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Dreamteam67: in my experience there seems to have been a large drop in AI aggressiveness that happened somewhere between the initial introduction of 1.50 (where one could change the config files... awesome patch btw) and the current version 1.50.8
Is it possible a bug has been introduced into the difficulty settings somehow through the inclusion of the front-end launcher?
For the record, the current version is 1.50.9.

Launcher controls the game via configs (which are still there and editable), so if there is such bug, it isn't related to launcher. The regression is certainly possible, but subtleties like AI buildup speed are hard to trace. If you could provide the same save developed in different versions with visible difference or an isolated example of passive ai, that would be something to work with.
Dreamteam67: Aren't the "classic" settings closer to the original "vanilla" game? I thought 1.50.8 "standard" introduces "corrections" which changes some of the game dynamics (like missile initiative and reducing +1 fighter damage)? Although in both versions fighters are still outfitted with "normal" beams but get the "pd weapons" target bonus, correct?

[...] there seems to have been a large drop in AI aggressiveness that happened somewhere between the initial introduction of 1.50 [...] and the current version 1.50.8 I have installed. It almost seems as if the AI difficulty is permanently set to "easy" or something. I'm not seeing the epic late-game AI buildup I used to encounter in past game versions. Not even when using the ICE mod. [...]
Yes, the 150 classic settings are closer to the original game. 150 classic does not enable the updated combat mechanics for example, and some peculiar things are unaltered, like the delayed missiles and +1 fighter damage.
In both versions fighters have normal beams (can be changed to pd via cfg) and get a +50 targeting bonus (thats like pd and continuous bonus combined)

When talking about epic late-game, whereabouts are we in terms of #turns played? 400s, 500s? Assuming also its on Impossible mode?
Lets indeed continue this in the 1.50 patch thread if you can provide us with more info on the matter.
By epic late game I mean more like around turn 250. I'm just not seeing AI Battleship spam or anything similar. Anyways, I'll see if I can produce a concrete example between 2 different versions. That means I have to reinstall an older patch, correct? Are there archived files somewhere?

It could be that my SP play has developed so aggressive I don't give the AI a chance to build up at all. But it seemed like in the earlier 1.50 versions, the game was more challenging overall. Certainly the ICE mod eliminated many of the early vanilla rush strategies, almost guaranteeing the game would go above 200 turns in a huge impossible galaxy. Yet the AI seems quite passive compared to the first few games I remember playing using 1.4. I'll see if I can produce a concrete example.

Appologies to the OP for the thread hijack.
Post edited December 11, 2017 by Dreamteam67
Thanks for your feedback @Dreamteam67, and sorry for
a) late reply, and b) failing to prevent early blitz as intended ;)

Do you think it would have been sufficient to reduce the starting money,
respectively to provide a leader without megawealth?

I played it 4 times and the fist 30-40 turns a couple of times more (file dates are irrelevant;),
without blitz attempt it was mostly crucial that all 3 ships survive the battle at Vuples.
In that case its imo not adviseable to go for the Meklar, just chase the scout away from Dante
and take care they dont settle at Ktynga or Xiphias.
I went for the silicoids1st, somewhat delayed until they had spread enough appeared more effective,
so i could take a couple of their colonies before they had a ship/fleet ready.

"epic late game" is when you have completely miniaturized everything you can put into the epic titan which singlehanded destroys the epic late game fleet of 7 harbingers, ~5 smaller ships and the Antaran Battlestation.

Besides, i dont mind a lil off topic in "my" threads,
just stay away from flaming and show respect to all participants.
townltu: Thanks for your feedback @Dreamteam67, and sorry for
a) late reply, and b) failing to prevent early blitz as intended ;)

Do you think it would have been sufficient to reduce the starting money,
respectively to provide a leader without megawealth?
Hi townltu,

I think the money/leader situation is ok in your setup, but yes, a non-Megawealth leader would make starting finances much more dicey. Also, I think you could have made it quite a bit harder by one simple rule: All three starting warships must survive till the end of the game. With both those changes, an early Blitz might be financially impossible.

Another tip is not to use the Psilons as your custom race. Because when you do, the AI Psilons never are picked as one of the other 7 races during map creation. One of the main advantages of the AI races is that they cheat by freely trading/demanding tech from each other. So having the AI Psilons essentially giving free creative tech to all its neighbors (such as to the AI Sakkara or Klackons) is one of the main nightmares as a player. Instead, choose one of the weaker races, such as the Gnolems or the Alkari to customize. That way the strongest AI opponents can be randomly chosen from during map creation.

One thing you should think about is why the custom race you provided is such a good early blitzer: Fighter Bays, good beam weapon, good drives, a target within range. Your race starts with 3 of the 4! And Fighter Bays only takes 5 turns to research!
1. Being transdimensional gives it fast movement bonus both on the strategic map and in battle. Being fast as early as possible is key for a Blitz.
2. It starts with Fusion Drive. Coupled with Transdimensional, it is like starting out with Ion drives. It is a huge boost to both strategic movement and movement in battle. Not only are your fighters faster, but your missiles are too (ie. your ships can stay further back in combat to fire and escape being damaged, plus outrun slower enemy ships/missiles)
3. It starts with Mass Driver. That is a 50% damage output boost over Lasers (6 vs 4), and is a tech upgrade that works on fighters too. Massdriver ALWAYS supercedes Fusion Beams when used on fighters, so you can see this makes the choice to go for Fusion Rifle a no-brainer. Which in turn already makes up for having Low-G combat disadvantage.
4. The androids give Rigel almost the same economic/research capacity as an early 8-pop planet. So even though Rigel's pop has very slow growth, it still is a pretty good base to build a fleet and launch a Blitz from.
5. It starts with strong research provided by the leader. It can basically research each of the "150" cost techs in 8 turns, and the "250s" in 12. That's FAST. If you want to slow a blitz WAY down, then slow down research.
6. Megawealth bestows a pretty good financial windfall each turn, thus allowing speed-building by purchasing production. For key purchases (like buying a cruiser early) this helps enable the blitz.
7. Meklon is right at the other end of a wormhole from your starting planet. Coupled with the other factors, Meklon is blitz-bait.

Also, try playing vs the ICE mod if you haven't already. It rearranges the tech tree and upgrades AI ships and races. Most of the classic blitz strategies no longer work.

I've had a lot of fun playing your challenge. But the challenge imo is not to beat the AI in less than 300 turns, but rather to beat it in less than 100. So far, the best I can do is victory by conquest in 114 turns (on classic settings using 1.50.8). That's pretty fast, but my guess is it's possible to do better, and I'd like to hear how it is done!
Post edited December 12, 2017 by Dreamteam67
Dreamteam67: [...] and I'd like to hear how it is done!
lemme start by saying that i liked the save. starting with unusual settings gives flavour to the game.
sadly, apart from nice storyline, the practical use of the 2 larger starting ships was unclear to me.
the frigate is nice, coz it has tanks and scout lab, so has purposes in life.
as dreamteam suggested i sent the CA to 'explore' the dragon protected world, bringing its career to a not-so glorious end, and did the same with the destroyer ship some turns later. it would have been nicer if there were less rules regarding the ships (understandably they would have needed to be of some weaker design in such case)

meklon can be taken just before t30 if you use 2x destroyer, a bomber ff (built/bought on the conquered dante) and 1x transport instead of the more expensive cruiser and 2x transport combo.
the dd's are also 2 speed faster, making it even easier to outrun the non-ini missiles.
in my game the meklar settled on dante but also on the 2nd planet in meklon.
i ordered the bomber frigate to take care of it, saving build time for another transport.
the heavy-g ocean with 1 pop was not that useful anyway. :)

Conquest in 114 turns sound good, in game where transport building is huge drain on economy.
Did you invade most worlds or also bomb them? There could be some time savings by bombing planets.
Post edited December 12, 2017 by Rocco.40