AI War 2:Hacking

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Hacking is a fairly useful mechanic, involving the use of a Hacker unit to expend Hacking Points to perform various acts on AI controlled planets and affect certain Factions, such as the Dyson Sphere or the Nanocaust, and here it's explained a bit more in depth.

NOTE: This is outdated for 0.900: The Arrival Of Fleets, and will have to be updated. Apologies!

Hacking Points

Hacking Points can only be gathered normally from planets that are not AI controlled, i.e do not have an AI Command Station on them. You can gather Hacking Points from a planet with the Hacker unit - simply move it to the planet in question, and it'll complete with a bit of time. If you own the planet, i.e have a Command Station on it, then the Station will also gather Points for you - this is purely as a convenience factor, to alleviate the annoyance of shuffling Labs to every planet you take. Hackers are the only way to get Points from a neutral planet, if you do not want to capture it for whatever reason.

Hackers are the only unit able to use this mechanic at all. When on the same planet as a possible target (i.e Mercenary Beacon or AI Command Station), the relevant Hacks will be available in the Hacking sidebar to the left. There, the effect and cost of each Hack is listed. When a Hack is in progress, the Hacker is completely immobile until it is completed, and the remaining time left is displayed on the top in a similar fashion to Wave Warnings. If the Hacker is destroyed mid-way, the Hack is cancelled and must be restarted.

Hacking Response

Nearly every Hack causes some form of response against you - groups of units spawned to try and stop the Hack. The faction that responds is usually the one that controls the thing you are hacking (i.e an AI Command Station will respond with AI units, but hacking the Nanocaust responds with a very scary response of entirely Nanocaust units). Mercenary Beacons are an oddity, and will cause an AI response instead. The Dark Spire do not respond normally, but the force that the Provoked Vengeance Strike spawns somewhat acts like it.

Generally, there are both small, frequent "pulses" of units spawned during a Hack, as well as less frequent and larger pulses. In addition, actually completing the Hack fully has an extra response at the end as well.

Hack Options

Hack Name Target Unit Hacking Point Cost Duration (Seconds) Game's Description
Covert Science Extraction AI Command Station 30 for 2000 Science 200 Seconds for 2000 Science This device hacks into the AI survellance net and data archives in the local planetary system to obtain Science, up to the normal amount. It costs 30 hacking points to fully complete. Be prepared for an AI response against your units.
Swap Schematic Server Schematic Server 20 300 Seconds By injecting energy pulses into the Schematic Server, you can cause the AI to store a new design in this Schematic Server.
Download Fleetship Design Design Backup Server 40 300 Seconds You can hack the Design Template Server to download the master design plans for a new fleetship type for your own use.
Corrupt Fleetship Design Design Backup Server 30 300 Seconds You can hack the Design Template Server to corrupt the master design plans for a fleetship type. You won't get anything, but the AI can't use it anymore, either!
Subvert Super Terminal Super Terminal 1 Per Second Until Halted The longer you hold on, the more you'll reduce (AIP), but you'll also cause a massive incursion of AI forces while doing it. Careful not to kill yourself by holding on too long. You only get one shot at this hack before the AI adapts, so make it count.
Access Mercenary Beacon Mercenary Beacon 5 120 Seconds Hacking this beacon will allow you to contact some of the Mercenaries. Since the Mercenaries are subverting the AI communication channels, expect a powerful AI response to this hack.
Provoke Vengeance Strike Dark Spire Vengeance Generator 20 300 Seconds Finishing this Hack will cause the Dark Spire to launch a Vengeance Strike, wherein every Vengeance Generator will simultaneously launch a fleet to attack, well, everything.
Download Dark Spire Ship Design Dark Spire Vengeance Generator 20 300 Seconds Hacking this Vengeance Generator will give you access to one of the Dark Spire's ship designs. But it might have devastating consequences; are you willing to set a fire upon the deep?
Download Dyson Ship Dyson Sphere 20 300 Seconds Hacking the Dyson sphere will give you access to one of the Dyson Sphere's ship designs, but it will make the Dyson Sphere very unhappy with you.
Increase Dyson Production Dyson Sphere 20 300 Seconds This Hack will improve Dyson unit production. It will definitely make the Dyson Sphere unhappy with you as well.
Decrease Dyson Production Dyson Sphere 20 300 Seconds This Hack will diminish Dyson unit production. It will definitely make the Dyson unhappy with you as well.
Decode Nanobots Nanobot Hive 20 600 Seconds Hack the core Nanobot Hive in order to subvert them into being your allies. From then on, the hive will devote all of its energy to destroying the AI.

Opinions And More Detail

Covert Science Extraction

This one is very useful, allowing you to gain the Science from a planet without raising AI Progress for it. It costs more than most Hacks however, so overdoing it can limit your options elsewhere, but in general it has a universally useful reward.

Swap Schematic Server

Have a Server you can capture, but you don't like or need what's in it? Swap it to something else that you might like better! No guarantee though. These will always give a similar type to what was in it (i.e a Turret Server will always give Turrets no matter how many times you swap). Generally, this is useful if you want to try and get a particular ship to fill in a composition, but so far haven't found it. Sometimes though, it might not be worth using this, and it'll be better to do what you can with what was in the Server already.

Download Fleetship Design

So sometimes the AI unlocks a new Fleetship it can use, if AI Progress has increased enough over a threshold. When it does, it spawns a Design Backup Server for it. If it's something that can be very useful for your own use, it can be pretty good to nab it, though beware the rather steep cost of 40 Points. In addition, if it's a particularly nasty unit such as Sentinel Frigates, having it for yourself is nice, but perhaps removing it from the AIs toolbox can be far better, with the next Hack - you cannot both Download and Corrupt the same design. It should be noted that there is no benefit from getting a duplicate ship design from either a Schematic Server or a Design Backup.

Corrupt Fleetship Design

Instead of Downloading the Design, you can Corrupt it! This has the effect of removing the ability of the AI to ever construct that unit again. It'll still have the ones it bought previously, but that count will never grow. As noted above, this can be really good on units that are obnoxiously powerful in the AI hands (simply because it can have far more of them than you can) such as the Sentinel Frigate, or near useless on something like the Sniper, which only has any notable effect if your fleet is composed of rather speedy types. Note that you can also use this to shift the AIs unit composition around, if this particular unit is not one you can currently counter, which can be far cheaper than acquiring then upgrading the right tool for it.

Subvert Super Terminal

A very strange hack! This one only ends when either the Hacker dies, or you run out of Points to do it with. Each second you pay 1 Point to reduce the AI Progress by 0.5. Each time the AI sends a response pulse, the next pulse will be stronger, so this can get very scary if done long enough. This can only be done once, and it is very pricey, but in effect you are reducing the AIs power overall, which could be very well worth the expenditure.

Access Mercenary Beacon

Very cheap and very quick relative to the others. This lets you hire the Mercenary groups listed in the Beacon description. Mercenaries can be a handy temporary power boost, to help win a difficult fight, or be a distraction elsewhere. However, each group also costs some Hacking Points of varying amounts, so the cost can be a bit deceiving. Group power scales with the current AI Progress, so this is something you can have prepared for later.

Provoke Vengeance Strike

A very sneaky hack. As each spawn a Generator does causes it to get nastier, this lets you "feed" a particular Generator to absurd levels. The Dark Spire can be useful in defeating the AI, but can also cause you a lot of bother yourself, so be careful about poking them with this. If you intend to use them in that way, this can be a very useful Hack.

Download Dark Spire Ship Design

This gives you the Wraith unit as a fleetship. This is one of the cheapest ways currently of gaining a new, guaranteed ship type via Hacking, but it has dire consequences for the galaxy. Once completed, the Dark Spire will begin gaining energy over time, even with no combat near Vengeance Generators. Like above, this can be useful in having the Dark Spire do your work for you, but it can get very much out of hand, and you can't stop the effect.

Download Dyson Ship

This will give you the Dyson Defender unit as a fleetship. This is also one of the cheapest ways currently of gaining a new, guaranteed ship type via Hacking, but the response is terrifying. Even starting this causes every ship controlled by that Dyson Sphere to revert to hostile and attack you, anywhere in the galaxy. Completing it is even worse, as the Sphere will become Antagonised, and spawn ships at an incredible rate, all of whom are very very angry at you, for a few minutes. In terms of what you pay and what you get, this is pretty good...but it can easily be game ending. Sentient stars are not to be messed with.

Increase Dyson Production

Simply put, this makes that Sphere start spawning ships at a faster rate overall. You can keep doing this to stack the effects, which can make the Sphere rather strong, but the response to each Hack is the same as above, and the Sphere usually spreads its ships out, and is capped by the current AI Progress, so unless it's in a useful area, and not for instance stuck in a corner of the galaxy, this won't be super worthwhile.

Diminish Dyson Production

The opposite to the above one. If for some reason (such as controlling the Spheres territory, which angers it) you want to make the Sphere weaker, this is how you do it. It's a pretty niche thing, but it's there. In future, the AI can Antagonise the Sphere intentionally, so if you have that possibility on the horizon, preparing for it with this Hack may be a wise choice.

Decode Nanobots

The longest duration Hack in the game currently, other than a ludicrously long Super Terminal, taking 600 seconds to complete, with a terrifying response. In return though, that Nanocaust faction will immediately ally with you. You can now go through all the planets it has captured, hoover up all the Science and Hacking Points lying around, and generally have a very safe area to operate in, not to mention all the firepower they can bring. This is usually *very* difficult, but the reward can be incredible. Should be noted, that while Factions that are allied to you in game setup increase your AI Progress instead of their own, a hacked Nanocaust will not, so you are not penalised for this Hack.