AI War:Fallen Spire Walkthrough

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WARNING: this article contains a lot of spoilers.

If you'd rather discover the details yourself but want some info, check out the basic non-spoiler overview.


Our intention is that winning a "Fallen Spire" game should be roughly as challenging as winning a normal game, assuming you know what is going on. If you don't know what's coming, an FS game can be much harder. Therefore, our intention is that it be much harder the first time you try it ;)

Also, note that we said "winning". "Playing" a FS game can feel a _lot_ harder in the early/mid game because so much of the challenge is shifted from the late-game into those earlier phases. It's more of a "showdown" style confrontation with the AI. The AI knows that it needs to stop you _before_ you can build up your true strength, and that struggle will feel pretty intense.

If you'd like to tone down that "unknown" challenge factor, though, feel free to read this walkthrough and/or the article on the more technical details of how the FS stuff works. It's not cheating, it's reconnaissance ;)

Game Setup

We've heard of brave souls starting their first FS game on difficulty 7.6+ with Advanced Hybrids on and stuff like that. More power (and bandaids) to them.

We suggest, however, going with something closer to a game with 2 Diff 7 Vanilla-type AIs with no large-challenge-increase factors like hybrids or whatnot. It's up to you, of course.

Map-wise, you'll have a much easier time if you can get a closed-in territory of decent size that can be guarded by 3 or fewer chokepoints. Also, plan on having to take more territory than a usual game requires.

The First Local Signal

When you start the game, you will be notified of a subspace signal on your homeworld.

If you build a Survey Ship (it's right next to the normal science ships on the build menu) it will scan for the signal and locate another signal, on another planet.

  • Advice: the survey ship itself isn't cheap, it's not intended that you start on it immediately. Taking a couple planets first wouldn't be a bad idea.

The First Remote Signal

Note that this signal tries to spawn:

  • 2 hops from your homeworld
  • Not requiring hopping through a mkIV+ AI planet (even if that means not being 2 hops into AI territory).

If you send a survey ship to the indicated planet, it will scan the signal there and find a strange artifact called a Shard.

The shard (once found) is basically a normal unit under your control. You want to get it back to your homeworld.

  • Advice: as soon as you find the shard, save your game (having a backup from before is good too), give it a move order to get back to your homeworld, and prepare to cover it (and your homeworld) with everything you've got.

The First Shard, Chase, and Recovery

Why do you want to get it back to your homeworld? Because as soon as you find the shard the AI starts spawning special strike-forces to destroy it and/or you. These spawns happen about every minute, and stop once the shard is on your homeworld (or destroyed, but you don't want that). Ships already spawned will stay on target, so you'll have to deal with them.

This first "chase" shouldn't be terribly difficult. The Shard itself is very tough to destroy (3 million health, Neutron hulltype). You do want to have a fairly strong fleet and defenses, though. Those AI strike forces can include mkV ships and tons of other unpleasantries. That's nothing compared to what comes later.

  • Advice: you may have to try again several times (i.e. savescum). Be creative, you have lots of tools you may not be used to using (at least in the early game). Engine damage (spider turrets, riot starships), staggered tractor turrets putting "no entry" forcefield caps on wormholes, EMP warheads (won't disable the mkV stuff, but will generally separate it from the rest), Grav Turrets, staggered-tractor-turrets-and-grav-turrets-under-forcefields, etc.

The Subspace Receiver, and the Second Local Signal

Once you've recovered the shard, you can use it to build a Subspace Receiver on your homeworld (don't send it to another planet, or the AI spawns start again). The Receiver's purpose is to scan the signal that just popped up on your homeworld.

  • Advice: there's no rush to build the receiver, the AI isn't doing any kind of ongoing FS-related assault. Yet.

The Second Remote Signal, Chase, and Recovery

When the receiver finishes scanning it will find another remote signal (again, the game tries for 2 hops out).

This survey and recovery mission functions almost exactly like the first except that this time the "chase" strikegroups will be over twice as strong and the uncovered object is a "Refugee Ship" instead of a shard.

  • Advice: like with the shard it's a good idea to have a save from before the end of the survey operation, and to give the refugee ship a move order to your homeworld as soon as it is found (the ship can actually fight, unlike the shard, but that is not its purpose here).

The Refugee Outpost, and the Third Local Signal

Like the shard, the refugee ship can build something once it's on your homeworld. This time it's the Refugee Outpost. Note that it must be placed fairly close to a resource point (metal or crystal deposit), but it doesn't occupy that point or anything like that.

The outpost is basically the first "payoff" for going through these various ordeals. Specifically:

  • It has the equivalent of a MkIV Heavy Beam Turret. That's a _really_ big gun. If properly placed it can greatly assist with defense.
  • It can construct Spire Frigates, which are fairly sturdy starships with a longish range continuous beam weapon (which is different from zenith beams or human heavy beams) that can do quite a lot of damage when it gets a good shot. The outpost can support 4 of those frigates.

The outpost will also begin scanning the next local subspace signal for you.

  • Advice: again, no rush to build the outpost, it is a fairly costly structure. But this one has benefits. One strategy is to get to this point in the FS progression and then switch to playing the game "normally", and you've got the "free" HBC-IV-equivalent on your homeworld and the 4 continuous-beam-weapon frigates to throw around as you desire. This walkthrough assumes you're going to continue with the "campaign", however.
  • Advice: The outpost can't be replaced if lost, so you'll probably want to cover it with forcefields and turrets.

The Third Remote Signal, Chase, and Recovery

This recovery mission functions like the first two (with a shard this time, not a ship) with a few important differences:

  • The game will try to spawn the signal 3 hops out, instead of 2.
  • It will no longer care about passing through MkIV AI planets (nor will it intentionally try to do so), though it will avoid AI Homeworlds and core planets (those next to an AI homeworld).
  • The shard moves twice as fast as the previous one.
  • The AI "chase" forces will be over twice as strong as the last time, and will split into (generally) three groups: one to go after the shard, one to go after the refugee outpost, and one to go after your home command station.
  • Advice: again, having a save from before is a good idea. Having built all 4 of the Spire Frigates that the outpost can support is a very good idea. Those continuous beam weapons are a bit tricky to get the hang of, but are very effective if used properly. One suggestion is to place the frigates on the line between two wormholes you know an attacking force will use, so that they fly into the line of the beams rather than across them.

Starting The First City

Once the shard is back home, you can use it to build a Spire Colony Ship. This colony ship can in turn build a Spire City Hub, but there are a number of rules:

  • A city hub cannot be placed on a planet with a Home Command Station.
  • A city hub must be placed on a planet with a (non-home) human Command Station.
  • A city hub cannot be placed within 2 hops of another city hub.
  • A city hub cannot be placed on a planet with only one wormhole.

The AI will not react to the colony ship in any special way, but once you start construction on the hub it will send a very large strikeforce against you. Roughly 6 times the size of the initial set that came after this last shard. The difference is that those chases had new AI strikeforces spawning every 60 seconds, and this city-building-response is a one-time spawn. But since the strikeforces will be more concentrated you will see bigger and more powerful ships. If you're on a high enough difficulty and/or have enough human homeworlds (via multi-hw start or multiplayer) you may even see (depending on enabled expansions) Golems (The Zenith Remnant) and Dire Guardians (Vengeance of the Machine).

  • Advice: no rush to build the colony ship or city hub. Bear in mind that both cost a very large amount of resources, and that you'll want to have a full cap (999,999) of both metal and crystal on hand before you start building the hub. Definitely save before starting to build the hub. Another very important question is where to put your city hub. We heavily suggest placing it near a wormhole that invading AI ships have to go through to get to your homeworld. You see, later on, the city will be quite the defensive powerhouse.
  • Special Note: Once you build a city hub, you've irrevocably escalated the AI's concern about you and the Spire refugees, and the AI will continue to send strikeforces after you throughout the game. You don't have to build the city, you can just play the game normally. But, assuming you want more pain...

Spire Cities

This section and the next focus on what you can do now, rather than on what you have to do to progress along the storyline. Up til now the Fallen-Spire-specific elements have been largely discrete "add ons" to the normal game. From this point on they become more and more integral to your experience, the challenges facing you, and your strategy for victory.

Once the hub is complete, it can build 3 other kinds of structures:

  • Spire Shard Reactors
    • Supports Hab Centers and Shipyards.
    • Can mount a variety of defensive modules (produced the same way the Riot Control Starships produces their modules).
    • Has a fairly big main gun (same sort of continuous beam weapon as the Spire Frigate).
  • Spire Habitation Centers
    • Require at least one Shard Reactor in the galaxy somewhere for each Habitation Center.
    • A city must have at least one to advance to the second level of development.
    • Provide a pretty hefty amount of metal and crystal.
    • Can also mount defensive modules.
    • Also has a fairly big main gun.
  • Spire Shipyards
    • Require at least one Shard Reactor in the galaxy somewhere for each Shipyard (they do not compete with Hab Centers for this, each Shard Reactor can support one Hab Center AND one Shipyard).
    • Can build Spire Frigates and larger Spire ships.
    • Increases the ship cap of Spire Frigates (by 4 for each shipyard) and larger Spire ships.
    • Cannot mount defensive modules.
    • Also has a fairly big main gun (noticing a trend?)

Initially the hub can only support a total of 3 structures. Since the other two structures require a Shard Reactor, the first one has to be (you guessed it) a Shard Reactor.

For the second one you could build a hab center or a shipyard (or another reactor, but that's probably not the best choice). If you're struggling economically (quite likely with these massive m+c price tags) the hab center is probably the best. You'll need one anyway and it produces quite a bit of resources. If you're doing well resource-wise you may want to jump to the shipyard because it will let you build more Spire Frigates and also a Spire Destroyer (more on that later). Either way, you'll want one of each.

But you may have more serious things to worry about during this time, because as soon as the hub is completed the AI begins "charging up" an exogalactic strikeforce to go after you again. The first one is released about 10 minutes after the hub is completed, but it will be fairly small (roughly 1/6th the total force thrown at you when you started the hub). It then charges up again for about 12-13 minutes to send another force about 25% larger than that first small force. The time interval and size will increase by about 25% each time. Both the intensity of the attacks and interval between them will "cap out" at 6x the first 10-minute-interval force. The "cap" on intensity can be increased later, but only if you continue along the storyline.

So once you have the Shard Reactor online you may want to prioritize building its defensive modules instead of the next main structure. Or, particularly if the AI is coming at you from many directions (and thus you can't count on a large percent of the attackers having to go through the city), you may want to prioritize the shipyard so you can get more Frigates and a Destroyer.

A city can be "upgraded" to "level 2" by:

  • Building a Habitation Center at that city.
  • Destroy the AI command station on all planets adjacent to the city.

This upgrade is not particularly announced, but it is necessary to progress to the next stage of the story and also allows the city to support up to 6 external structures. One sequence of construction is:

  • Shard Reactor.
  • Habitation Center.
  • Shipyard (fleet size up to 8 frigates, 1 destroyer).
  • (clear adjacent planets of AI command stations)
  • Shard Reactor.
  • Shipyard (fleet size up to 12 frigates, 2 destroyers, 1 cruiser).
  • Shard Reactor.

The last reactor doesn't increase fleet size since there's no room for another shipyard, but it will provide supply for another shipyard at another city later on. But that's getting ahead of ourselves.

Spire Modules

Both Spire Capital Ships (Destroyer and larger) and most Spire City Facilities (Shard Reactors and Habitation Centers) can build and mount several kinds of module, so let's cover those now:

  • Laser Cannon Modules
    • These are generally the weakest weapons, but also the cheapest.
    • You start with the MkI version unlocked, and can unlock the MkII and MkIII versions by researching the MkII and MkIII Laser Turret techs, respectively. Having those extra laser turrets around is also not a bad thing. The MkIV version cannot be unlocked until later.
  • Rail Cannon Modules
    • These are also on the lower end of power for Spire weapons, but they're sniper weapons.
    • You start with the MkI version unlocked, and can unlock both the MkII and MkIII versions by researching the Sniper Turret. The MkIV version cannot be unlocked until later.
  • Heavy Beam Cannon Modules
    • These are basically the same as human heavy beam cannons except strapped to the side of a ship (or city structure). They're the mainstay of the Spire modular armament in terms of overall power, though they lack the ability to focus strongly on distant targets unless those targets are fairly large.
    • You don't start with any of these unlocked, but you can unlock the MkI, MkII, and MkIII versions by researching the MkI, MkII, and MkIII heavy beam cannon techs, respectively. The MkIV version cannot be unlocked until later.
    • Note that the Destroyer can only mount MkI HBC modules (and a single MkII at the expense of its shield generator) and the city structures can only mount up to MkII (and a single MkIII at the expense of the shield generator).
  • Plasma Siege Cannon Modules
    • This is basically like bolting a siege starship onto another vessel. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? They're much like siege starships in that they can only hit large targets, but they hit like a freight train. Note that, unlike siege starships, these siege cannons do not suffer from an inability to hit forcefields (or other stuff immune to antimatter bombs).
    • You don't start with any of these unlocked, but you can unlock the MkI and MkII versions by researching the MkII and MkIII Siege Starships, respectively. The MkIII version cannot be unlocked until later (there is no MkIV version).
    • Note that the Destroyer cannot mount these at all, and a city structure can only mount a single MkI at the expense of its shield generator. Basically, don't worry about these until later.
  • Shield Generator Modules
    • These project a forcefield to protect the capital ship or city structure. In the case of capital ships these can basically double the hp of the ship (but are permeable to enemy movement). For city structures they're significantly weaker than that but can cover an enormous area (and block enemy access). Neither variant has any adverse impact on the offensive power of ships protected by them, as a normal ff gen would.
    • You start with the MkI version unlocked. The MkII capital-ship version is unlocked with the MkII Forcefield Generator tech. The MkIII capital-ship version and the MkII city version are unlocked with the MkIII forcefield generator tech. The MkIV capital-ship version and the MkIII city version cannot be unlocked until later.

A Fork In The Road

First, you have a decision to make. Your current situation is different from a "normal" game in that:

  • The city can provide an extremely strong defense of one front.
  • The city's shipyards can supply a fleet of 12 frigates, 2 destroyers, and 1 cruiser.
  • The city's habitation center provides you with 1000 metal per second.
  • On the other hand, the exogalactic strikeforces will continue to escalate until they "cap out", and depending on your defensive situation and what other forces are at play in the galaxy (high difficulty AIs, hybrids, etc) you may not be able to hold completely stable fronts.

There are two basic paths from here: 1) Don't continue the storyline. Instead, use the extra power to fend off the exogalactic strikeforces and use the lulls inbetween them to strike at the AI using your high-power capital ships. Eventual victory should be attainable, if the game setup is not too dangerous.

2) Continue the storyline. This means building more cities and more capital ships. And being attacked by stronger and stronger exogalactic strikeforces. And at 5 cities you will reach a critical mass that may enable you to tip the scales against the AI.

This walkthrough assumes you will continue with the storyline, but please understand that option 1 is entirely valid. There's even an achievement for winning during this phase (you can have multiple cities and still get it, more on that later). It's sort of a "middle road" between the normal game's guerilla warfare and a more frontal war upon the AI. The AI knows you have those capital ships and has escalated its efforts to destroy you, but it doesn't think it needs to go all-out. Yet.

Onward From The First City

Anyway, once your first city has reached level 2 (again, build a hab center and clean the AI off the planets adjacent to the city) it will begin scanning for another "city shard".

When that scan is complete, you can recover the shard in basically the same way as previous shards.

  • This time the shard is spawned 4 hops out from your homeworld (last time it was 3).
  • The shard moves 50% faster than the previous one (twice as fast as the first one).
  • The individual chase spawns are 1.5 strong as the chase spawns when recovering the first city shard, but they have an interval of 90 seconds instead of 60. So the actual "per-second" rate is the same; the added difficulty comes from the added distance and the somewhat higher-level ships being chosen for the chase groups.
  • The chase groups will be split across (generally) 4 different targets: the shard, your home command station, the refugee outpost, and one of the structures in your spire city. Note that the city hub itself is basically invincible and invisible but also has no combat capability.

This shard, like the last one, can build a Spire Colony Ship on your homeworld. That in turn can construct another city hub. Just remember the following:

  • City Hubs are quite expensive.
  • When you start construction of the hub, a strong exogalactic strikeforce will immediately spawn (so you may want to wait until you've just fended off the latest "naturally occuring" strikeforce provoked by the existence of your first city).
  • City Hubs cannot be placed within 2 hops of another hub. This means that to plant (and develop) 5 cities you're going to have to take a significant chunk of territory.
  • If at all possible, you want each of your cities to cover some important chokepoint or similar position. Defending against the later strikeforces is much easier that way.

Once the second city hub is complete, the exogalactic strikeforce "intensity cap" is doubled, and the rate of "charging" is also doubled. So if you were already at the "cap" and _just_ had a strikeforce spawn, the interval will be 30 minutes and the strength the same as the last one, and the strikeforce after that will have a roughly 37.5 minute interval and be 25% stronger, etc. It will again cap-out at a 60 minute interval with a total strength equal to 12 times the first post-city-hub strikeforce.

If you have 3 shard reactors at your first city, your second city can be built like follows:

  • Habitation Center.
  • Shipyard (fleet size up to 16 frigates, 3 destroyers, 1 cruiser).
  • Shard Reactor.
  • (clear adjacent planets of AI command stations)
  • Shipyard (fleet size up to 20 frigates, 4 destroyers, 2 cruisers).
  • Shard Reactor.
  • Shipyard (fleet size up to 24 frigates, 5 destroyers, 2 cruisers).

The resulting fleet is quite formidable. Note that you will not be able to build anything larger than a cruiser until sometime after the 5th city.

The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cities

The process of scanning for, recovering, and using these next 3 shards is basically the same. This continues the escalation from guerilla war to total war. The exogalactic strikeforces will become truly formidable (particularly on higher difficulties) but so will your defenses and your fleet. Between strikeforces you will be able to (if you choose) take your capital fleet and "glass" large swaths of AI territory. AIP is still important, but when your defenses are capable of handling the exogalactic fleets normal waves will feel much more tame (but take care they do not hit you at the wrong time).

One advanced technique you may find useful: as you've probably noticed, your shard reactors can support shipyards at a different city. Also, shard reactors are much more effective as a defensive structure (because of their modules, their main cannon is the same as the shipyard's). Therefore, you can have "internal" cities that are shipyard-heavy and have your "external defense" cities be packed with shard reactors. This has tradeoffs, of course.

Another note is that you'll want to accumulate a fair bit of knowledge: not only do the modules require significant normal research, but later on there will be some advanced research options that are quite powerful but also quite expensive.

The Galactic Capitol

Once your fifth city is complete, you can construct a Galactic Capitol at any of them.

  • It does not count against the allowed number of city structures on a planet.
  • It is quite expensive.
  • It is not invincible, but has a rather powerful cannon and can be replaced. Despite this, it isn't really intended to be on a defensive front-line.
  • When construction starts, it provokes a one-time spawn 2 times as strong as that provoked by the start of a city hub.
  • When finished, it contributes the same amount to the "charging rate" and "cap" of exogalactic strikeforces as a city hub.
  • When finished, you can use it to research a number of advanced Spire technologies:
    • Spire Colony Ship - 3000 knowledge - with this you can build as many of these as you want at your shipyards. So, if you feel the need for more than 5 cities you can build as many as you like. It's not cheap, though, and each city will contribute more to the exogalactic strikeforces.
    • Spire Battleship - 6000 knowledge - the next size up from Cruiser. These things are big, and extremely strong particularly with the higher level modules. It takes a lot of shipyards to support even 1 Battleship, however.
    • Spire Dreadnought - 12000 knowledge (requires Battleship unlocked) - the largest capital ship you can build. The knowledge cost is enormous, and each Dreadnought takes a _ton_ of shipyards to support (you won't be able to support more than 1 with 5 cities), and costs as much metal and crystal as a city hub. But properly supported by a fleet a Dreadnought is nigh unto unstoppable. Its offensive capacity rivals that of the AI Avenger.
    • Shield Module Mk IV - 3000 knowledge - this allows mkIV capital ship shields and mkIII city shields. A must-have at this level, as it contributes massively to the endurance of your cities (and your largest capital ships).
    • Heavy Beam Cannon Module Mk IV - 3000 knowledge - these things are _much_ more powerful than the mkIII versions. Only Dreadnoughts can reasonably mount these (Battleships can mount one but only at the expense of shields), but a DN equipped with 2-3 of these can do a _fantastic_ amount of damage in a short period of time.
    • Laser Cannon Module Mk IV - 3000 knowledge - less impressive than the HBCs but more widely useful. All city laser cannon mounts can use mkIVs, and battleships and dreadnoughts can use some as well.
    • Plasma Siege Cannon Module Mk III - 3000 knowledge - only a dreadnought can use one, and only in place of one of the shield generators (though it has two such mounts, so it doesn't have to entirely without). You probably don't need these, but there's probably no better weapon for obliterating strong forcefields (doing 12 million damage per shot to those).
    • Rail Cannon Module Mk IV - 3000 knowledge - only battleships and dreadnoughts can use these. You also don't really need these, but it depends on your style. They are quite strong for railguns.
  • Finally it begins scanning for the final (yes, final!) shard.

Of course, you don't have to build the capitol (if you aren't intent on going through the whole storyline), and it does increase danger somewhat. But if you have the knowledge and resources to make use of what it unlocks it's gives more than enough of a boost to make it worthwhile. If you're knowledge-poor you may want to wait until you've remedied that.

But if you win before building the capitol (and after building the refugee outpost), you get the first Fallen Spire achievement.

Another Fork In The Road

With 5 cities and a galactic capitol and enough knowledge you can have something like this:

Cities 1, 3, and 5 each have: 3 Shard Reactors 1 Hab Center 2 Shipyards

Cities 2 and 4 have: 2 Shard Reactors 1 Hab Center 3 Shipyards

For a total of 12 shipyards, supporting a fleet of: 52 Frigates (48 + 4 from the refugee outpost) 12 Destroyers 6 Cruisers 3 Battleships 1 Dreadnought

With appropriate modules such a force has an almost silly amount of power. It isn't invincible and will lose frigates pretty quickly in heavy fighting, but the sheer firepower is incredible.

And that's the point.

That's what the AI has been fearing would happen, and why it's been throwing so much more at you than usual.

But it has failed to stop you, and at this point you may basically have won.

That's right, depending on difficulty and whatnot you may simply be able to:

  • Select your Spire fleet.
  • Fly across the galaxy.
  • Roflstomp the AI Homeworlds.
  • Win.

It's not a guaranteed victory, though, lots of surprises can happen (the Devourer Golem, in particular, loves to "happen" to frigates and destroyers). And if the difficulty is high enough the AI may actually have sufficient force to stop you. Or be applying enough pressure that your Spire fleet is required for defense.

So if you either cannot or do not want to win that way, there are two alternatives:

  • Build more cities, more shipyards, more ships, etc until you have enough force. 2 more cities will give you room for enough shipyards to support a second Dreadnought, for example. Winning this way is the second Fallen Spire achievement.
  • Recover the Core Shard (the Galactic Capitol scans for this), and use it to build the Exogalactic Transceiver and achieve the alternate victory.

The Core Shard

The recovery mission itself is pretty normal, except that the shard always seeds on an AI core world (next to an AI homeworld), so be prepared to fight for it. Also, the individual chase spawns are quite strong (but not any higher in the "per second" sense, like with the city shard chases).

Once you've recovered the shard, it can be used to construct the Exogalactic Transceiver on your homeworld. The start of that construction will trigger a rather hefty strikeforce (3 times as strong as that provoked by the start of a city hub), and it's exorbitantly expensive.


When it finishes building a 30 minute timer starts. Your goal at this point is pretty simple: keep your home command station and the exogalactic transceiver alive until the 30 minutes is up.

The slight wrinkle is that the AI goes bananas. Every single minute, in addition to the normal "charge rate" of the exogalactic strikeforces, the current "charge" is multiplied by 1.5. The normal "intensity cap" still applies but due to the nature of the calculation the actual strikeforces could be as much as 1.5 times that strength.


In any event, if you survive until the timer hits zero... I don't think I'll spoil it for you ;) Suffice it to say that while you don't _immediately_ win (and might theoretically lose if the enemy is literally bashing your home command station already), victory is pretty much inevitable, and you don't have to take any further direct offensive action to make it happen. Winning this way is the third Fallen Spire achievement.