[BERT] AI Aggression, DOW, and Cramped Starts

vorlon_mi

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A small rant from last night's game --
I like to choose different sponsors each game (Soyuz difficulty, standard sized planets, different biomes) and try to win with a different affinity victory than I've done before. Current game is trying to get a Promised Land victory with PAC / Daoming. Not a bad starting location -- riverside, but landlocked. KP landed south of me, about 10 or 12 hexes... a little closer than I prefer. She complained when I settled my 2nd city -- even though it was northwest and aquatic. My 3rd city was east, and a little south, near some firaxite and floatstone. KP complained a lot, dropped me to Sanctioned, and DOW the turn after. Building units to repel hers started to get boring -- her combat rovers were one-shotting my gunners, and I couldn't do much exploration. Soon the other AI -- Brasil, INTEGR, and NSA -- all decided to pile on. No one willing to be my friend.
OK, I said to myself, no forward settling this time. I went back to the turn 30 save and replayed, placing my 2nd and 3rd cities north, further away from KP. The dogpile and DOW still happened, just 30 or so turns later. Going back to the save and building more military, to deter them, didn't work. I noticed that KP was tending towards Supremacy, so in my re-tries I teched towards Supremacy instead of Purity. Still got dumped on.

Alright, spin up a new world with a different biome, still starting with PAC. Again with the close starting locations! ARC was northwest and Al Falah was a bit further away to the east. But Arshia started forward settling with aquatic cities. This time, I was more aggressive in building ships, since Tiangong was coastal. I've repelled an invasion from ARC, declared my own war twice on Al Falah to destroy an outpost (first time) and take two aquatic cities (second time). But I'm still getting multiple AIs declaring on me, not deterred at all.

In both of these games, I've beelined to Robotics so that I can get planes. Even level 1 planes can be very effective at repelling invaders, whether their combat rovers or cutters.

Questions:
- Is this consistent with your experience? Do the AI at Soyuz and Apollo difficulties tend to gang up on the human player in the first 100 turns?
- Is this related to the hidden AI tendencies of this game, why they might pursue different affinities from one game to the next? Perhaps I'm just unlucky, drawing some more aggressive neighbors in these last two games. I've often seen the AI beat up on each other, on the other side of the planet; today, I'm the target.
- Does the BERT AI act more aggressively when the starting locations of the original capitals are close? Is there a diplomatic penalty for settling expansion cities closer to their capitals than your own?
 

legalizefreedom

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Maybe a few games, but generally not. The entire secret of keeping them from declaring on you is to build more units and get unit upgrades. But sometimes the cards are just against you that way.
 

Darsnan

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Question: just curious, but why is there a BERT label on this thread? Is there really that much of a difference?

Anyways, got the opportunity to do some runs last night and this morning. Apollo difficulty, 82 Eridani/ Standard map. First game last night the AI (Brazilians) started 9 tiles from me. War started at turn 49, and they threw everything at me, and overwhelmed my defenses. This morning the Australians started about 15 tiles away, and war started around turn 85. I was barely scraping by against them (my HQ was continually getting knock down to zero strength, but I kept killing all his infantry and speeders so he couldn't take it). Then the NSA joined in against me, and that was it.

KP complained a lot, dropped me to Sanctioned, and DOW the turn after. Building units to repel hers started to get boring -- her combat rovers were one-shotting my gunners, and I couldn't do much exploration. Soon the other AI -- Brasil, INTEGR, and NSA -- all decided to pile on. No one willing to be my friend.
OK, I said to myself, no forward settling this time. I went back to the turn 30 save and replayed, placing my 2nd and 3rd cities north, further away from KP. The dogpile and DOW still happened, just 30 or so turns later. Going back to the save and building more military, to deter them, didn't work. I noticed that KP was tending towards Supremacy, so in my re-tries I teched towards Supremacy instead of Purity. Still got dumped on.

Questions:
- Is this consistent with your experience? Do the AI at Soyuz and Apollo difficulties tend to gang up on the human player in the first 100 turns?
- Is this related to the hidden AI tendencies of this game, why they might pursue different affinities from one game to the next? Perhaps I'm just unlucky, drawing some more aggressive neighbors in these last two games. I've often seen the AI beat up on each other, on the other side of the planet; today, I'm the target.
- Does the BERT AI act more aggressively when the starting locations of the original capitals are close? Is there a diplomatic penalty for settling expansion cities closer to their capitals than your own?

Overall my experience is that the AIs on Soyuz/ Apollo will attack you in the early game, and so while I'm researching Chemistry I'm building my initial army (infantry and Gunners). And as the game progresses the way I track if I have enough units to deal with the AIs (because they will dogpile you) is that I've got the red exclamation mark stating I'm being penalized for too many units.

D
 

legalizefreedom

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The early game I don't usually have any issues with the AI.
Possible reasons:
1. I usually play on Soyuz on Huge maps. Apollo is too much of a cutthroat race for my taste.
2. I restart if an AI spawns on top of me or if multiple are too close in around me. I don't usually have to restart, but I'm not shy if I feel cramped.
3. I set Frenzied Aliens. This probably keeps them busy more than usual. My early game is dealing with aliens, so I assume the same for them.
4. As noted earlier for after early game, take all opportunities to level up affinity/units and have just enough of a standing army to make them reconsider. If a faction has a hard on for you, note their Fear and work to raise it.
 

vorlon_mi

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@Darsnan I use the label just for completeness and clarity. One person who has responded to my threads still plays the base game without the expansion. I play Rising Tide exclusively, because I make regular use of aquatic cities and the revamped diplomacy system.
Perhaps I need to take a page from your book. My early game is usually focused on getting my first 3 cities set up, bumping up against the health constraints. When I get the free unit from building my second city, it is often used for exploring rather than combat.

@legalizefreedom Those reasons make sense. I always play on Standard maps, which increases my chance of a close neighbor. I'm not usually in the habit of restarting, but I may get there.
 

statusquo

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Hej, i came back to BE after so many years, that im not even sure i palyed Rising Tide last time. Any way i was hyped for few days until i realised, the balance in many situations is not in a good place..
The AI is not very smart in my opinion, and it mostly bases on the bonuses comparing to the player, on apollo basically everything seems like twice easier for the AI..

On Soyuz and Apollo AI starts with two additional Combat Rovers and Engineering, so the "strenght" of the AI comparing to the player is massive, and there is no wonder they will lose
fear for you.. This one time i was still sitting on 1-2 basic marines and i was exploring near AI which was already hunting alien nest with 7 upgraded combat rovers, so i realised
that on small maps with close proximity, there is simply not possible to win.. Maybe if you can have one good defensive city on the hill, with ranger inside and behind, T2 marine fortified on the side
on the defensive terrain, so that he could not be flanked.. you could defend initial push.. But this is already taxing on your production, which basically means your health, research and income will suffer, so
you can do it on one front, but usually not two or three..
But there is fear and there is respect, and i find respect more viable. I had like 8 fear one time and my ally backstabbed me into war. The fear alone, doesn't made them loyal,so i do it only to temporary get benefits from
their tier 3 trade agreements, but i don't trust them.. The crucial part is to understand their character traits, and how they influence your relations, so that you can maintain good relations. Not rarely i was able to have good
living with AI that had 8 respect, and literally 0 fear.. Usually sending a trade route to them is very good sign of good intentions.. Otherwise, you dont rly have control, on what they like, so i usually end up in situations, that
they like me or not, and this should be taken into account, in planning future attack and defences..Like sometimes, they like your gold reserves, but without good income, it will take ages to satisfy them..

Any way, my conclusion was, that, if i want to have a challenging game on Apollo, i need to somehow not allow to AI to get to me too fast, so i can get my initial setups without being disturbed by putting everything behind,
to build an army.. So my lazy solution for this is to play on massive "82 Eridani e, An alien world of scarce water and wracked by tectonic forces." with some large lakes or small oceans.. So usually interaction with the AI starts, when you already
have production capabilities, to at least defend your self, and use your defenders advantage.. I dont like playing seas maps, since AI just spam boats, and the game become become "patrol/gun boat fiesta".. And because their speed on the
water is a lot better then units on land, they can swam you in the blink of an eye..

Army alone is not a perfect solution any way, because once AI hit affinity breakpoint, your army becomes twice weaker then theirs, so the absolute key is to keep and eye on the AI affinities levels, to understand when they would attack you..
And they would attack you, most probably, when their might become much higher then your, which usually happen just after they affinity upgrades kick in.. But in this situation, their units probably 1-shot yours, since their strength will be twice higher..
The way upgrades works, which is in my opinion a big flaw, that when you reach affinity, all your units become upgraded, and you can only produce the better version, which is like 80-90% more expensive, then their un-upgraded version, so if you sleep trough this moment, you will get twice less units for the same effort.. Also, the way Affinity upgrades kick in, is that usually first for Soldier, then next level Ranger, then, Armour line, and then Artillery.. So if you are behind, your best
bet is to defend using marines, which also take advantage from terrain defence bonuses, and can fortify.. So T2 marines ST14, can defend T2 ST18 Rovers, T3 ST24 marines can defend vs T3 ST28 Rovers..
The big problem starts when you need to defend with lower tier unit, which you should never do.. But you have to some how slow down your opponent, until you catch up with affinity..
That is why defensive positions are important, like Fortify behind rivers, which gives you defence advantage, due to their "attack over river" debuff.. Placing cities on the hill, i believe gives u some city strength, but more importantly, it allows
you to hit targets, that cant see you but you can hit them. Hills, forests, rivers slow your enemies down, giving you more time, to damage units with your city and ranger, also helps you with positioning of your marines, which you should
not allow to flank them, which kinda counters your fortification bonus.. That is why i like to not "chop down" forest in my front lines cities it makes their units to crowd themselves before your city and makes retreat of damaged units basically
impossible, giving you a win.. Each unit killed during assault is a win..
Also, strenght of the cities in BE is kinda weak, so defensive buildings are very important. Rocket Battery and Defensive Perimeter are one of my priorities at the beginning..

Going back to affinity.. my conclusion is that research alone is not enough to keep you alive trough early game in Apollo. So affinity quest should be a priority, also any Progenitor and Alien Ruins are a prio, since they have a 33-50% chance to give
u Affinity.. and T2 marine upgrade, is absolute gamechanger vs ST18 rovers. That is why im initially leaving Old World excavation sites during first explorer scouting, since they will not give me unit upgrades..

The next issue i see is your army supply.. you get initial 5 on apollo plus 2 per city and 1 per 2 citizens, so if your colony is small, then even if you reach your max supply, AI can still treat you as a weakling.. Also, you get 1 science for every
citizen in the city.. So bigger cities are more supply, and more science, so faster affinities.. But then again, if you waste army supply for workers and orbitals, it can make you vulnerable, by not having possibility to make more army..
So everything early game, kinda snowballs it self..
My rule of thumb is that you could estimate opponents army with same formula that apply to your army supply.. And since on Apollo everything is twice easier on AI, i wouldn't count too much, they are fare away, from their cap :)
Also i realised, that there are AI, that i have like 5-6 fear with, while at same time i have 0-1 with the others.. which means, AI compares your army with theirs.. so on this criteria, you can judge, who is overall strong and who is not..
Also basing on this, and basing on map layout you could kinda predict, who will have problem with whom, and where wars will be..
Unfortunately late game, same Affinity upgrades also works for AI, that is why i often observed, that some AI will conquer literally all the cities of other AI in a matter of few turns.. This poses a big treat for your future, because, they gain tons
of production and military supply, which will flood you in the future..

But going back to your questions.. Imo on Apollo, there is no clear to know, if you survive initial game, mainly because of AI get Rovers+Engineering, much more researches, which allow them, to focus on the other researches that give them
affinity progress much faster.. Not to mention, their increase number of explorers also give them more possibilities, to increase affinity even faster.. Not rarely i was like 0-0-2 and they were already like 3-3-4..
On the beginning, its numbers games, you need to do a lot of your initial setups.. Like first colonies, workers, first science/health/production/energy buildings..
That is why imo, game kinda stabilises when you reach T4 marines, which, if you spam them, you should usually defend against everything.. But before that.. Its Rly hard, to impossible imo..
There are cases, that you usually would need to have "perfect start" to survive.. That is why i was sometimes was helping myself by save/load while excavating progenitors or alien ruins, for this crucial affinity :D

But.. why i did write so much :).. well because i realise, that with few tweaks this game could be truly amazing..There are few concepts and solutions i really loved..
Like progenitors wonders are so amazing, that they are game changers, would be nice to be able to unlock them later from some Tier4 tech.. better late then ever..
Simple quality of life stuff, like not seeing your army supply near your resources list.. Or no demographics, like in the civ..
Also when your unit is upgraded for free, and you get so much value for nothing basically.. Would be nice to put your unit in the city and hit "modernise" button, to spend production instead of money to upgrade it..
Also, giving AI those researches+military tech on the beginning of the game is just silly.. Would be more balance if AI on top of lesser costs, would have some "diminishing additional buffs" to help them with their starts, so
that they would not flood you with next era units, when you start near them on smaller maps..
 
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