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General Category => AI War Classic => Topic started by: Worblehat on December 07, 2018, 05:21:36 AM

Title: Surviving exo waves
Post by: Worblehat on December 07, 2018, 05:21:36 AM
I'm having trouble with the Alt Champ Nemesis exo waves. The first one was fine, coming just after building the Fallen Spire refugee settlement, so the four Spire frigates dealt with the nemesis exo nicely. The second, though, seems to be a game-ender. My best attempt still had 23 enemy champions active when my home command station blew. The entire fleet, plus the homeworld's full turret cap, plus grav turrets from the wormhole to the command station, plus a modest minefield, plus two spirecraft (mk2 translocator and mk2 siege tower) made a dent in the exo wave but didn't come close to beating it. It's hard to tell with such fast ships, but I think the full exo was a bit over 30 champions.

So how does one survive that? (And the next one, and the one after that...). Should I have been able to build the first FS city by the time the second nemesis exo arrives? I tried for that shard but it wasn't close to being successful - need more ships, which means more metal, which means lots more time. Or I could revert to a save before I bought the ZPG from the Trader, in which case I'd be fine on metal but couldn't afford the energy to build mk2 fleetships...

Not sure if there's a way to salvage that game, which is unfortunate given the time invested in it (started that particular game 15 months ago  :P).

Next game would probably be OK, lowering difficulty from 8 to 7.3, and dropping Alt Champ Nemesis from 5 to 3 (Alt Champ Progress stays at 5). But finding a valid starting position is incredibly tedious...  :(
Title: Re: Surviving exo waves
Post by: AnnoyingOrange on December 10, 2018, 05:08:31 AM
In my experience, Champ Nemesis waves are barely noticeable, but that's with fairly ridiculous chokepoints and on 7/7.
Without knowing the map you're playing on and your specific situation it's hard to give accurate advice, but in my opinion having defenses on your homeworld is too little and too late, heavily fortifying a chokepoint that is on the path is much safer and you can put more nice toys in it (such as a black hole machine and a spire city).
Also you have a champion that's much faster and stronger than average units, when you expect a nasty attack bring him in to help: I've had mine clear out almost a thousand ships inside carriers during a wave, and that's with "very low" stack size.
Title: Re: Surviving exo waves
Post by: Worblehat on December 10, 2018, 10:42:11 PM
Yeah, I eventually got past the exo wave by going back to a save from an hour earlier. Took an extra planet, which brought the Alt. Champion Progress to the first mod-fort. And also spent quite a bit of knowledge on various defenses (mk2 laser, needler, sniper, HBC turrets, and forcefields). Not sure the tech upgrades actually mattered, but since I read ahead further about how the FS campaign works at least they'll be useful going forward. And I picked up and completed an OMD from the friendly local trader.

Probably the biggest change was the obvious-in-hindsight realization that a forcefield over the wormhole leading to my homeworld would both delay the ships and break them up. With 31 champions stacked on top of each other, I had to do about 2.3 million damage before starting to kill any ships, so breaking their formation was a huge help. And even with all that five badly damaged champions still reached firing range of the home forcefields for a few seconds.

My own champion is a destroyer hull, but 1 destroyer is helpless against 31 frigate hull champions. With a mod fort, OMD, four Spire frigates, etc., they got the job done at least. This time.  :P

But I suspect the Spire City will take care of things going forward. I like that Black Hole Machine idea too, may as well take complete advantage of this chokepoint being on the trade route. :)

I'm definitely starting to see how different FS is from a regular AI War game. I had been worried about spending so much knowledge on static defenses, but with Spire shipyards coming along, I'm not sure how much a normal fleetball adds compared to those ridiculous photon lances! And there's always beachheading to use those turrets offensively (that helped a lot getting the city shard home).

Still, it's weird to me how wildly different exo waves are. FS exos are total nothingburgers (so far); even the wave triggered by starting to build the first city was substantially weaker than the Alt Champ Nemesis exo. It will probably take having 2-3 cities before the two types of exo become comparable, if I understand FS wave scaling correctly...
Title: Re: Surviving exo waves
Post by: Worblehat on December 12, 2018, 05:18:29 AM
Adding to this thread rather than starting yet another new thread...

I'm getting very frustrated by the surprise difficulty spikes in this game.  :( The latest issue is the chase for the second Fallen Spire city shard. I had figured it would be somewhat tougher than the first city shard chase, but compensated by my nice Spire fleet from the first city (said fleet had just torched a CPA+FS exo combination without the slightest difficulty). Instead I faced literally as many ships in the chase as I'd faced in the entire game previously - 30k. Which I know because I got the "killed 30k ships in one game" achievement early in the chase. That was ... not survivable, let's say. Spire ships are good, but not that good, especially when stuck escorting a speed 36 shard for a substantial distance.

Having seen many other threads just casually assume the acquisition of Spire cities at will, and some such threads advocating building the first one as hab + 5 reactors from the start (which I agree is a desirable end state for a chokepoint city, but how the heck you could ever get the second shard without shipyards at the first city is baffling ???), this was quite unexpected. Given the scale of opposition, I don't see how to move forward. Beachheading is just throwing a snowball at a supernova at this scale, as is teching up some fleetships. Lots of warheads would probably work, but is every city really supposed to cost 6ish AIP?! Five mk1 forts might help, though that's a lot of resources (including matter converters to power them).

Do people normally lay waste to the entire region around the system the shard spawns in, so that the chase happens entirely in friendly territory and all the AI spawns have to travel several systems just to reach the shard? I wasn't planning on expanding in this direction until City #4, if then... Plus I'm not sure how Fallen Spire calculations care about AIP - seems to say that these chase waves don't include AIP at all (which is also my understanding for FS exos), but on the other hand I have quadrupled my AIP (from 20 to 80) since the first city chase and the severity seems about 4x worse, so maybe the wiki is outdated here as in so many other places.

Is the Fallen Spire transceiver victory considered significantly more difficult than a regular victory? Aside from lingering worries about the scaling of Alt Champ Nemesis exo waves, I'm reasonably confident that I'd win by stopping at one Spire city and proceeding toward normal homeworld assaults from now on (though that's really not what I had planned for this game). It's super-weird that attempting to take the next step toward the alternate victory results in nearly instant death.  ???
Title: Re: Surviving exo waves
Post by: AnnoyingOrange on December 12, 2018, 06:29:17 AM
FS exos are total nothingburgers (so far)

Famous last words, rofl.

But how in the world did you get 30k ships to chase you at the second shard, with such a tiny AIP?
I'm seeing CPAs near that size at 900 AIP against 7/7 Chivalric, are you sure you didn't give the AI players a massive positive handicap or set the fallen spire intensity to something ridiculous like 9/10?
Title: Re: Surviving exo waves
Post by: Worblehat on December 13, 2018, 01:09:22 AM
I gather that the FS exos should become nontrivial if I could get a few more cities. :)

The game is at 8/8 Spireling and Experimentalist, no handicap, standard 4/10 Fallen Spire (plus Trader, Easy Spirecraft, Neinzul Roaming Enclaves 4, Alt Champ Progress 5, Alt Champ Nemesis 5, none of which should matter for this). The chase waves were almost entirely the color for AI 1, the Experimentalist AI, so maybe there's some weird non-obvious interaction there?  ???

The wiki says that the chase waves are supposed to be 50% stronger than the first city-shard chase, but only every 90 seconds instead of every 60 seconds. The first part of that may be plausible from what I saw, the second ... not sure if this is just a subjective perception bias, but it sure felt like they were spawning *way* faster.

The "how it really works" wiki page does say
Third, it builds a list of eligible spawning locations, which is basically the nearby warp gates but also other things that act as warp gates (AI Eyes, Special Forces Guard Posts, etc).
The last bit is irrelevant since I've killed all the guard posts in nearby systems, but there are quite a lot of them and I haven't gate raided any. So if *each* valid spawn point (not entirely sure what "nearby" means quantitatively) gets a full strength chase wave, that might explain what I'm seeing. I've been assuming that the wave strength is divided equally-ish among all the spawn points. Compared to the first city chase, the new start location is one jump deeper into enemy territory, so even more places to spawn waves from... But unless that "every 90 seconds" thing really is wrong too it's not enough to explain the huge increase in severity that I saw.  ???

Edit: I have an idea what the problem could be. The game bugged slightly early on, such that the refugee ship still exists even though it was supposed to be consumed when I built the refugee outpost. So it's conceivable that two sets of waves are being spawned, one for the second city shard and one for the refugee ship that shouldn't still exist but does. I'll check tomorrow to see if the game will let me scrap the ship, and if so whether attempting to recover the second city shard becomes more feasible...
Title: Re: Surviving exo waves
Post by: AnnoyingOrange on December 13, 2018, 03:54:05 AM
If you have easy spirecraft, you might be able to cheese large waves via SC Martyrs and SC Attritioners, maybe even throw in a few SC Shield Bearers to block passage into certain wormholes, 30k might still be too much unless you have a good multi-planet chokepoint but at least it's a start: keep in mind that spirecraft asteroids are a finite resource, and that Attritioners die if you look at them funny.
If all else fails, try conquering more planets/gate raiding near the shard path.
Title: Re: Surviving exo waves
Post by: Worblehat on December 17, 2018, 02:05:18 AM
Well, ugh, catch-22 detected...  ::)

I've proceeded with one Spire city, now ready to start a homeworld assault, popped the easiest two of the guard posts (and more importantly the OMD). Hello, AI Mothership! I did not know that you existed.  :o So much for that plan, or at least that iteration of that plan... Silly me thinking that my one-city Spire fleet could continue kicking ass even on a homeworld.  :P

Returning to previous discussions - I cannot scrap the bugged refugee ship, and chase waves for city shard #2 spawn at a rate of 1000 ships every 30 seconds. Which does imply that my doomed last stands at the chokepoint city and the homeworld lasted a lot longer than I thought. But so much for the wiki's claim that the spawn frequency is every 90 seconds (though possibly screwy things are going on here thanks to the refugee ship still existing). I do have a save game where I actually got the second shard - thanks to the cruiser I was barely able to keep the chase wave strength under control, but that was by far the toughest fight until visiting the homeworld... Doesn't seem worth the effort when one can instead just neuter the entire map without even trying.

Looks like the path to victory is building up full caps of armored warheads before starting the homeworld assault. Then doing it again for the other homeworld (why wouldn't each AI get a Mothership? Heck, why should I assume they only get one each?  :(). Should work, but at the cost of incredible tedium...  :-\
Title: Re: Surviving exo waves
Post by: AnnoyingOrange on December 18, 2018, 06:25:59 AM
If your game bugged out that seriously, restarting might be a good idea.

Heck, why should I assume they only get one each?

That would be an ill-fated assumption.