A Story of Strategy

My ancient race of lazy energy beings, the Procrastini, were interrupted from their colonization program by their first encounter with alien life: the Amon’krie. No sooner than our communication channels were established did these slimy lizards begin to initiate intelligence attacks against my empire. Against this onslaught of espionage we were largely defenseless thanks to our previous complete focus towards rapid colonization.

Insulted and infused with an irrational desire to vengeance, I struggled to maintain a cool head in dealing with these villains. Arrogantly, the Amon’krie beasts ignored my repeated diplomatic treaties and other demands to cease their spying. I grew tired of these insults, and gave my diplomats instructions that set in motion the transformation of the cold war into a hot one. Procrastini factories ceased producing peaceful colony ships are started producing deadly fighters and carriers. I would confront these beasts and force them to yield!

As the war begun, I noticed something amiss: The Amon’krie ships I encountered were grotesquely mishapped things, imbued with strong armor but armed with weak magnetic rail cannons whose aim was directed by ancient computers. I discovered that merely a dozen of my state-of-the-art fighters could render their entire “fleet” to ash. The mighty Amon’krie empire was a lamb in wolf’s clothing, still unsteady on its feet from inexperience. The Amon’krie retained their diplomatic arrogance even as their homeworld fell under my control, but to me their words were now a feeble bleating at the pack of wolves surrounding them. I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of guilt at how easy it had been to break the back of this fledging space empire.

If this story had a moral, it was this: Space Empires V has a sucky AI. I stayed up 2am to face what appeared to be a shrewd computer opponent, only to discover a defenseless moron. Where I was once excited, I now regretted not having gone to bed on time. What a tease that was! Space Empires V is so damn close to strategy gaming ecstasy, and yet, so very far thanks to problems like this.

Malfador Mechanations has been introducing a patch about once every month, but it will be awhile until they get around to generating a challenging AI, if ever. Space Empires V does feature excellent mod support – just modify some text files and you’re good to go. To these ends, Captain Kwok has created a balance mod. Unfortunately, I can’t try out the mods with the demo version.

Ah well, at least there was the Supreme Commander demo, which can put up a pretty decent fight on “Hard” mode… Time and space ruptured briefly as my battle hardened giant cyborg of a Commander unit appeared on the surface of the hostile enemy planet…

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