Stars!-R-Us Article

How to beat the Computer AIs
by: Peter Cohen

Here is a basic strategy guide for defeating the AI opponent. No guarantees are made as to its usefulness versus human opponents, as humans are generally a lot smarter (or at least more able to learn) than the AI. For advice on defeating humans consult Sun Tsu, The Art of War, and similar ilk.

Spoiler Alert!

Do not read this if you ever want to be challenged by the AI again. ;)

Race creation:

It is often tempting to scrounge the points to buy lots of nifty lesser racial abilities, unfortunately this scrounging often has pronounced deliterious effects upon your long term success, moral: don't do this. Content yourself with just a couple of lesser traits and select the ones which most suit your personal style of play.

There is a tendancy to bump up your research costs to get points, as doing that can get you a lot of them. This is alright as long as you spend ALL the points thus gotten on increasing the resource output of your empire. Your planets will have to be 75% more productive just to makeup for the disadvantage and you will have to build up to that production. So to make up for that lag while you build up, your planet had best be able to produce far more than just 75% more resources.

Initial game:

Unless you are playing Hyper-Expander or Alternate Reality, do not expand too soon. Your first few turns should be spent ONLY building factories. Set your production to autobuild factories to 300 and autobuild mines to 300 after. Flag the 'Use only leftover resources button for research' button and set your research budget allocation to 100%.

Use your starting ships to explore your nearby space and hold your colony ship back. Do not colonize anything in the first few turns unless the planet has an 80% or better habitability range.

After about five turns of total concentration on factories start building one armed scout and one colony (regular colony ships, not converted frieghters) per turn in addition to factories. (Put those build orders before the autobuild orders on your cue.) Put that scout in orbit over your new colony and leave it there. That single lowly scout will probably destroy five times its tonnage before turn fifty rolls around. Do not send extra colonists to the planet just yet.

After about ten turns start producing a few extra scouts per turn and putting one in orbit over every planet they can reach. You may also consider putting an extra scout in orbit over each of your colonies. The AI never figures out that maybe it would be a good idea to blow up these scouts before sending any more colony ships their way. Artificial Reality totally crumbles to this approach.

(A cute hint about these scouts. Especially if you are playing a Jack-O-Trades race, these ships do not need to be equipped with sensors!)

Once your homeworld reaches around 200,000 pop, start building one freighter each turn and start sending extra pop to your colonies (with preferance going to the colonies with the best habitability). Try to never send more pop than what your planet will grow on the next turn. Ideally you want your planet to reach 333,000 to 400,000 pop as soon as possible. Once a colony has 75,000 pop, let it grow on its own and send your homeworlds surplus pop elsewhere.

Your homeworld will reach it maximum number of factories and mines at some point. Continue exporting pop and let the surplus resourses go to research. Let your research concentrate largely on the first four categories.

Mid game:

Do not build warships until you see your scout ships start to blow up. This will be around turn 25 to 30 probably, and even then you may want to hold off for a few more turns while you optimise your tech breakthroughs. When you do start building warships go all out for a few turns and build a couple of hundred frigates. Equip these frigates with the best engines, shields, and beam weapons you can, absolutely do not put missiles on them!

Keep your fleets concentrated. Never engage the enemy without at least a two to one superiority in numbers and keep your ships together in one fleet. The AI almost always will be building destroyers equiped with beam weapons. With two shield protected frigates flying in close formation per AI destroyer (protected by armor), your frigates will never take any damage. Never under any circumstances fight a battle you cannot win.

Once you have established total space supremacy in your territory start using your frigates to pick off any easy targets within one or two turns of your space. Be carefull to not over extend your reach as you need your frigates to keep your own territory secure.

Do not build more frigates than you really need as your resources are now needed for tech research. Your goal should now be warp ten cruisers with bear shields and six colloidal phasers. (Versus humans, four phasers and two overthrusters is best.)

Get your colony worlds maxed out as quickly as possible. The optimum autobuild setting for this is: factories(auto build) 200, mines(auto build) 200, max terraform(auto build) 100, defences(auto build) 100, starbase, in that order. As soon as a colony produces a starbase, upgrade it to the maximum you can build, making absolutely certain that it has a stargate for gating frigates. A cute trick for maxing out a world is once a world reaches 40% of its maximum pop capacity, put its pop growth each turn into an orbiting freighter fleet until the freighters contain enough pop to fill the planet to the brim in one turn.

End Game:

By now you aught be a jugernaught. Build fleets of fifty or so cruisers escorting fleets of twenty bombers and a super-fuel export, and send these to the enemies choice worlds bordering your space.. Follow these up with colony ships made with large freighters. Expand slowly and consolidate your expansion. Beware of rushing into mine fields, rather advance into them slowly letting your beam weapons clear the way. Use the enemy ship filter to moniter the warship fleet strengths of the enemy and never miss a chance to destroy them. Remember to keep your fleets together and beware of impatience, it is now your greatest enemy.

Peter Cohen

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