AI War 2:Hacking

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Hacking is a fairly useful mechanic, involving the use of a flagship to expend Hacking Points to perform various acts on neutral or 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NOTE: This is partly outdated following version 0.900: The Arrival Of Fleets, and will have to be updated. Apologies!

Basics

Hacking consumes Hacking Points, which can only be gathered normally from player-controlled planets. Build a command station on the planet and it will rapidly gather the Hacking Points there. Each planet has 30 points. A few units such as Astro Trains and the AI Overlord will also give hacking points when killed.

Hacking is performed by flagships. When viewing a particular planet, the relevant Hacks available will be shown in the Hacking sidebar to the left, with the effect and cost of each Hack is listed. Not all ships can perform all hacks; e.g. a Lone Wolf cannot hack an ARS.

While a Hack is in progress, the hacking flagship's speed is greatly reduced and it cannot leave the planet. 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. The hack can also be aborted by clicking on the notification, but hacking points will not be refunded. When multiple flagships are present on a planet, the one closest to the target is selected for the hack.

Hacking Response

Nearly every Hack causes some form of response against you - groups of units spawned from the target unit 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). Outguard 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

Not all hacking options are listed here.
Hack Name Target Unit Hacking Point Cost Duration (Seconds) Description
Weaken AI Turrets Planet, Mk VI or lower 1 2 Hacking into the local AI network will reduce the range of AI turrets to 25% of their normal values, and their damage output to 50% of normal. Only works on planets of mark 6 or lower.
Weaken AI Guard Posts Planet, Mk VI or lower 5 2 Hacking into the local AI network will reduce the range of AI guard posts to 50% of their normal values, and their damage output to 75% of normal. Only works on planets of mark 6 or lower.
Covert Science Extraction AI Command Station 30 for 2000 Science 200 for 2000 Science This device hacks into the AI surveillance 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.
Neutral Planet Science Extraction AI Command Station 10 10 This device scans the wreckage of the AI structures on the planet to obtain Science, up to the normal amount. If you have not paid the AIP cost for this planet, AIP will go up by 5.
Watch Planet Planet 10 2 This hack deploys spy nanites that will grant you permanent vision on this planet. Can be done remotely without a hacker present.
Watch Planet (local) Planet 2 2 This hack deploys spy nanites that will grant you vision of the planet until the AI reconquers it. Only for planets without defenders. Must destroy all hostile combatants on the planet. Can be done remotely without a hacker present.
Double Ship Line Cap Fleet Capacity Extender 15 30 This will allow the player to double the cap of one of the ship lines of the hacking Flagship. After this hack is completed, the AI will launch a counterattack against you.
Grant Ship Line Advanced Research Station 15 45 Grants a new ship line to the hacking flagship. Each ARS has a choice of five ship lines to pick from.
Reroll ARS contents Advanced Research Station 15 30 This will change the ships you can get from the ARS.
Convert ARS to Science Advanced Research Station 20 45 You can disassemble the ARS in order to figure out how it works. This grants some (1,500) science but you won't get the ship line.
Grant Technology Technology Vault 30 90 This will allow the player to unlock a new Tech. Unlocking a Tech this way does not increase the cost of doing it with Science. If the contained Tech is already maxed out, the hack is wasted.
Convert Tech Vault to Science Technology Vault 10 30 You can disassemble the Tech Vault in order to figure out how it works. This grants some science (1,500) but you won't get a Tech.
Reroll Tech Vault Contents Technology Vault 20 50 This will change the Tech Line you get from this Tech Vault.
Spire Archive Extraction Spire Archive 60 300 Hacking this Spire Archive will grant you a large amount of Science, but it takes a long time. Be prepared for an extreme AI response against your units. If this hack is cancelled or interrupted, AIP will go up by 80.
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, some of which will head directly to your homeworld as an Exo-Galactic Strike. 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 Outguard Beacon Mercenary Beacon 10 225 Hacking this beacon will allow you to contact some of the Outguard -- remnant anti-AI forces that can come to your aid. Since the Outguard are subverting the AI communication channels, expect some extremely heavy AI response to this. Upon completion, your AIP will increase by 10.
Hack Ion Cannon Planet 20 2 Permanently take control of all Ion Cannons on the planet.
Hack Mass Driver Planet 23 2 Permanently take control of all Orbital Mass Drivers on the planet.
Sabotage AI defenses Varies 15 22 Kills a certain powerful AI structure on the planet. Works on things like Raid Engines, Eyes, Alarm Posts, and Orbital Mass Drivers. Does not trigger any AIP increase on death that the structure normally has.
Provoke Vengeance Strike Dark Spire Vengeance Generator 20 300 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 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?
Render Vengeance Generator Vulnerable Dark Spire Vengeance Generator 60 300 Hacking this Vengeance Generator will make it vulnerable to conventional weaponry. This is likely to provoke an extremely strong Dark Spire response
Download Dyson Ship Dyson Sphere 20 300 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 Max Strength Dyson Sphere 20 300 This Hack will increase this Dyson Sphere's max strength. It will definitely make the Dyson Sphere unhappy with you as well.
Increase Dyson Production Dyson Sphere 20 300 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 This Hack will diminish Dyson unit production. It will definitely make the Dyson unhappy with you as well.
Decode Nanobots Nanobot Hive 20 600 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.
Tame Macrophage Tellium Macrophage Tellium 60 300 Hack the mindset of a Telium on this planet, converting it to your cause. Expect it to defend itself harshly.

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.

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.