Should I Micromanage Ships In Battle?
Q: In most other RTS games I play, the best players are big on "microing" their units in order to get the best possible outcome of each encounter. With so many ships at once in AI War, is this even something I should attempt?
A: Well, this is your call. The "Epic/4X-like" combat style is slow enough (comparable to most other RTS games) that you can micro fairly effectively, if you so desire. Most people who play AI War play on "Normal" and there are certain players who will prefer the "Blitz" combat style, which makes microing all but impossible -- but this isn't a requirement by any means, you can play using the Epic or Normal combat styles forever, if you want.
In most other RTS games, units cannot move while attacking, and many units are melee-focused and thus cannot attack any target until they are right up next to it. There also tends to only be a few dozen units involved in any given battle, and the units tend to attack whatever is closest rather than what they are best able to hurt. We're generalizing here, of course, but these generalities of the RTS genre are what have given rise to microing among better players.
Microing is fine for most RTS games -- we are not opposed to the practice -- but we do feel that it is more of a tactical-level aspect of gameplay as opposed to a strategic level. In AI War, with so many ships in every battle, ships that can fire while moving, such an increased amount of strategic management to do, and a selection of units that are almost universally able to fire at range (cutlasses, vampires and a few other ships being the exceptions), we felt like microing was not something that should be required for expert AI War play. We wanted less emphasis on twitch reactions, and more emphasis on strategic thinking. So if you choose not to micromanage your ships during battle, they will still do a great job of selecting targets and will likely be as successful as if you had microed.
The main thing you need to manage for your ships during battle is their positioning, which we feel like is a higher-level tactic more approaching the strategy level. Determining where to best place each of your ship types is where most of your tactical management comes in (one hint: generally leave longer-ranged stuff further back, and clump fighters, bombers, etc, together in a protective position closer in). You'll also want to decide between attack-move and regular stance, whether you want to use formations or not, and you might have to micromanage the chase after enemy ships that break past the defenses on your planets. So don't feel bad if you have too much else to do to micromanage every ship's target during battle; that's how this game was designed.