SgtArmyGuy wrote:I think the AI could afford to use its rare doom-stacks more aggressively. The Imperials had some impressive fleets with impervious 720 shield ships, but they rather sat on their own systems and watched me bomb everything around them than go do the same to MY systems. In this game it was the Imperials vs. the rest of the galaxy, but I've seen this behaviour on 1v1 situations as well. If you do intend to make the AI sue for peace earlier on (as I have understood is your idea), why not give it a "main fleet"? A super-aggressive doomstack that actively attacks the enemy systems, and doesn't necessarily follow the rules of other AI. Then you can associate the "sue for peace" event with the destruction of this "main fleet" (or "fleets", if the AI empire grows big enough). Narratively and gameplay-wise, the "main fleet" would create an incentive for fighting a decisive battle (which is a good thing in a tactic-focused 4X). If you DON'T destroy the main fleet, it WILL come to your doorstep and f**k your sh*t up - but if you DO take it on, and take that chance of losing, you have a good chance of making the AI sue for peace. Currently it's just too easy to avoid that big battle and destroy the enemies around the doomstack. This is not very fun, or very narratively engaging.
...and when I say the main fleet should be a "doomstack", don't interpret it too literally. I just mean: give the STRONGEST fleet a "special" AI logic and role in the game. It's bound to wreack some havoc when unleashed, and would require the player to re-adjust their strategy! Basically, you would have the choice of encountering the doomstack or going around it, and each choice would have a more clear-cut "cost" to it.
Yeah, I think the AI logic around managing attacking fleets could really use some logic updates. The core problem, in my mind, is that the AI doesn't currently have much of a notion of a "fleet", instead it just routes each ship independently towards whatever stars it identifies as attack/defend priorities. This leads to a range of problems. Just visually, the fact that the AI is moving around lots of small groups of ships, instead of a couple big coherent fleets, makes it much harder for the player to figure out what's going on during a major war. But the ship-by-ship routing strategy also creates strategic problems for the AI, as small groups of ships that have been routed independently can end up being caught out of position by enemy forces and defeated in detail. Then there's the "fun factor" that you identified -- because the AI is generally splitting up its ships to attack multiple targets at once, rather than just stomping around the map with the biggest fleet it can muster, big decisive battles are rare.
The somewhat delicate thing here is that I think it's capacity to wage war on multiple fronts simultaneously is actually a good and important feature of the AI. Particularly on huge maps, it's pretty common for an AI to be fighting 2+ different opponents at once, and in totally different regions of the map. That it's capable of doing this somewhat competently is important, I think; and if I lean harder into a "main attack fleet" concept, the AI may well get worse at handling those multi-sided conflicts.
That said, the bottom line, I think, is that the current attack routing logic is hurting the game in a variety of ways -- so a rewrite or significant logic patch is probably in order.