The digital release (aka Bonus Pack) of Galactic Civilizations includes a bunch of extra maps and scenarios that we came up with from simply playing the game for fun. When you take off your developer hat and gamer hat and just get to play the thing for personal enjoyment, all kinds of new ideas come up. So we put some of those into scenarios and maps.
But they still need to be tested. One of those scenarios is called PowerDuel. In it, the logistics cap is raised massively. Logistics are in the game to help control the size of fleets. The idea being that if you want to have big fleets, you have to put a lot of effort into it. Players tend to end up with large fleets of weaker ships which is by design.
But what of people who want to see dozens of ships fighting it out in space? Maybe even hundreds? Would the adaptation AI system work? This would be the test.
Rather than picking a randomly generated map, I pick the TotalWar map. It's been ideally balanced for 1 on 1.
I set the Drengin to tough. This is their best game without getting freebie money and such. Only around 5% of users should be able to beat it at this level. I am 20 wins, 0 losses in this mode. However, this game is being played against the new AI system which has a lot more in-game adaptation. For AI junkies, this isn't a neural net, the game isn't learning between games. Rather, the AI figures out different actions that have positive consequences and then repeats. My job as AI developer is to define "positive consequences" and hook the AI into data that the player has access to.
Very straight forward map. I am going to go for the quick win here since that's my best chance to beat the AI controlled Drengin.
I have one big advantage -- I know where all the good planets are since it's a precanned map. The AI does not. It has to explore them. I'm not above taking advantage of this. No different than when I used to play WC3 and knew which creeps had the best treasures. ;)
The Terran Alliance hold dominance in this quadrant with 4 planets to 3 planets for the Drengin Empire. It was a close thing though as the TAS New Hope barely made it to Thindor I before the Drengin colony ship arrived.
The summer of 2225 would be a happy time for the Terran Alliance. The Drengin threat would need to be neutralized.
Step 1: Get some basic attack ships.
Step 2: Get planetary invasion.
Step 3: Eliminate Drengin Empire.
I suspect the Drengin Empire long for the day when they could see everything (ala GalCiv I). Now they know the pain humanity has had to deal with in sending out scouts. So all they can do is look helplessly as I exploit my advantage in planets to build up the resources. My industrial might is currently ahead of the Drengin's as well. This unarmed scout is keeping an eye on what I'm doing.
|Like the animal that inspired its design,
the Viper is a vicious little thing. It is very small so it only uses 2
logistical units to support. It can do 4 damage and can be
produced in great numbers owing to its incredibly low cost.
The plan is to build these in large quantities and overwhelm our enemies with them. Known to insiders as "The Zergling", it would bring Terran power to the Drengin in this quadrant in a way they would rue the day for declaring war on us.
|Length: 12.1 meters
Span: 8.1 meters
Mass: 35.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 135 billion credits
Maint: 3 billion credits per week
Weaponry: 4 Westinghouse Fusion powered Type IV laser cannons (beam damage)
Thanksgiving 2226 didn't start out so well. A small Drengin task force destroyed the defenses on Markus I and took out starbase 101. However, the first squadron of vipers was ready and about to make clear to the Drengin the error of their ways. Of course, the cowardly Drengin withdraw as my forces draw near.
The first fleet battle would occur in early 2227, a squadron of first generation Drengin heavy fighters (7 of them) vs. 9 of my vipers. The Drengin ships were tougher but fewer in number.
The Drengin ships can take more of a pounding but the viper is basically a flying gun. And I had 9 of them.
The Drengin adapt, however. They build their own fleet of 9 ships to take on my fleet that is now 7.
But I get the jump on them. I have taken a pause from weaponry to improve my propulsion technology so that I get to be the one who initiates most of the battles. However, with 9 Drengin ships vs. my 7, their toughness prevails over the viper's lethality:
But it costs them. 7 of their 9 ships destroyed. Simply put, the Drengin need a better ship. But in the near term, they park their ships by Markus II and hold control over the skies. It's only a matter of time before transports arrive.
This is a real problem for the Terran Alliance. I need to get more serious on this clearly.
The balance of power shifts. 4 Drengin worlds to 3 Terran worlds. Play time is over.
The Drengin send a scout ship to start sniffing around Martzia.
|The Drengin strategy was quite different
from ours. Our ships are heavily armed but can't take a lot of damage.
The Drengin have gone with a heavier fighter which has more hitpoints.
They then only put a small amount of weaponry on each one to keep the
cost down and then mass produce.
The effect can be intimidating -- lots of Drengin ships that can take a bit of a pounding but are lightly armed.
|Length: 18.5 meters
Span: 12.1 meters
Mass: 70.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 93 billion credits
Maint: 2 billion credits per week
Weaponry: 2 Mark II Rail Guns.
The philosophical difference was about to get a test. 5 Vipers vs. 5 Mark 2 heavy fighters. My faster speed ensures I was able to get the initiative. Their ships have almost twice as many hitponits.
The result - Drengin victory -- barely. The Drengin take 47hp of damage vs. only 30 for me but with twice as many hitpoints to spare, it doesn't matter.
It's an interesting dilema -- Drengin ships are cheaper than mine but tougher in a 1 on 1 battle. However, I can put more into a fleet than they can because heavy fighters take up 3 logistics units. I don't think the Drengin could win a 3 vs 2 fight.
It was time for my counter attack.
I had gathered a large number of ships for the assault to take back Markus. 2,000 legions were involved for the ground portion.
The Drengin wouldn't be giving it up lightly though. Their scout had spotted my massing and the Drengin had sent in their own fleet of 7 ships. Remember that 3 to 2 ratio I mentioned before? Here was our opportunity to put it to the test. 7 X 3/2 is about 11 which is the number of ships I had here. Now to see what would happen.
The result: Clear victory for the Terrans and the planet is now open to invasion.
Markus was mine again. The Twlight of the Drengin were at hand.
However, the Drengin had something in store for me...
|The Drengin Frigate was the first larger
sized ship we'd seen. It was also the first Drengin ship of war
that we'd seen that was adapted to our weapon configuration -- beam
weapons. It was specifically targeting our tiny Viper class ships.
How it would figure in war would be difficult to tell.
|Mark III Frigate "Vin' Rah"
Length: 218.5 meters
The Drengin threw two of their new ships into combat in a fleet of 6 ships against 11 Vipers who were piloted by veterans giving them a significant advantage. The Drengin fleet wouldn't have a chance. It was time to finish this thing.
The first native Drengin planet was mine. I was now deep into the core Drengin worlds.
This would have to be removed first. It was protecting the main Drengin world quite effectively. A strike force should be enough..
The way was now cleared to take teh main Drengin world: Andersona I. Having researched planetary bombardment, I would let the mass drivers soften the people up...
Even with three transports, it was not quite enough. The Drengin home world in this quadrant was too well fortified. I would have to call in reinforcements.
Meanwhile, in war, compromises have to be made..
By Christmas 2229, it was over. The Drengin were a spent force. Their last planet was about to go down.
A few invasion transports later, victory was mine. The Drengin were defeated.
Where did the Drengin go wrong?
We were pretty even on research.
But they lost far too many military engagements.
We produced roughly as much stuff as one another.exc
So why did they lose? My answer is that this game could have gone either way. There was a key battle for Markus. And I was able to put together my 3 to 2 ratio that I needed to win with my strategy. Their strategy was pretty solid though -- they went for cheap but tough ships. I just beat them to the punch on getting that one planet and everything flowed from there.
One other mistake the Drengin made (which I'm rectifying) is that they didn't take out my resource starbases. That was a big mistake. Something I'm rectifying right now in code.
All in all, even though I won, and won solidly, I would say that the Drengin played a reasonably good game. If I were to score it, I would say the score was 5 to 3.