AI War - All About Tweaking The Difficulty Level
Deciding which systems to conquer, and, perhaps even more importantly, which not to, can often be a daunting task in AI War: Fleet Command. The ability to make sound choices in this area can ultimately mean the difference between victory and defeat. The following is a guide to the factors which should be taken into consideration when planning your expansion across the map.
The value of a system should always be weighed against the corresponding AI Progress increase that its conquer would result in, in addition to that system's defensive requirements. When playing with an AI Progress Timer, the amount of time required to conquer a system must also be taken into account.
Having access to the information necessary to make these decisions relies upon effective scouting operations.
The economic value of a system is measured by the number of Metal and Crystal deposits it contains. It is also important to consider the system's ratio of Metal to Crystal based on current and projected resource requirements. While the effects of having a Metal/Crystal deficit can be mitigated by the construction of Manufactories, this is an undesirable situation to be in.
The position of a system within the wormhole network is the most complex factor affecting its value. Systems will often require careful analysis to determine their true worth.
Is the system an effective scouting base?
Possessing information on AI systems is key to making future decisions regarding expansion. If a system would serve as an effective base from which to launch scouting missions deeper into AI territory, and thus learn more about the map, this increases the value of the system in itself.
Does the system form a buffer between Player and AI controlled territory?
If capturing a system would reduce the Player's number of fronts, this is valuable as it allows defensive forces to be concentrated in a smaller area.
Additionally, the value of long linear routes of systems (Those with no, or at least few, branches) can be considered in aggregate due to the minimal defensive force that their topology requires. Put simply, they only need to be defended at the ends.
Is the system en route to a valuable target(s)?
Examples of such valuable targets include Advanced Research Stations, Advanced Factories, and the AI's Homeworld.
Bear in mind that it is not always necessary to conquer every system en route to capture an Advanced Research Station. The Player can make a Deep Raid into enemy territory, capture the Advanced Research Station to gain the new ship type, and then abandon the system. This is a viable tactic if the total value of the systems en route to the Advanced Research Station is outweighed by their defensive requirements and the potential AI Progress level increase.
Does the system hold logistical benefits in linking Player controlled systems together?
Particularly in the case of multiplayer games, forming links between Player controlled space generally reduces the overall number of fronts and allows friendly fleets to support each other.
Even in single player, additional links between your systems can allow your own fleets to move around your territory more quickly, allowing for more efficient defense.
How difficult will the system be to defend?
It is important to consider how many wormhole links to AI controlled worlds the system in question has. More wormholes corresponds to increased defense requirements. The Player can only construct a limited number of turrets and any ships committed to a garrison are ships that can no longer participate in assaults.
It may also be necessary to destroy the AI's Warp Gates in adjacent systems to ensure that the location remains secure, thus increasing the AI progress level. However, destroying the adjacent Warp Gates can be avoided by investing in the Warp Jammer command station. The Warp Jammer is so expensive to use that it often counteracts whatever economic boost you would get from the captured planet, so it should generally only be used when your reason for capturing a planet is something other than economic gain.
Does this system put a large number of systems into supply?
Since knowledge can now only be gathered from systems with supply (systems adjacent to planets you have a command post in), it may be worth taking an otherwise sub-par system(or even one not worth the resources it would take to hold in the long term), if it has a large number of neighbors that you don't already have supply in.
There are a number of special structures influencing the value of a system.
Advanced Research Stations
The presence of an Advanced Research Station makes capturing a system immensely desirable, as access to the additional ship type will increase the number of ships players are able to deploy.
It is of great benefit to control an Advanced Factory as they are the only means of constructing Tech IV ships. While capturing at least one Advanced Factory is advisable, a second is generally of minor utility due to the relatively low number of Tech IV ships the player is able to deploy at any given time.
The exception to this is in multiplayer, where having one Advanced Factory per player is usually important. In games with even three players, just finding enough of these structures for all players can be a challenge (there are always enough, but often they are quite spread out), so then it can be important to Give the factories between players every so often, so that everyone can built larger fleets. That comes with its own challenges, of course.
Ion Cannons pose a major threat to any fleet, Human or AI.
While the presence of an Ion Cannon will make initially conquering the system more difficult, capturing one provides a significant boost to defensive strength - even more so the higher the level of the Ion Cannon. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, an Ion Cannon can actually increase the value of the system because it reduces the required garrison strength.