So apparently 99% of the times in AIWC, you shouldn't even try to build a Nuke.
It's true there are only a couple of instances where using a Mark I Nuke would make any sense. And on a difficulty level below 10/10 there's probably none.
Using a Mark I Nuke on 10/10 is effective, perhaps even "a good idea", if you're dealing with a well protected AI homeworld or a massive CPA (as Toranth said). By a massive CPA I mean at least 40000 ships. A CPA of equivalent strength but with fewer ships might not be worth nuking. That's because nuking gets rid of the Carriers which are the biggest threat. But even then using a nuke shouldn't be the first option. Nuking would be an option if you're short on time, metal or firepower and the AIP increase wont increase the strength of normal waves too much. If you manage to nuke 30000 ships of that 40000 you have probably bought your self at least an hour of in-game time. When CPAs get that big stopping and rebuilding everything can take so long it's almost time for another CPA. But that's only on 10/10 difficulty with 12 or more hours in-game time. And since each nuke increases AIP by 50 you can probably afford to nuke only one or two CPAs. On lower difficulty levels you never have to if you're doing things correctly. On the other hand on lower difficulty level you could probably afford to nuke a bit more willy nilly.
They aren't supposed to be used after all.
I think anything that is in the game is supposed to be used, or at least should be. And if it isn't and it's some kind of an inside joke, outsiders aren't going to get it and it's going to seem like flawed design.
I think there's absolutely no use for Mark III Nuke but there could be for a Mark II. Using a Mark II Nuke_might_be viable but only on 10/10 difficulty level against something like 10RaidEngine/ProbablyXDefensiveAIType // 10RaidEngine/ProbablyYDefensiveAIType when you're about to attack the last AI homeworld. Last AI homeworld since you could afford to use only one and you would have to win the game after that. The Mark II Nuke would be used to get rid of all the Raid Engines an AI core planet next to the AI homeworld and all AI planets around that core planet. Nuking also disabled Fortresses and I think it disabled Force Fields too so it would make things a lot more smooth. Before nuking you would trigger all the possible Raid Engine and detonate the nuke when all the Raid Engine waves have spawned. I'm quite sure that would work but I haven't actually done it in practice even against the Raid Engine AI type because I've managed to win without doing so. On the other hand I haven't played against 10RaidEngine/ProbablyXDefensiveAIType // 10RaidEngine/ProbablyYDefensiveAIType.
What I've noticed with Nukes is that they tend to be more useful for high level players who use them as part of a niche/specific strategy. A good example is extreme AIP hacking, the core strategy is to use defences/ships and other tricks to get a extreme amount of AIP to be shaved off via a hack, far more than what most people would get, and then when the AI waves have reached a extreme point, to deploy a Nuke to destroy 80% of the AI's waves as you also stop you're hack, thus turning those 50k+ AI ships into 5k ships. Even with the AIP increase with the nuke you're still getting 50 to 80 AIP removed.
Exactly. Although 200 hacking points isn't enough to make that more effective than stopping the hack a bit earlier and dealing with the threat without nuking, apparently. Although in my latest AAR when hacking response got pretty big even when I still had 100 hacking points left. So it would have gotten too bit to deal reasonably pretty soon. So doing what you described, nuke hacking, would probably be more effective than stopping the hack early if you had like 300 or 400 hacking points to spend and if needed a lot of AIP reduction. Then nuke hacking would probably be the best option.
Maybe if you are doing 1AIP/5min, and taking a super nasty MkIV subcommander world will take 4 hours(unlikely), nukes should probably not be used. Unless it is modified so that it really kills those "that I really want to kill".
In that situation a more surgical option of using a Mark III EMP and Assault Transports filled with Bombers and other ships will do the trick better.
give some additional AIP for stuff specifically destroyed by nukes. eg, that train of 100 Dire Guardians and H/K V that is going to streamroll your defense? Throw in a nuke and eat up 5AIP for each of the nasty stuff destroyed, in addition to the original 50AIP. Now you create a supply-less planet, and take +550AIP.
+50 is already so high you probably shouldn't use it more than twice. Third nukes could still be viable. Perhaps even fourth but after that you'd probably want to finish the game ASAP. Naturally talking from a 10/10 perspective but the game isn't supposed to be balanced around that difficulty level anyway.
And about stuff being immune to nuke. Yeah it's pity that so many things that would be worth nuking are immune to it. I don't think something like destroying dozens of AI Starships 5 Hunter/Killers (and thousands of fleet ships) with a nuke would make the game too easy or unbalanced. If you can't deal with those dozens of Starships and 5 Hunter/Killers and you nuke them the next time you're going to get dozens
and dozens of Starships and 10 Hunter/Killers so it's a downward spiral just like using Warheads. Nukes would be even a bigger downward spiral so going all willy nilly would be like digging your own grave. Imo nukes should at least damage all the things that are currently immune to it.