Author Topic: First game of Ancient Shadows!  (Read 2736 times)

Offline trillioneyes

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First game of Ancient Shadows!
« on: December 28, 2012, 02:06:50 AM »
Yes, english is my first language. If silliness bothers you, please skip the next three paragraphs.

All are greeted! I am no stranger to AI War, but neither have I finished a campaign. A bare one is the number of times I have so much as taken sight of the AI homeworlds. Large is the length of time during which I have not played. Yet, I return to this strange galaxy within which I shall awaken Ancient Shadows and face them with ordinal one (though for no strange dark heroes shall I search; the fleet beneath my fingers already strains my wits and I cannot master both).

In the present tense I speak, though I should not, for this altercation extends into the past, where it was begun at a distance of some days. To my citizens with bated but unseeing breath frozen in their pods, it seems only seven hours.

In earnest, now, begins the description of my deeds. No longer shall my utterance by myself rest obfuscated.

This campaign has been running, as I said, for about seven hours. This first post will just catch you up to what I've done so far.

One of my AIs had me hemmed in early on with superfortresses. With 3 worlds under my control, I had no choice but to capture a lightly-defended mark IV planet rather than be ground to dust by these things. Luckily, the mark IV had access to precious reptite, which I forged into spirecraft rams. 4 rams (2 reptite or 1 pysite) with cloaker-starship support are enough to bring down a superfortress, so the reptite has freed me from my fortified cage.

With many planets now open to me that were unassailable before, I start to expand first to resource-heavy worlds and then to the nearby ARS. (I got spire teleporting leeches, which I'm not thrilled about... they're amazing fleet ships but not great as generalists, and their raw firepower seems a bit too small to make a huge difference.) I'm starting to stretch thin, so I'll want another ARS as soon as I find one close.

My economy is about strong enough to start building these things I splurged on from the zenith trader. The superfortress should be up in an hour and a half, and by then I should be able to finish the rest of them (armor inhibitor, armor booster, radar jammer mark 2, ion cannon mark 5) one after the other.
Also, I'd like to point out the roaming enclaves hanging around my home command station. There are 14 of them as of this time. I don't know how fast they're multiplying, but I'm glad to have them.

Taking inventory of my spire asteroids, I have 26 reptite, 19 pysite, and 7 xampite. In general I'm being pretty careful with spirecraft because I believe on Medium they can't be repaired; I'm using the reptite pretty exclusively for superfort-cracking rams, but I'm not sure what to do with the rest of it so I'll mine them as I need them.

As you might have noticed from the screenshots above (which were taken just a few minutes ago, unfortunately), there's an exo and a wave coming that I must deal with approximately now. When that's done, I have some fairly ambitious plans.

Exhibit A: Michto, one hop away from my territory. Points of interest include one (1) dark spire vengeance generator, one (1) broken cursed golem, one (1) black hole generator, one (1) wormhole leading to a fortified planet under my control, and two (2) wormholes leading deeper into AI territory. Attacking it conventionally would be foolhardy, but I really want that golem, and this planet is the beginning of the shortest route to an armored golem, an advanced factory, and Spire Stealth Battleship and Microparasite corefabs. I'll have to scout some more, of course, but I think I'd like to clear the AI from this world and capture the golem.
I have a plan. I want to take Quitheruz anyway, as it has the SSB fabricator. Midem is worthless, so I won't be taking it, but...
I can send a precision strike team to take out the black hole generator and retreat. After dispatching any AI ships that follow the strike team back, I'll gather a force of riot starships protected by fleetships and spire shield bearers, a (separate) large number of engineers, and a(nother separate) fleet fit to capture Quitheruz. The riot starships, bristling with as many tractor beams as they can mount, will hasten to humble Midem, where they will barricade the wormhole back to Michto. Quitheruz, since I'll have supply after it's captured, will be blockaded with forcefields and tractor turrets. With the blockade complete, I'll destroy the Michto command station and attempt to lure its defenders back to Aswig to be dispatched. As soon as the area is clear, I'll capture Michto and repair the golem as soon as I can before escorting it back to the safety of Aswig. Finally, all trace of my occupation will be demolished before the worthless beachhead at Midem is abandoned and any surviving shield bearers spirited away to my homeworld for later use.
Such a simple plan, right? What could possibly go wrong?

In the longer term, I plan to search for this Dyson antagonist (see previous screenshots). I followed the stream of attacking Dyson gatlings back to its source on Rako, but there's no sign of the antagonist there, and I absolutely want allied gatlings watching over my planets that are too far from the neinzul enclaves for speedy reinforcement. As you can see, this planet also holds an armored golem that I'd like to quickly capture, and I suspect that the mark IV above and to the left of Rako might be a core world. So, once I have Quitheruz under my control, my next priority will be to use it as a base for some serious scouting.

Finally, here's Murdoch. As you can see, with an ARS, a core shield generator, and a data center, it's literally mandatory that I capture it at some point. Less visibly, the two worlds on the way there are rather worthless. Which means I'll probably need to load up a pair of transports with ships and engineers and send them on a suicide mission under some cloaking starships. I'm just lucky there's nothing that needs to get out alive.

This is where I stand now. The road ahead is rough, but it looks promising. More updates should come tomorrow.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 07:10:39 PM by trillioneyes »

Offline trillioneyes

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Re: First game of Ancient Shadows!
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2012, 07:10:05 PM »
Oh, and I should probably add the galaxy stats I guess.

Role: Normal (although I think I would kind of like to add a champion, if that's possible)
Galaxy size: 80
Planets held by me: 9
My ships: 1,447
Allied ships: 1,939 (so many enclaves)
Game version: 6.009
Auto Progress rate: 1 / 30 minutes
Minor factions:
  • Human Marauders 5
  • Human Resistance Fighters 7
  • Human Colony Rebellions 2
  • Zenith traders
  • Zenith Miners 3
  • Zenith Dyson Sphere 2
  • Zenith Devourer
  • Neinzul Rocketry Corps 3
  • Neinzul Preservation Wardens 5
  • Neinzul Roaming Enclaves 3
  • Broken Golems (hard) 3
  • Spirecraft (moderate)
  • Botnet Golem (moderate)
  • Dark Spire 4

AI 1: 7, Random Easier
  • Hybrid Hives 1
  • Advanced Hybrids 2
  • Beachheads
(I think this might be a non-wave AI, because I have yet to see any beachheads)

AI 2: 7, Random Easier
  • Hybrid Hives 2
  • Advanced Hybrids 3
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 08:25:07 PM by trillioneyes »

Offline trillioneyes

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Re: First game of Ancient Shadows!
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2012, 01:27:14 AM »
Today's session was a little hectic. The AI seems to have stepped up its attacks and I've been under nearly constant pressure. In the hour and a half or so I've been playing, I must have repelled 5 waves plus the exo and countless hybrid and roaming enclave forays. Every one of my worlds has fallen multiple times. I'm low on resources and I can't keep my extractors up, nor my fleet at cap. I'm hoping the storm dies down instead of increasing, or this is going to be the end.

Fireflies are the bane of my existence. Their death explosion goes straight through forcefields (although I think it might be a siege starship type thing, where it only hits some targets), so they've knocked out my command stations lots of times. Here, you see an ion cannon teetering on the brink of death. Those forcefields never fell.

Luckily they're not tractor-immune. I should probably set up tractor and gravity turrets on all my rim worlds, but I am not particularly skillful at arranging such things. Maybe if I cap out my turrets, my defenses will hold and my extractors will live long enough to pay for themselves...

I have 17 enclaves now. They are certainly fearsome to behold. The fleet they can muster altogether consists of more ships than I have in the galaxy. If only they'd spread out a little more, I might actually feel safe.

If you're wondering why I have 7 idle science machines in these screenshots, it's because I built five hackers for a knowledge raid. I forgot to take pictures of the raid itself, but here's the zombie counterattack, which was actually pretty extreme. They spread all over my planets, but I managed to hold them off without loss of too many irreplaceables.
Also, note that I have 2,460 knowledge. I used to have 4,000. This is as good a time as any to discuss my short-term tech path.
Since I'll be doing a lot of guerrilla base establishment, I unlocked mark III engineers for 3000. Their cloaking and teleportation will free up slots in my transport ship and in general provide a welcome increase to my engineers' survivability. With my remaining thousand knowledge, I unlocked miniforts, because my defenses have felt a bit lacking. With my strained economy... I'm starting to regret that decision, honestly. But at least miniforts aren't TOO expensive and are okay against bombers. And their unlimited galactic cap will hopefully be of some use later.
Next, I was planning to unlock the modular fortress to put on Quitheruz. I do NOT want to lose that spire battleship fabricator. Then, using Michto's knowledge, I would unlock regular mark I forts to protect the advanced factory and microparasite fabricator I would capture next.
With my economy as it is now... I don't think I'll be able to erect defenses on Quitheruz in a timely manner, let alone extract the golem and Michto's knowledge fast enough to be safe. I'll just have to hope things stabilize.
Anyway, back to the knowledge raid. Note that I have 2,460 knowledge, not 3,000. That's because the AI decided to tach the whole planet right before the end. Only one knowledge hacker escaped. And considering I don't know if I can afford a modular fortress... and the AI's expected response to further hacking has changed from "Very Low" to "Low"... and I have a lot of other technologies I want to unlock as soon as possible... I'm not sure I'm gonna finish.

The dyson gatlings weren't much of a problem earlier, but they've been becoming a bit of a pain. They come out in twos and threes and wear down my blob little by little. I've had to bring in fresh ships no less than three times. Then I realized... this job would be better done by spire starships, which have the health to withstand a laser blast and the alpha strike to take down a gatling before it can fire more than once or twice. Hopefully there will be enough time between trickles to get them repaired. And hopefully the income I've been losing to this grindstone will be enough to take the pressure off my economy.

Offline trillioneyes

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Re: First game of Ancient Shadows!
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2012, 04:05:27 AM »

I fortified myself a bit. Every planet has at least a couple tractors and a minifort. Most have two miniforts, some other turrets, and a garrison. Partially because of that, and partially just because the attacks have slowed down, my income is starting to go positive again. Yay!

I came close to losing a spire starship once or twice, so I optimized my dyson shield a bit more. First, since spire starships don't know how to aim, I added a few tractor turrets (just enough to keep the dysons in place for long enough for the beams to do their work). I supported those with basic and laser turrets, the two types of turrets with a bonus against heavy hulls. Finally, offscreen there is a minifort within range. (The other minifort is watching the other wormhole.) Repairs are still needed after every trickle, but it's much more robust now.

Now that I have money again, my ion cannon's health is steadily rising. The recession is officially over! \o/

I decided to finish up the knowledge raid anyway. I'm not sure it was worth it (maybe I should have raided somewhere else to get more than a few hundred knowledge?), but it's done now. I meant to do it under cover of a devourer golem, but it turned out the golem was just passing through. It was gone by the time my 15-second hacking timer ran down.

I have 20 enclaves now. I think there's no way the AI can crack my homeworld unless it baits these away first. (Of course, with all the attacks they're doing, the enclaves are away from home half the time anyway.)

In preparation for Operation Michto Quarantine, I've outfitted these riot starships with double tractor beams. Together, they're capable of holding nearly 600 ships at once. But they're squishy, which brings me to...

My contingent of shield bearers, which will also double as wormhole obstruction devices for starships and other tractor-immune adversaries. For the moment, I have four mark Is. I made them out of pysite, which... might have been a bad choice, but we'll see. Before I enact the Quarantine, I'll send scouts to assess Midem to make sure four shieldbearers will buy me enough time.

Now that the Midem Squad is mostly up and running, all that's left is to take out the Black Hole Machine, capture Quitheruz, and begin. A cap of raid starships should be sufficient...
oh. 18 million health? Okay then. I happen to have five spire starships, so I'll put them under a cloak star. But wait... that's like 10 million, right? Or more like 9 because one of them is mark I. So I'll just add a cap of bomber stars. That should take care of the change.
I've already done the tachyon raid for this wormhole, so it should be straightforward... wait, ugh, there's a wave coming. I'll just let these guys lie in wait while I see to the defense.
Wave finished. Now to finish up... oh.

I may or may not have mentioned that I turned on the experimental "neinzul enclaves can assist attacks" behavior. If you haven't heard of this, it means that your allied enclaves will gather to planets with non-negligible presences of yours on them and fight there. Which means, in practice, something like 10 or more ships?
1 cloaker + 5 spire + 4 bomber = 10 starships
There are now a thousand neinzul younglings on Michto. They are skirmishing with the AI within spitting distance of the vengeance generator.

Really though... this doesn't look too bad. A couple dark spire ships are appearing here and there, and they're scary, sure, but no scarier than marauders. They...

Yeah, that's... kind of a lot.

And they keep appearing... and appearing... and appearing. I don't think they're going to stop.

Well. My plans have changed.

"-20 AI Progress from destruction of data center."

How cute. But that's not the only thing these guys are going to destroy. If I let them get loose, I'm expecting my progress to skyrocket. So... I still want to quarantine Michto. It just needs to be the opposite way this time.

I will take Michto, hold it, and not let the Dark Spire alert the AI to my presence.

How was that for my famous last words?
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 08:33:08 PM by trillioneyes »

Offline Oralordos

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Re: First game of Ancient Shadows!
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2012, 12:02:20 PM »
Oh yeah, Dark Spire can get very scary very fast. It's almost a non-standard game over to get them moving and fortify your home so you can survive. At that point it almost becomes impossible to advance because the AI can't get through the dark spire and you can't get through the dark spire and the dark spire can't get through either of you.

P.S. I know you from the Achron forums a while back. We should really try to get another Neptune's Pride game going.

Offline trillioneyes

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Re: First game of Ancient Shadows!
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2012, 03:22:08 PM »
They get stronger? I suppose they'd have to for everyone to be so scared of them. At the moment it's basically my Dyson problem just got four times worse. Annoying, sure, but nothing game-changing. This doesn't change my plans, though, except in the degree to which I'll fortify the planet. I want to lock it down tight and not let them build up.

In the near future, I will have access to two golems and a pair of advanced fabricators. I will also shortly be unlocking modular and mark I fortresses. I'll put tachyon drones on the wormholes until the zenith trader brings me a counterspy. It grieves me sore to concentrate all my defenses here instead of at my advanced production facilities, but I will do what I must.

(And yes, another Neptune's Pride game would be awesome if anyone's up for it. Perhaps it's been long enough that some things have been forgotten! Though I wouldn't count on it...)

Offline trillioneyes

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Re: First game of Ancient Shadows!
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 03:18:08 AM »
Well, today's session was interesting. I'm pretty tired so I'll post tomorrow.

Offline trillioneyes

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Re: First game of Ancient Shadows!
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2012, 08:00:29 PM »
The first thing I noticed was that the Dark Spire hadn't woken after all. They weren't spawning anymore, anyway. It looks like there are a few set pieces on the way from dormancy to full activation.

With this in mind, I am going to return to my old plan. First things first: I need to reestablish stability after a bunch of heavy waves and some hybrid attacks. (I really need to hit the hybrids harder next game. They inevitably have an entourage of lots of mark IV and V ships and are really good at hitting just enough worlds to bring my energy negative.)

I'm gonna need a lot of ships to hold the lines while I get defenses up. I will not lose the stealth battleship fab. That means I'm capping out my mark I turrets. These defenses are untested, but it allows me to pull some 800 ships down to the Aswig staging area, leaving a paltry 400 or so to defend my 11 (I think?) other planets.

I pull my cursory garrison away from the next wave to see how my defenses do... and it's the first beachhead of the game. Like, before this happened I thought my random easier beachhead AI ended up being a no-wave type. The cursory garrison is recalled, speedily dispatches the beachheads, and together with remains rebuilders is able to repulse the wave.
Honestly, this is my fault for not looking at wave sizes. I should have noticed something weird about the half-size wave.

Anyway, I'm confident of my defenses for now, and when I get another beachhead wave I can just pull my whole defense fleet on top of it. At Aswig, I build four transport ships and load them up with 799 combat ships and a mobile builder. They take a bit of damage on the way, but I don't plan to use them for extraction anyway and they all arrive at Quitheruz with plenty of health for use as bunkers. I manage to subdue the planet with only 50% losses, leaving a still-formidable 400 ships for defense. I'm ready to claim the fabricator...

Right. Mobile builders require supply. *facepalm*
I try building a colony ship at Aswig and sending it through, but of course they're already waiting on the Michto end. I did the tachyon raid ages ago, so a cloaker starship will work, but my economy isn't in top shape. I want to replace the 400 ships I lost as soon as I can, and I need the resources for at least a couple forcefields and I'd really like to put down a modular fortress with forcefields and tractors.
Also, there's the little issue of...

I'm not sure how my 400 ships will fare against these 1000+, and they'll surely all rush in the moment I claim the planet. I don't want to throw away 400 ships engaging them, so... I'm thinking of pausing ship production and hitting them with a lightning warhead. Under a cloak star of course. That should thin them out enough that I can fight them and win.

...except while I'm deliberating, they attack anyway. Somehow -- maybe a combination of mark advantage and tractor beams? Do I even have a mark advantage? -- I manage to kill them all (or maybe some escaped, but I honestly don't care) with minimal casualties. With that cleared up, I build a colony ship and start production on a cloak star. I'm about ready to take the planet now. Mark I ships on Quitheruz (about 200 of my 400) are ordered into the transports; I don't really want to destroy that ion cannon.

Small raids against Quitheruz keep coming, but resistance fighters come to my aid soon enough. I still have the dysons to contend with, but with resistance fighter aid I'm not very worried. It turns out ion cannons do non-trivial engine damage, and a mark I is not gonna help me much anyway, and would you look at that one of my transport-bunkers was destroyed. I remove the ion cannon from Quitheruz and order the rest of the transports to disgorge. Luckily engine damage self-repairs now, so in a few minutes my ships will stop being helpless again.

Meanwhile, did anyone notice the CPA coming in those previous screenshots? I didn't somehow, but it hits. Combined with the recent wave and hybrid attacks, I lose half of my territory and go deep into energy debt. Since I'm tired of this, I scrap starships on Quitheruz until my forcefields come back online and then go about picking up the pieces. The hybrids have decided to linger in some force near my homeworld (only about 150 ships but my economy is in shambles again and my borders are all on watch). Nevertheless, I eventually regain control of enough territory that I'm willing to return to the fortification of Quitheruz.

I take the planet quickly and cap out my forcefields. (That's five mark I forcefields and one mark II. Remember that for later.) Notice that my crystal supply has bottomed out, and metal is on its way there. Space docks and starship constructors around the galaxy are toggled off while the Quitheruz garrison waits with bated breath.
But finally, the forcefields are finished, ship production resumes, and in time my economy is strong enough to start on the modular fortress.

Aaand it's about time for the exo that has been looming over me since halfway through last session. There are no ships at my homeworld, but the 26 neinzul enclaves there can muster almost twice my galactic strength anyway. Still, it couldn't hurt to watch --

-- oh.

There is an artillery golem.
An artillery golem fires 100 million x 1 every 8 seconds. This is more than enough damage to destroy any force field or command station in one hit.
I had two force fields on the planet, but one of them was guarding my unfinished superfortress. The other, of course, was the first thing the golem destroyed.
Luckily... remember those spirecraft shield bearers I built for the Midem quarantine portion of Operation Michto? I had relocated them to my homeworld for safekeeping before they were deployed to the staging area at Aswig. There were four shieldbearers.
So I held out for five shots, or 40 seconds, before the sixth shot at 48 seconds found my home command station.

Remember those six force fields at Quitheruz?
If I had guarded my homeworld as jealously as that fabricator, I would have survived for another minute, which would have easily been long enough for the neinzul fleet to destroy the artillery golem.

Lesson learned.

I still have some pictures of the revealed map that I might want to post later. For now, this was a fun game and I'm excited to do the next one -- perhaps with a champion and with an amusing altplanetnames.txt! :D
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 09:03:23 PM by trillioneyes »

Offline Oralordos

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Re: First game of Ancient Shadows!
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2012, 08:04:11 PM »
I've actually been wanting to play a game as a pure champion for a while now, I'm not much for large amounts of typing though so I wouldn't make an AAR. But if you are willing, I am willing to try a game with you for your next game.