AI War - The Zenith Remnant

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What exactly is added via The Zenith Remnant expansion?

A: The short explanation is that the expansion is focused on adding more grand strategic variety to the game, and more variety in general. Or, put another way, making each campaign more varied and having more unique things to find and do throughout the galaxy. In all, there are 122 new ships. But that's more than a little vague. Here, specifically, is what the expansion adds:

New Bonus Ship Classes

The base game of AI War includes 27 "bonus" ship classes beyond the base fighter, bomber, frigate, scout quartet that is in every game. The Zenith Remnant adds another 14 classes, all of which are extremely different from those in the base game. Here is a list of them, along with what they add to the game in general:

  • Zenith Bombardment Ships (I-IV and Core variants)
    • These ships are wicked expensive, but are also extremely long range, moreso than anything in the base game on both counts. They pack with a big punch, too. They have only moderate hull health, so if you bring them into too close of combat they won't fare well, but from a distance these guys are absolutely unmatched.
  • Zenith AutoBombs (I-IV and Core variants)
    • These units are unique in that they are suicidal, and die on impact, dealing area damage. In many ways, they are like miniature, AI-Progress-free lightning warheads.
  • Grenade Launchers (I-IV and Core variants)
    • These are something of a fan favorite, as they can be deadly against masses of ships. They launch mid-power grenades over a medium distance, and the grenades explode and deal area damage to enemies. These are less potent per-impact compared to AutoBombs, but they also don't have to be rebuilt constantly. Combined with a good set of complementary ships, these can really wreak some havoc.
  • Zenith Electric Bombers (I-IV and Core variants)
    • These huge bombers are almost like starships, they have so much health and attack power. Squads of these can do the job of a vastly larger fleet of normal bombers. These things can be an absolute terror in the hands of the AI, too.
  • Sentinel Frigates (I-IV and Core variants)
    • These are the most powerful and expensive snipers you could imagine. These aren't hugely useful on offense in most cases, but having these spread around your planets on defense can provide a huge amount of security. These also include an onboard advanced warp sensor, which gives you all the benefits of knowing exactly which wormholes AI ships will be coming through without actually having to spend the knowledge on the standalone advanced warp sensor.
  • Zenith Mirrors (I-IV and Core variants)
    • These are one of the more bizarre and fearsome ships in the expansion, depending on what sort of ship mix you and the AI has. These tiny cubes have incredible health, and a fairly middling main attack, but they have the special ability of not only amplifying incoming firepower against themselves, but also reflecting it back against the ships that are firing on them.
      • This has two effects: first, it makes most ships prefer not to shoot the mirrors if there is any other choice, since it can be self-suicide, and this thus gives the mirrors a free hand to use their main weapons to do a lot of damage earlier in large battles; and second, at the end of a battle it means that many types of ships will find themselves exploding in the face of their own firepower from the mirrors (which are also damaged by shots they reflect).
      • Mirrors are not all-powerful, though -- certain types of shots, such as missiles, they are unable to reflect. So they are very weak against missile-heavy opposing ship mixes, while they absolutely cleave through more laser/shell/energy weapon ship mixes.
  • Zenith Paralyzers (I-IV and Core variants)
    • On the surface, these ships actually seem pretty weak. Their main attack is pretty fast, but also pretty pathetic, and their Strong Vs stats show them as strong against almost no other ships. But, these have a unique ability: their shots inflict short-term paralysis on the ships they attack. The more they concentrate fire on a ship, the longer it will be paralyzed. That makes these ships immensely helpful in a support role, when combined with other ships in various mixes. The effect of that paralysis attack (which works on anything that could be paralyzed by an EMP) is not to be underestimated.
  • Armor Boosters (I-IV and Core variants)
    • Strong fighter in its own right, it also gives a 2x armor bonus to nearby ships on your team. These are basically the opposite of Munitions Boosters from the base game: rather than increasing your outgoing firepower, they greatly increase your ships' armor, thus making them harder for enemy ships to kill.
  • Zenith Beam Frigates (I-IV and Core variants)
    • Beam weapons were introduced new in this expansion, and were a fan-favorite request. These frigates fire high-range beam weapons that damage all enemy ships in a line, which is a completely new kind of area damage for the game. The auto-targeting even aims at ships in the back of a group, to maximize the number of ships being skewered by the beams.
  • Zenith Chameleons (I-IV and Core variants)
    • These ships have a completely unique form of cloaking: they make themselves look like ordinary space junk whenever they are not moving. They can't move or fire while camouflaged, but neither can they be hit. And when they stop moving and firing, the camouflage instantly. Tachyon beams are useless against these since they aren't using traditional cloaking, and their main weapon systems are that of pretty solid bomber technology, about on-par with regular bombers or slightly better. Just having double the number of bombers normally at your disposal is valuable enough, but having this sort of stealth ability is even better.
  • Zenith Polarizers (I-IV and Core variants)
    • Normally, armor on ships helps decrease damage. The polarizers turn this idea on its head and instead do more damage based on the target's armor.
  • Zenith Viral Shredders (I-IV and Core variants)
    • Melee ship that generates build points as it attacks, spawning a free copy of itself when enough are accumulated. This replication costs a portion of the replicator's health, and will not happen below a certain percent of health. Also, when there are more shredders of a specific level than the natural ship cap on a single planet, the build points required to replicate will increase exponentially. These are something of a Von Neumann machine, which has been a quite popular idea and mechanic with more hardcore sci fi fans.
  • Impulse Reaction Emitters (I-IV and Core variants)
    • Attacks with ammo that reacts with enemy energy sources, doing much higher damage to ships with higher energy use. Most fleet ships have relatively low energy usage, which means that the impulse reaction emitters aren't all that handy in a big battle of small stuff. But what tends to have high energy costs are the more valuable support ships: starships, engineers, heavy defenses of various sorts, constructors and resource ships, transports, and so on. The impulse reaction emitters excel at killing those sorts of specialized targets.
  • Acid Sprayers (I-IV and Core variants)
    • Most of the Zenith ships have organic components, as the Zenith aliens' technology is based around that for the most part. These acid sprayers were developed as a specific counter to that sort of technology. Their short-ranged acid attacks are excellent at dissolving organic components, making them a natural counter to most Zenith technology.

New Golems

The massive new golem ships were a new feature as of The Zenith Remnant in general. This expansion added 7 golems that could be captured and rebuilt by the human players, as well as 4 golems that are used exclusively by the four minor factions added in the expansion. Golems are a pretty hefty topic, so they are covered in way more depth on the Golems wiki page.

New Minor Factions

The idea of minor factions was added as part of this expansion, and four minor factions were included with it. Three other minor factions were also added to the base game at the same time. Minor Factions are a pretty hefty topic, so they are covered in way more depth on the Minor Factions wiki page. Here's a list of the ones added as part of this expansion, though:

  • Zenith Traders roam about the galaxy, willing to trade with humans or AIs alike. For more information, see How Do I Work With A Zenith Trader?
  • Zenith Devourers have a one-track-mind: destruction. They vacuum up smaller military ships to power their own craft. For more information, see How Do I Survive A Zenith Devourer?
  • Zenith Miners are also rather destructive, but their goals are more grand: they destroy entire planets for their own selfish purposes. To prevent this sort of localized apocalypse, see How Do I Kill A Mining Golem?
  • Zenith Dyson Spheres have harnessed the power of an entire star inside their golem, and can be interacted with in a couple of ways. For more information, see How Do I Interact With A Dyson Sphere?
  • Broken Golems
    • As of version 5.0 of the game, the golems are implemented via one of three new minor faction options:
    • Broken Golems (1 - Easy)
      • The EASY version of this minor faction simply gives you the golems with nothing in the way of benefit to the AI. Consequently, your adjusted score is also halved.
    • Broken Golems (2 - Moderate)
      • The MODERATE version of this minor faction gives you the golems at a moderate energy cost and with a small AI Progress increase upon repairing them from their broken states. Consequently, your adjusted score is also reduced by 1/3.
    • Broken Golems (3 - Hard)
      • The HARD version of this minor faction gives you the golems at their base energy requirements with no AI Progress cost to repair them. However, whether or not you choose to capture any golems, the AI will be launching periodic large waves with golems (and other big nasty things) of their own -- so you're highly advised to get some golems in order to survive.

New AI Special Weapons

One aspect of the AI War universe that was only explored to a small degree in the base game was the idea of specialized AI weapons that would be on specific AI planets. Examples from the base game include Super Fortresses, Captive Human Settlements, and more semi-common weapons like Ion Cannons. Certain of these weapons are mostly limited to use by a specific AI type, but there is always a small chance of them showing up on a planet or two in any game. One huge focus of The Zenith Remnant was to add vastly more content of this sort, making for hugely increased variance in campaigns played using the expansion compared to just the base game. Here is a list of them, along with what they add to the game in general, broken out into various sub-categories by general function.

Situational Awareness AI Weapons

Situational awareness refers mainly to scouting further than just to the planet that you directly plan to attack, and keeping an eye on effects that might come from adjacent planets instead of just the planet you are currently on. Thus one planet can be something of a "modifier" to the planets around it, and having a more accurate picture of the neighborhood of a potential target is suddenly much more relevant than in the base game.

  • Alarm Posts
    • When an AI Command Station is destroyed on the alarm post's planet, or an adjacent planet, all of the guards at the current planet will desert their posts and go on the attack. If the alarm post itself is attacked and destroyed, there is only a 50% chance of it alerting the guards.
  • Special Forces Alarm Posts
    • When an AI Command Station is destroyed on the alarm post's planet, or an adjacent planet, all of the "special forces" ships in the entire galaxy will turn aggressive and attack the humans. If the alarm post itself is attacked and destroyed, there is only a 50% chance of it alerting the special forces ships.
  • Raid Engines
    • Launches brutal waves against its own planet or any adjacent planets, if those planets are not controlled by AI players, or if the human players have a significant fleet there. If human players don't have warp sensors on these planets, the waves may well arrive unannounced. These waves arrive around every four minutes, contain a broad mix of AI ships, and use the tech level of the planet if that is higher than the current wave level for the controlling AI player.
  • Interplanetary Munitions Boosters
    • Doubles the attack of all allied ships on its planet and all adjacent planets. It's good to keep an eye out for things like this, so that you don't run into a situation where your ships are being mysteriously overpowered by the AI. Situational awareness is important, and leads to better long-term strategic decisions, too!

Planetary Modifier AI Weapons

In the base game, there were attrition emitters. These various AI weapons have a planet-wide effect in that same way, thus completely altering a battlefield, but the effects are quite varied.

  • Radar Jammers (I-II variants)
    • Causes all ships on the planet to have extreme trouble targeting at ranges greater than 1000. Mark I affects all ships, whereas Mark II just affects enemy ships.
  • Planetary Shield Boosters
    • Provides 200% bonus to the shield strength of all allied ships on the current planet, making them far harder to hit.
  • Planetary Shield Inhibitors
    • Disables the shields of all enemy ships on the current planet, making them much easier to hit. Also disables enemy force fields.
  • Black Hole Machines
    • Prevents all enemy ships (except scouts) from escaping from this planet through wormholes, though enemy ships can still enter through wormholes as normal.
  • Gravity Drill Stations
    • A large station that bores a hole into the fabric of spacetime. So brutal is the rending of normal space that the effects radiated from this rupture dramatically interfere with most known forms of propulsion thus rendering any teleportation within the system impossible and reducing the speed of all vessels to 8. Generates free energy, metal, and crystal for the player holding it.

New Astro Trains

Astro Trains are all about changing the strategic landscape based on these ambient ships passing through. Some people hate them, some people love them. This expansion provides a lot more variety in astro trains compared to the base game (which had only vanilla "astro trains" as a single I-III line of ships). The presence of these can really change the characteristics of a battlefield from one moment to the next.

  • Astro Turret Trains (I-III variants)
    • Tough but not nearly-indestructible robotic courier. Has heavier turrets than normal astro trains, and so poses much more of a threat. Otherwise these work pretty much like vanilla astro trains. If destroyed, an individual astro turret train is gone forever.
  • Astro Speed Booster Trains (I-III variants)
    • Nearly-indestructible robotic courier. Slightly damages nearby ships. More importantly, they provide a massive speed boost to all AI ships in the system and reveal any cloaked ships that come near.
      • The effect that these can have on a battlefield, especially when they stack their effect from multiple trains, is pretty shocking to see.
  • Astro Regenerator Trains (I-III variants)
    • Nearly-indestructible robotic courier. Slightly damages nearby ships. More importantly, is able to use its own health to resurrect AI mobile ships that are killed on the current planet. Resurrected ships are teleported to another AI planet at full health at no cost beyond the health of the train.
      • These are sort of like the regenerator golem, except that they provide to ambient threat instead, and just cause a bit of delayed havoc when passing through a big battlefield. Fortunately these are comparably rare, but destroying astro train stations in order to reroute these is of course highly recommended.

New Ion-Cannon-Like Weapons

  • Core Warhead Interceptors
    • Advanced weapon insta-kills warheads (which explode without doing any damage or incurring any AI Progress increase).
  • Orbital Mass Drivers
    • Advanced weapon sends projectiles stripped from an iron asteroid to deal heavy damage to starships and golems.

New AI-Progress-Affecting Structures

In the base game, a common target for destruction is Data Centers. In the expansion, there's more options than just that.

  • AI Co-Processors
    • Destroying a co-processor normally increases the AI Progress by 20. However, when you destroy the last co-processor, the AI Progress takes a massive drop of 120. Check your Mission Summary (right side of the screen) to see how many co-processors remain; hitting all of them simultaneously is ideal. Co-Processors also interfere with supply on their planet.
  • AI SuperTerminals
    • When humans capture the planet on which this resides, they gain direct access to the core network of the AI, where they can greatly damage the AI's processing capabilities. Every 15 seconds, this decreases AI Progress by one, but as a side effect, this increases AI Progress Floor by 0.2 At each reduction the terminal will spawn AI ships proportional to the total AI progress reduction. For AI progress details, move the mouse cursor over the AI progress display at the top of the screen.

New Capturables

Another aspect of the AI War universe that was only somewhat explored in the base game was the idea of capturables. In the base game, the main things to capture are Advanced Research Stations and Advanced Factories -- and both are really essential to winning the game. That still holds true in the expansion, but the expansion also introduces a wide variety of new kinds of capturable technologies to tempt players. This makes for more rewards on more planets, and thus much more interesting and challenging decisions about which planets to take.

You can't take every planet, and since so many planets now have some sort of reward, that means you have to pick and choose between rewards to capture. Certainly the difficulty involved in securing and then holding that reward also plays a part. In some respects you could argue this is almost like a secondary technology tree, but is based on spending AI Progress and military firepower on taking planets with capturables, rather than knowledge unlocks. A lot of the capturables also have drawbacks such as increasing wave sizes, etc (as with Captive Human Settlements in the base game), so that adds another strategic layer to these decisions: is it worth the gate raids you may have to do in order to get a specific capturable?

As of the expansion there are now so many capturables that they are heavily randomized per game, not only in terms of position but also in terms of which ones are even there in any given campaign. This is a huge boost to the variability of the campaigns.

General

  • Golems
    • These already have their own section, above. There tends to be three golems in every campaign on a midsize (40 planets) or larger map.
  • Zenith Power Generators
    • These provide a massive amount of energy for a really inexpensive cost. They have the best cost-for-energy ratio of any energy producer, by far. These have proved to be immensely popular with players.
  • Planetary Modifier AI Weapons
    • Many of the ships in the "Planetary Modifier AI Weapons," above, can be captured in the same fashion as ion cannons in the base game.
  • Ion-Cannon-Like Weapons
    • Many of the ships in the "Ion-Cannon-Like Weapons," above, can be captured in the same fashion as ion cannons in the base game.
  • Zenith Reserve Ships (I-IV and Core variants)
    • Destroy to capture a large cache of Zenith vessels for your own use (at some AI Progress cost). Given the large number of ships that come online at once, be sure to have between 400k and 1 million energy available to support them.
      • These can be amazing at turning the tide, or as a way to clear a particularly tough AI planet. Generally most players go into energy debt with these, causing brownouts of their force fields while the excess zenith ships are in use, since getting enough energy to cover these outright can be extremely difficult to say the least. So these do come with some tactical risk, and choosing the right moment to blow them open can be crucial.
  • Distribution Nodes
    • Destroy to capture a sizable cache of metal and crystal for the player destroying it (at some AI Progress cost). Be warned, however: around 1/5 of all nodes are actually Trojan Distribution Nodes, which are empty save for a malicious electronic payload that actually causes you to lose a sizable chunk of resources before automated recovery systems can purge the malicious infection.
  • Core Fabricators
    • As in the base game, there are fabricators available for all of the core ship types from the new bonus ship classes.

Experimental Starships

These are used by AIs, or are constructable for human players via a capturable Experimental Starship Fabricator.

  • Warbird Starships
    • Extremely fast starship with cloaking and a huge multi-targeting energy burst system. Great for clearing out hordes of enemy ships.
  • Beam Starships
    • Fires very powerful high-range beam weapons that strike all enemy ships in a line.

Experimental Ships

The experimentalist AI type is the only AI to use these. Human players can build these via capturable Experimental Fabricators.

  • Speed Boosters
    • Mobile ship that increases the speed of all friendly ships in the current system by a small amount. This effect is cumulative when multiple speed boosters are present.
  • Decoy Drones
    • Tough, armored vessel with no significant guns. Attracts all fire from enemy ships to itself in place of ships within its protection area. Enemy ships that can fire through force fields (such as snipers and infiltrators) can also fire past decoys.
  • Translocators
    • Mid-power teleporting fighter that fires shots that cause enemy targets to be teleported far across the current planet when they are hit.
  • MicroParasites
    • Reclaims enemy ships it kills (reclaimed ships have health = half damage inflicted by reclamator). Very weak alone, but becomes significantly stronger when many are at the same planet.
  • Experimental Engineer Drones
    • Repairs damaged ships or can accelerate construction done by other ships. Unless issued a specific command by its controller, it will automatically repair nearby allies. Advanced prototype model that can regenerate itself as well as repairing other ships very quickly.

Other New Ships Available For Direct Unlock By Players

These ships are unlockable at any time, in any game, through either command stations, starship constructors, or similar. They provide more options for players in fleet customization during any game, to let the players better adapt to the many new possible scenarios that the expansion sets up. Here is a list of them, along with what they add to the game in general:

  • Cloaker Starships (I-III variants)
    • Very fast starship that cloaks other ships near it, even if those other ships normally do not have cloaking. This has been put to excellent use for everything from sneak attacks to knowledge raid blitzing, and so forth. They are pretty hard to use effectively for most new players, honestly, but these are something that a lot of expert players really adore.
  • Zenith SpaceTime Manipulators
  • These can be unlocked and built at the command station. They increase the speed of all friendly ships in the systems on which they are built -- an effect which is cumulative when multiple spacetime manipulators are present. Beware the minor AI Progress increase if these is destroyed, but in the meantime they help to accelerate logistics and create "roads" of sorts between your planets, allowing a single defensive fleet to cover more ground, more quickly -- or for specialized offensive ships in an obscure location on the map to be brought to the front lines much more quickly, either way.
  • EMP Mines
    • Enemy ships coming too close to these invisible traps will incur heavy damage. If the ship triggering the mine survives, it will also be paralyzed for 60 seconds. The mine is also destroyed in the process. These are particularly useful for stalling out large incoming vesseles that don't have mine avoidance.
  • Area Mines
    • Enemy ships coming too close to these invisible traps will incur heavy damage. The explosions from these mines also effect other enemy ships that are close by. The mine is also destroyed in the process. These are obviously useful for taking out groups of ships, but they are also useful for hitting ships that have Mine Avoidance -- those ships can still get caught in the blasts of area mines that are triggered by another ship.

New ZR AI Types

The base game included around 26 AI types, and the expansion adds 14 more. Here's the list of them:

Easier

  • Zenith Descendant
    • Aggressive AI that uses only Zenith fleet ships.
  • One-Way Doormaster
    • Employs black hole machines on all of its planets, which makes each raid into its territory a one-way trip if the black hole machine is not destroyed.
  • Shield Ninny
    • Planets are all heavily defended, often with special boosters for allied shields or inhibitors for enemy shields, but this AI never launches waves at the players.
  • Grav Driller
    • Aggressive AI with many gravity drill stations on its planets. Gravity Drills nullify teleporting units and majorly slow down all other units, but when captured provide free resources and energy.

Moderate

  • Camouflager
    • All of its mobile ships look like harmless pieces of junk when stationary and not firing.
  • Experimentalist
    • Aggressive AI that uses a heavy mix of experimental ships along with its normal fleets.
  • Speed Racer
    • All of its mobile ships have been upgraded to move extremely fast.
  • Peacemaker
    • Uses anti-golem, anti-starship, anti-warhead, etc, ships on all its planets.
  • Tag Teamer
    • A defensive AI whose guards are extra speedy and don't stay near their posts. This makes them more challenging to attack.

Harder

  • Alarmist
    • Uses alarm posts (special forces or regular) on all of their planets. Makes for massive cross-planet attacks unless players carefully kill these alarms.
  • Starfleet Commander
    • Aggressive AI that uses starships heavily in place of normal fleet ships.
  • Golemite
    • Has fully-functioning golems on a great many of its planets. Since the AI Progress goes up greatly when these are repaired, care must be taken to destroy these all in one wave to avoid any such penalty.
  • Radar Jammer
    • Employs radar jammers on all of its planets, which makes long-range ships very ineffective against it.

Technologist

  • Raid Engine
    • Uses Raid Engines on a huge number of their planets. Makes for very frequent, short-term brutal waves in addition to the normal waves unless players carefully kill these engines.

New Map Styles

The following map styles are new in the expansion:

  • Tree
    • Connections between planets are all in long and branching (and sub-branching) strands.
  • Spokes
    • Connections between planets are all centered around a few key central areas.
  • Snake
    • Connections between planets are strung together in a very long line, or series of lines.
  • Vines
    • Connections between planets are strung together in a very long line, with "leaves" sprouting every few junctures.
  • Lattice
    • Planets are in a fairly orderly cell-like pattern, with a massive latticework of connections between them.

New Music Tracks

In all, there is over 40 minutes of new music added in this expansion. The specific tracks are:

  • Special Tracks
    • Expansion Title Theme
  • During-play tracks:
    • Birth Of The Golems
    • Cries of Zenith
    • Fire And Iron
    • Heart Of Zenith
    • Revelations 9-6
    • Riddles In The Dark
    • Stars

Other Miscellaneous Additions

  • 18 new cheats
  • 46 new achievements

AI_War:Fleet_Command

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