I’ve found a way to have fun fighting with the computer and not be driven crazy every 4 minutes. With the AI on Hard, I have an easy 8 minutes to get my shit together before dealing with any major offensive. By 8 minutes, I’m going tier 3 and probably have some units in play already. I’m finding I peak at tier 3, with 2/4 economy upgrades purchased for both power and requisition. I’m rolling along if that’s the case, and can afford to repeat-build a preferred unit or two. With Eldar, I go Warp Spiders and Fire Dragons from two separate barracks. Tau Empire sees XV8 Crisis/Sunfire Suits and Hammerhead Gunships. Imperial Guard gets Kasrskins and (INSERT TANK-OF-THE-WEEK HERE). Fire dragons take care of structures much more effectively than a Nightspinner, so I go with them. For my success, the approach has been to solidify the economic standing of my colony, then begin peaking with units around tier 3 so I’m not wasting resources on units that are going to die quickly. Even upgraded and reenforced, It’s sad to see tier 1 stuff going against my Wraithlords. It goes poorly for them.
It’s not as clear cut as that. Orks tend to get into my perimeter by the 5-6 minute area, which can be problematic unless dealt with. I’ve found myself leaning on fixed defenses for some early-game cushion. I set listening posts on perimeter requisition points and then build a cluster of fixed defenses right on top of it. i will do this usually to two posts with a map-edge to protect flanking approaches. With two points fortified, I can spend resources on upgrades and technology. I get my requisition and power gains both leveled twice, so my economy can take a repeating build queue from at least two structures and afford me some leftover resources to buy more upgrades. I find that it takes time to get to this point, at least 7-10 minutes. Usually it happens that about the time my tier 2 opponent has started causing me worry, I’m in a place where I can draw back, coil, and strike. I hit the ground with leveled and deadly units usually built to a counter of some sort, so I can address what the enemy has already shown me, and act appropriately.
I these games, which run from 16 – 22 minutes, I’m able to do all the things I want in the RTS gameplay experience. It’s a fragile balance often upset by being dealt a slightly more aggressive or passive AI personality. I fins Orks, Tyranids and Chaos Space Marines are all pretty aggressive (respectively). Nercons, Sisters of Battle and Tau Empire are all a bit slow on the ground game. They tend to be slow when measured to when I end up peaking, which is usually a win if I make it farther along than they do come scrapping time.
I’m lacking a significant anecdote which relays this point effectively. I have only a few skirmishes to make my new-found assessments. I am curious if there are different approaches to handling the skirmish AI? Though, I am weary from the thought of playing new human opponents… I know the transition is shocking and vastly different from the AI (see, predictable).
The great quandary of these games comes from two human minds competing on these arena floors. Every game then truly being the result of a collision of two chaos-driven engines or creative inspiration. There are surely more reasons to record games when you have human foes: the games requiring explanation are often because they’re hilarious.