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Gameplay Example: Drengin-Human Wars XXII

Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 By Frogboy In GalCiv Journals


This game play example represents Drengin/Human Wars XXII.  It is the first game in which the Drengin are fully utilizing the new adaptation based AI system that was developed over the past couple of months. 

The Drengin are 0-21 so far in these wars.   The last one (Game XXI) can be found here

Now before anyone asks: These game examples are designed to see how good the computer AI can be at the toughest setting before the AI gets any "Cheats" (i.e. free money). 

There are lots of lower levels to play at, some don't worry, the game isn't "hard" if you play it as easier levels.  My job is to make sure that the game is not only challenging but plays intelligently -- like a human player (well techinically, like a non-obnoxious human player).

This particular game will exist on a map newly created for the Bonus Pack.  It is called "Total War" and the scearnio is "Drengin Human Wars". It sets the players at permanent war and it's a 1 on 1 game on a relatively small map.  As the human player, I have a lot of advantages over the computer player, particularly in this case since I know where the worlds are and the AI does not.


..And so it begins...

Playing on a special map called Total War in a scenario called Drengin Human Wars. It's permanent war between the humans and the Drengin.  Only one will survive.  I have the advantage of knowing where the good planets are, the Drengin will have to scout them.  Poetic justice for all Galactic Civilizations I players where roles were reversed.

I am using the human style ships but making their hulls more gray than is normal.  The Terran assault in this sector will be led by General Talon.

This particular iteration of the scenario allows minor races. One of which occupies one of my planets (though it doesn't realize that yet).  Those pesky rodents -- the sentient squirrel race, the Snathi!

They have pointy teeth too!


The United Planets still works in my favor -- barely. 

New Years Day: 2226. Exactly one year after the start of the war, the advantage is strongly to the Terran side:

Making use of my advantage in terms of knowing where the planets are on this map, I've taken 4 of the planets. The Drengin currently have 4. One world is unclaimed and one is owned by a minor race.

However, within the month, the last unclaimed world is taken by the Drengin.  Change of plans -- my colony ship is upgraded to a constructor to build star bases.

The battle lines are drawn now.  I focus on beam weapons.

The T-1 Night Talker has been designed to be manufactured in bulk. It is a space superiority fighter that is cheap, effective, and lethal.

"The Night Stalker Controversy"

General Talon had insisted on a small, 1 man fighter.  The Terran Alliance has tended to focus  more on heavy fighter designs, particularly in the aftermath of the Xendar war 10 years previously. 

The Drengin Empire is a convert to the heavy fighter design and while other civilizations such as the Torian Confederation and the Korx tend to go with smaller fighters, there is a general consensus that heavy fighters with crews of 3 to 5 people make up for their cost with increase survivability in battle.

The argument is that as crews gain experience, they become more deadly in battles and heavy fighters are a better sweet spot than small fighters.

In this quadrant, General Talon has the final say and hence the Night Stalker was born. 

Small fighter doctrine says that one must have a 3 to 2 advantage over a similar generation heavy fighter.

The Drengin are particularly difficult since their ships tend to have more hit points than even standard heavy fighters.



T-1 Night Stalker
Length: 22.1 meters
Span: 18.2 meters
Crew: 1
Mass: 37.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 110 billion credits
Maint: 2 billion credits per week
Weaponry: 3 Westinghouse Fusion powered Type II laser cannons (beam damage)
Defenses: None

The first major engagement with the Drengin fit the doctrine ideally.  3 Night Stalkers vs. 2 Drengin heavy fighters.  The Night Stalker is a "Generation 1" star fighter while the Drengin ships we encountered were first generation (mark 0). So our ships were the latest design vs. what is likely an obsolete design.

Always trust the doctrine they say.  Unfortunately, the Drengin learn their lesson quickly.  The doctrine isn't secret after all.  3 fighters vs 2 heavy fighters vs 1 frigate.  The Drengin start moving ships in that have 3 heavy fighters.  I do not yet have the logistics capability to mass more than 3 fighters together.  Time to focus on building up my logistics tech so that I can have bigger fleets.

By the start of 2227, I have researched Basic Logistics.I now can have 4 small ships in a fleet. The Drengin respond by upping their logistics so that they can have 4 heavy fighters.  This campaign is quickly turning into a competing battle of logistics rather than tactics or even weaponry (which is a strikingly unusual thing).

It's a risky gambit for the Drengin Empire (and the AI behind it) to take because humans are much better at focusing military power than computers. Computers are good at organizing resources but tend to be more clumsy when it comes to making surgical strikes of coordinated military power.  This would be an interesting thing to see if it could pull it off.

It was time to bring in a new ship..

The T-2, affectionately called the "Pug", is a tough little bugger.  It is bristling with Westinghouse's latest gadget the "N1A-5 Fusion powered laser canon. It has 5 of them giving it an impressive amount of punch. 

Like all small fighters, it is the survivability that critics have a problem with.  With only 6 hit points of hull  integrity by default, the ship is incredibly expensive for 160 billion credits.

The Terran Alliance administrator for this part of the galaxy is concerned that General Talon should be focusing on more surviveable ships.  In a quadrant as small at this one with star systems this spread out, the ability to focus enough small fighters is difficult.



T-1 Night Stalker
Length: 20.1 meters
Span: 14.2 meters
Crew: 1
Mass: 42.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 160 billion credits
Maint: 4 billion credits per week
Weaponry: 5 Westinghouse Fusion powered Type V laser cannons (beam damage)
Defenses: None

All of the star ports were ordered to switch from the T-1 to the T-2 immediately.

My tactical situation was problematic though.  The Drengin know like anyone else that small fighters need to be turned into fleets.  So its strategy was pretty straight forward -- guard each planet with a superior force and eliminate emerging fighters as they are constructed.

So I find myself in a bit of a problem. Upon being built, I have to take my ships out of orbit and have them run away from the ships. The Drengin go in hot pursuit from both directions as I send two fighters towards each other between two planets.  The idea being that I can combine them into a fleet and hope the T-2s are enough.  The Drengin ships are still the mark 0.  My mark 2 ships should be quite lethal.  We shall see in moments..

Two bugs cannot take out 2 Drengin heavy fighters.  The 3 to 2 ratio remains despite my weapons advantage.  The problem is that the Drengin have their ability points sucked into hit points which gives them an advantage.  It's still pretty close.  But 12 hit points vs. 30 hitpoints is tough to overcome even if my weapons are 5 times better.

This is something that you don't want to see:

A Drengin transport heading towards an undefended planet with 4 - FOUR Drengin heavy fighters guarding the planet. You can imagine which direction my ships would have to come from (the one  they're facing).

I lose the planet.  Now we definitely have a problem.

The Mark 2 heavy fighter has arrived.  The Drengin are getting serious.  It's time to rethink strategy.  I'm not getting enough time to organize my small fighters into large enough groups and the Drengin have a logistical lead on me such that they can put 4 heavy fighters (12 logistics points) together.  I'm in serious trouble.

I've lost my defenses at Kwilas as well.  I need a new ship. Fast!

The F-5 was hastily designed and it shows.  The Westinghouse laser canons stick out on it like a sore thumb.  Rushed into production, it provides 3 attack but includes an experimental ECM module that may provide protection against Drengin heavy fighters.

It is definitely more than a match for the Drengin Heavy Fighter we've seen the most of -- the mark 0.  But the Mark 2 we're not so sure of yet.

Defenses are a great thing on a ship. One might argue that you should basically put all your time into defenses.  But there are problems with defensive measures: First you have to be rich to really make good use.  They're expensive. They tend to use slightly less space than weapons -- good.  But they tend to cost the same or more than weapons -- that's bad. 

And they can be easily countered.  So there are definite gotchas.  If you've got the money, defense is great!

The F-5 has more hitpoints (good) but has less punch (bad) and costs quite a bit more (bad). So the survivability is going to be key.



F-5 Sabre
Length: 34.1 meters
Span: 40.2 meters
Crew: 4
Mass: 62.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 192 billion credits
Maint: 4 billion credits per week
Weaponry: 3 Westinghouse Fusion powered Type V laser cannons (beam damage)
Defenses: 2 Basic ECM Modules (2 defense against missiles)


The first battle takes place right by our base colony. And it's sweet to see some victories finally.

What is that strange word? I have not seen it before.  Victory? I like it whatever it is.

Where the pugs failed, the Sabres pick up.

My sabres are much more survivable but they are much more expensive.  And I quickly feel the pinch financially.

Moreover, the Drengin sit there smug waiting for reinforcements:

Sander has fallen and Kwilas is the next target. The Drengin are escorting their transports aggressively. I can't touch them. Not yet.

Besides, those reinforcements come from my flank:

4 mark II Drengin heavy fighters.  Not as good as my ships but a lot cheaper.

There's only one thing I can do.  Visit the talking Squirrel.

I'm negotiating with a rodent.  How far have I fallen?

Too late for Kwilas. I've lot another planet.

New Years, 2228 the quadrant looks a lot different now.

I have two planets left. My economy is on the ropes, my industry is straining and I'm falling behind technologically.  I've never been in this situation before in a duel with the AI. 

The Sabers are doing a good job holding the Drengin back.  But I'm also having to defend the Snathi who are at war with the Drengin.  I need their money. 

Also, unlike in previous games, the Drengin are taking out my distant starbases (a change in the AI) which affects my economy.  The Snathi eventually fall as well.

The force that took out the Snathi included a Mark III frigate with deflectors (which take away some of the punch from my weapons).

A Sabre is no match for a frigate.

Given that this squadron of Sabres was to secure the area for my transports, this defeat means that my transports need to return home.

But I have a new destination for those ships:

Snathi!  I liberate the Snathi and they become a Terran Alliance protectorate. 

So what am I dealing with? 

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: 37.5 meters
Span: 38.5 meters
Mass: 72.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 160 billion credits
Maint: 4 billion credits per week
Weaponry: twin mark IV "Stinger" equivalent missile launchers..
Defenses: None
Extended Life Support package.

Combined with..

The Drengin Mark III frigate is no slouch. It's over half a football field in length and about the same in width.  Its crew complement is probably around 25 people.


Length: 77.5 meters
Span: 68.5 meters
Mass: 232.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 205 billion credits
Maint: 5 billion credits per week
Weaponry: twin mark IV "Stinger" equivalent missile launchers..
Defenses: Enhanced deflector package.
Extended Life Support package.

To counter this, the Terran Alliance had constructed the Hyperion class Battle Cruiser.

The Hyperion class is not pretty. It's pretty darn ugly. But it's tough and effective.  It would be the spearhead in our war to take back the rest of the sector.  The Drengin are winning the war at this stage. 

At 88 meters in length it was not a small thing. 



Length: 88 meters
Span: 70  meters
Crew: 22
Mass: 262.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 263 billion credits
Maint: 6 billion credits per week
Weaponry: 6 Westinghouse Fusion powered Type V laser cannons (beam damage)
Defenses: 1 Basic ECM Modules (1 defense against missiles)


And as fate would have it, they would get the opportunity to battle it out very soon.

Ironically, neither frigate sized ship survived but a single Sabre was left standing.  There were several other similar battles and essentially it's pretty evenly matched.

Unfortunately, the first wave of Mark IV Drengin ships were arriving and they were no longer using missiles.

Advanced Logistics arrives. Now I can create larger fleets than the Drengin can.  Could this turn the tide of war?

Twists of Fate

An odd event also came up...

Research rates doubled!  The Hyperions, meanwhile, have been holding back the Drengin hordes.  The Mark 4 frigates were problematic though.  With 9 laser canons and a shield array, they were more than a match for a Hyperion.  But they Drengin didn't have many yet.  Moving from missiles to lasers bought me time -- the Drengin had to go all the way up the beam weapon tree which takes time since techs get slightly more expensive for each subsequent one you get.

I used this time to take Xasica.  Xasica was a planet that the Drengin beat me to early on.  Now it was mine.  It as also my first opportunity to look at a Drengin planet.

Xasic was impressive. It had structures that I couldn't even begin to build yet.

Xasico has research academies, a manufacturing capital (yeeha!), enhanced factories, an orbital fleet manager, and a galactic achievement -- the restaurant of eternity.  It was a huge victory for the Terran Alliance!

It also demonstrated how far behind I was technologically.  I needed to get moving or the Drengin would outnumber me and outfight me.  The Mark V frigate, for instance, had 8 beam weapon attack (Plasma weapons) and 2 defense. Compared to 6 attack and 1 defense for a Hyperion.

I miss the early Drengin/Terran wars.  I used to be able to count on the Drengin only having a ship or two in orbit.  Now, not only does it have 7 ships in orbit, but it has an orbital fleet manager. This would be a tough egg to crack. 

I was now putting all my energy into upgrading my weapons and miniaturization technology. And with this...a new ship.


The Hyperion was a tough act to follow.  It had been the ship of the line for a good part of the war.  The Nova project was in design for a long time.  Measuring a bit longer than the Hyperion, it is considerably lighter than the Hyperion.

It makes use of the latest technology, it is our "Mark IV" Frigate equivalent. How it would do in battle would probably determine the outcome of the war.



Length: 91 meters
Span: 72  meters
Crew: 30
Mass: 242.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 275 billion credits
Maint: 6 billion credits per week
Weaponry: 3 Strategic Dynamics Mark I Plasma cannons.
Defenses: 3 United Earth Corp. Gen-2 Shield generators.

To support it, General Talon requested a new small fighter which he got.


The Sapper was an experiment in defense.  Did it make sense to build a ship whose hull is only rated at 6HP with significant defenses.  That was the goal of the Sapper project.

We would soon find out.



T-10 Sapper
Length: 21 meters
Span: 22  meters
Crew: 2
Mass: 42.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 133 billion credits
Maint: 3billion credits per week
Weaponry: 1 Strategic Dynamics Mark I Plasma cannons.
Defenses: 2 United Earth Corp. Gen-2 Shield generators.

At this stage, our existing ships of the line were simply outclassed.

So the real question was, could our Mark IV units get out there in time?

Since my ships were more defense oriented, they were more expensive. In this battle, I had more, better ships.

The problem is, while the Novas are good, the Hyperions are practically useless at this point.  And I don't have enough Novas.  The few I've had have done really well, even against the newer mark V Drengin frigates.

Snathi is conquered!

And the Mark V Drengin heavy fighters are really tough!

The Drengin create combined arms fleets of their new Mark V fighters with Mark V Frigates. It's a lethal combo.  Xasica is now undefended!

The Drengin are definitely in the driver's seat.  The situation is starting to look pretty grim.  We're down to 3 planets.  The Drengin have the rest (7?).

Thindor survives an invasion attempt.

The Sapper's defenses (rated at 4) are impressive until it's battling ships with an attack rating of 8 or more, at which point, its 6 hitpoints become a real issue.

The fat lady begins to warm up.

That defeat marks the end of the Terran Alliance as an effective combat force in this quadrant.

Xasica is still under my control but it's become a backwater in most respects.  But it is key in one way: It is the quadrant's leading research area.


And in 7 weeks, the Drengin will have expert logistics, so their fleets will be huge. 

This is my only chance now.  I have too few planets to do small ship strategies.  I now have to hope I can build a couple of tough capital ships.

The Last Stand


The Liberator is a design that almost imagines the designers grasping at straws.  With things looking so grim, a miracle was needed.

The Liberator is the largest ship in the quadrant.



Length: 192 meters
Span: 120  meters
Crew: 100
Mass: 555.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 350 billion credits
Maint: 8 billion credits per week
Weaponry: 6 Strategic Dynamics Mark I Plasma cannons.
Defenses: 1 United Earth Corp. Gen-2 Shield generators.







At nearly two football fields in length, the Liberator was a big ship. And there's much bigger ships available beyond this.

Even the Drengin Mark V's look puny.

Unfortunately, it's too little too late.

When the ships escorting a transport have 20 beam attack you know it's all over.

And that's when a Mark VI battleship arrives on the scene.

This is the last ship a Terran Alliance ship is likely to see.  Our weapons can't even penetrate their defenses.

Our economy isn't capable of producing this kind of ship.


Length: 207 meters
Span: 155.5 meters
Mass: 632.2 Metric tons (empty)
Cost: 451 billion credits
Maint: 9 billion credits per week
Weaponry: 1 G2 Plasma gun + 3 Mark III Stinger Missile equivs.
Defenses: 5 G2 Shield Grid system. (10 defense against beam)
Extended Life Support package.


My entire fleet of liberators...destroyed easily.

Xasica is gone.

My last planet.


Maybe I can get peace and find a way to get back at them later?

Or not.


So where did I go wrong?

I think the most obvious answer is that I shouldn't have tried to do the small ship thing with so few planets to build large fleets together.  I still managed to kill more of him than he got of me, not that that helped.

One might argue that my doom was sealed early on when I horsed around on getting the key planets.  I thought I could beat them to some of their key planets and then settle the ones close to me at my leisure.  I was wrong on that and it cost me. 

Now for those who are worrying that the game is too hard, bear in mind I'm playing at a very high difficulty level.  At the cakewalk levels it's much easier to deal with and the AI not nearly as aggressive.  At this level, the AI is trying its best to do whatever it takes to win.