AI War:Securing Your Hinterland
How Do I Secure The Area Around My Planets?
Q: First, I just don't know how to "leave a planet uncaptured" safely. As soon as I was able to survive all the waves of incoming ships, I killed all the warp gates near me (save one). Then, we picked the "remaining warp gate" planet and strongly reinforced the wormhole there. Then, we went on an expansion spree, where our intent was to kill the remaining scary warp gates and leave the orbital command posts.
A: That sounds good, actually -- also killing the Special Forces Guard Posts that are near your planets can make it so that you have fewer ships wandering into your planets. Bear in mind that as you expand your flanks become increasingly exposed, but keeping the number of wave ingress points down is important. This doesn't protect against cross-planet attacks or ships that have retreated and who then reenter your planets at a different point, though, so be sure not to leave any wormholes bordering enemy/neutral territory completely undefended.
Q: I find it very difficult to feel confident in the security of my home planet -- too many enemy ships keep showing up, and some of them get past my wormhole defenses. What can I do?
A: It's very difficult to have perfect security on a planet unless you completely take all of the adjacent planets. Then those bear the brunt of warps. For players who are turtles by nature, starting with a small number of hostile wormholes and then taking all of the adjacent planets is usually the best way to feel comfortable. Bear in mind that on advanced difficulties the AI will still sometimes slip through to your home planet, but it is less of a risk. Having multiple layers of force fields over your home command station can also give a good degree of security, but just watch out for ships that are able to pass (and fire) through them.
Q: I've killed all of the guard posts on a planet, as well as the warp gate, but I left the command station ("neutering" the planet as the community calls it). Somehow the AI still built up a sizable force, at this planet. What gives?
A: If you don't kill the command station, it will keep reinforcing at the command station itself and at the wormholes. You'll want to kill the command station if this causes too many problems for you.
Also a possibility, consider putting up a token number of turrets or other defenses there. Generally a few turrets will deal with the minor reinforcements early game in a low priority system. This may not work in, say, a mk4 planet however.
Q: So, how do you deal with having a non-owned sector just sitting right there in the middle of your planets? How do you keep it secure for travel, etc?
A: The only way to do that is to kill the command station. Then the planet can be non-owned by anyone, which has the benefit of not opening you up for raids (and that it is relatively safe for travel, except whatever happens to wander through), but the downside that you don't get the resources there, and yet you upped the AI Progress by 20 by destroying the station (and warp gate). Trying to keep the AI Progress too low is not needed, in my opinion, except for extremely advanced play (for instance, on difficulty 10 I can't think of any other way that someone could possibly win).
For regular advanced/intermediate play, I would expect the players to take 20-30 planets on an 80 planet map, with all of the AI Progress increases that entails. Whether the players choose to actually occupy all said planets, or whether they take some of them and then leave them empty as buffer planets, depends on the map and the players. Some advanced players prefer to take fewer planets and behave as more of a "deep raider," but this is neither required nor recommended for new players.