another minor assault on Fued the CPA is defeated. I quickly rebuild Durzon and grab the scrap to help build my new starships.

This done I finish clearing out leftover planets. At last though, my starships are complete and the assault on the Lusnesi AI HW can begin. I quickly take Ockship and fortify it as my new ship construction planet. Now the AI defences. First up is the wrath lance, which, for those who don't know, is a guard post that spins on the spot shooting giant death lasers in four directions. The spin rate is fast enough that dodging around them isn't particularly practical, so it has to go immediately. I pack all my cheaper fleet ships into assualt transports and dive onto the AI HW. The wrath lance goes down, and so does my fleet (hence bringing the cheaper stuff). Still, it's not that cheap. Reprisal warning level 3.

5.2k fighters announce on Durzon. Lucky the Exodian Blade is still on Fued. Durzon goes down again, the Exodian Blade kills everything again, I rebuild again. I unlock all spire starships and mk II engineers (20 mk I engineers can't keep up with my salvage sometimes). I have an incedent where the AI manages to snipe Ockship command station. I'm very worried about how long I have before AI HW assualt exos become unmanagable, so I savescum to save time and send the Exodian Blade over to handle any farther assualts of that kind (ok, it was also partly lazyness... rebuilding is fiddly). Rebuilding the fleet takes a long time (the Exodian Blade actually travels the ~10 hops to Ockship before it's done) but eventually I'm ready to attack again.

This time my priority target is the mass driver - the starships are staying back in a separate transport till that's taken out. It's dead before the strategic reserve even spawns. I bring in the starships but keep everything in transports while I'm dealing with soft targets. A neinzul melee, raid engine and riot control guard post go down before the strategic reserve can get close. One transport pops and I lose the ships inside to the strategic reserve. That AI speed boost on AI HW is harsh. I move over to a distant neinzul spawner and pop it along with a barracks (accidentely). I manage to take out a SF guard post too, but the remaining posts are under FF. I swing in a long loop to get around the strategic reserve, then run off back home. Overall I took few enough casualties that I didn't even get a reprisal wave.

I ponder how to deal with the FF, and mistakenly assume a nuke will take care of them. I have the Exodian Blade clear some threat from the AI HW, then build the nuke and escort it over (quickly popping the AI warhead intercepter). I'm quite dissapointed when I find the AI FFs still on. At least the fortress is off, so I decide not to savescum over it. I send in the fleet and unload by a zenith fortress guard post hiding under a core FF. The fleet has enough firepower to take it out just as the strategic reserve arrives. I jump back in the transports and retreat with acceptable losses. Rebuild and repeat for the FF protecting the other neinzul spawner guard post.

I don't realise how large the reprisal was, and it takes out Mbyotune. Lazy strikes again, and I savescum since I had a save from only a couple of minutes before. I manage to get a warhead over in time. Next I move to finishing off the AI HW - at this point I only need to deal with the actual home command. To do this I need to deal with the strategic reserve. I literally run rings around it with my transports until I get them all clustered on the other side of the system, then dive back down to the AI home command. It still reaches me before I punch through the two core FF, but I'm able to take the home command with heavy losses. The strategic reserve dissapears in time to save the reminants of my fleet.

Finally the way is clear for the Exodian Blade. Not sure what will happen I send it in immediately on 66% health. Turns out the AI still gets an exo wave every 10 seconds even with the home command dead, so it dies before reaching the exo wormhole. Savescum, repair the Exodian Blade and rebuild a little of my fleet. This time the combined force moves in and the Exodian Blade reaches the wormhole. BOOOOOOOM. I'm suddenly back on the galaxy map with the "You Win" message. Apparently that was all I had to do to get the Exodian Blade to blow up both AI HW planets and "probably" the entire galaxy they had their manufacturing in!

Well, that was fun, though nowhere near as interesting as the spire or champions. The buggyness of the Exodian Blade itself was also very annoying. Still, I'm happy. I plan to move on to a 10/10 game with nomad planets next. You can expect that over the next week.
Title: Re: The Exodian Blade (Complete)
Post by: Timerlane on February 27, 2017, 11:15:54 AM
I didn't mention it because you didn't want spoilers, but you actually didn't have to deal with the CSGs. Just bring the Blade to the Exo-wormhole.

I was curious to find out if you'd be able to pull it off, anyway; I remember reading some of the horror stories of what the escalating AI response used to be like, as time passed, back when the difficulty was still being tuned.
Title: Re: The Exodian Blade (Complete)
Post by: Astilious on February 27, 2017, 03:58:10 PM
Huh, that's interesting. I'm not sure how I would've gotten the Exodian Blade to that exo wormhole without clearing the AI HW defences though. I suppose the AI response would have been milder if I'd gotten to the AI HW sooner. Aside from in the AI HW assault though the Exodian Blade exos were never a problem at all, even in the failed branch not in the AAR. What gave me trouble was the exos you get in response to attacking the AI HW, which iirc are not related to the Exodian Blade.