Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Star Wars Empire at War AEM 5.1 - Part III

Hello friends,

Today we return to a galaxy far, far away. And specifically to the alternate universe our Rebellion carries forward in.

In this update, we experience more of the sensual joy of suicidal cannon-fodder tactics, and begin the slow morph from Rebellion with no equipment and a shoestring budget into a bona fide military force capable of fighting the Galactic Empire.

We move our forces to Wayland. I have hazy memories of I think this battle. I expect it to be hell.

On the plus side, we have enough ground units that we can spam our way through any resistance. Right now, that's the closest our Rebellion has to actual tactics.

Yeah, see, this description is NOT making me feel better about this.

Rebel Soldier: Area looks clear. The Imperial Uplink should be just up ahead.

C-3PO: Oh dear! This humidity will certainly not be good for my circuits...

Neither will my boot, goldenrod...

Artoo: *beeps*

Antilles: Cut the chatter you two. The soonder you get to that terminal, the sooner we can all get out of here.

Yeahhhh. That's an AT-ST. Can we find anywhere else?

I don't know why, but I have a hunch the game expects this to be our first ground battle in the Rebel campaign.

We got a free unit of Rebel Soldiers for starting this mission. I bring down two more of those, three of Plex troopers, and four of T2-B tanks.

Overview. The dots are our infantry.

I think it's time to break tradition. I know I normally scout with infantry I don't care about, but we're scouting with our full armored fist now. We have enough tanks in reserve that we can do this substantially more effective thing.

Rebel Soldier: They've got turrets around the perimeter. Spread out to disperse their fire.

Not a bad tactic if I was sending infantry against this turret. Because we're using T2-Bs, the ideal tactic is more like "run up right next to it".

Also, the game reminds me Artoo can steal turrets. However, Artoo is a mission-critical unit and some random anti-infantry turret is not worth jeopardizing the mission. Plus...

Our minimap opens up.


Let's chat about AT-STs. In vanilla Empire at War, the AT-ST is roughly lateral to the T2-B, which is roughly lateral to the 2-M and the TIE Mauler both in terms of overall combat statistics and in general utility. In comparison to the rest, the AT-ST had low firepower, but decent defense and an area-effect attack. Functionally, the only practical purpose to the AT-ST was to kill anti-infantry turrets and get shot at in lieu of other Imperial units. Campaign levels were created and balanced in the vanilla game, around the vanilla game.

AEM 5.1 changes things around. Now, tank-type units are organized into three distinct tiers. For the rebels, those tiers are T2-B, T3-B, and T4-B. T2-Bs have shields and hover, but have the worst damage and health whereas T4-Bs are tracked, unshielded and the slowest but have awesome damage and health. T3-Bs are somewhere in the middle - slower than the T2-B, faster than the T4-B, but with enough firepower to make 2-Ms and TIE Maulers eat their own shoes.

AT-STs are on the T3-B tier. Due to the conceits of the AEM system, this means AT-STs are purpose-built to counter T2-B tanks. Hence why one took down one of our shields in seconds. This could very well be bloody, but our infantry would take longer and we have the tanks to burn right now.

Rebel soldier: Hurry up! They managed to get out a distress call! Get to the uplink!

Oh  yeah, I'm so worried about that. I'm sure Captain Antilles and the fleet will deal with any reinforcements that might show up. We have orbital superiority, you numbskull! I'm sure that Alderaanian army-can will intercept any transports.

Next couple of AT-STs down. Also some stormtroopers and scout troopers.

Finally. We have several dead tanks and a bunch of damaged ones, but we got past the enemy.

So, tactical usage of T2-Bs. In vanilla, T2-Bs are one of only two Rebel direct-fire vehicles, period. T2-Bs have the shield health and mobility to outmaneuver most Imperial counters, and while their guns are meant for infantry, the Rebels usually have enough of them to overrun other targets. Rebels don't have other options, so we make sure our strategies work for T2-Bs. The T2-B ability is to "Hunt for enemies" which would be a lot more useful if they didn't split up to do it. Far better to use the poor woman's Hunt For Enemies, attack-move.

In AEM 5.1, the T2-B is on the hovertank vehicle tier along with the Imperial 2-M Repulsor tank. These vehicles are fast, shielded, and hover over bad terrain making them indispensable on some planets. They're also good against infantry. The 2-M is better than the T2-B, but not by much and is also more expensive. However, in terms of combat vehicles, they both suffer against dedicated tank-type units.

Last red unit on the map right now.

Hovertanks have fully rotating turrets and shields, so feel free to charge laser-using targets you outnumber enough.

I have a bad feeling about this.

I have a less bad feeling now, thanks.

We spend a few moments gathering our forces.

And making sure the real power of the Rebel army is prepared for engagement.

Of course, Artoo has this ability so why WOULDN'T we use it?

This is also making me nervous. We're sending the blaster infantry to scout this landing zone and take control of it.

So, that's step one...

A small bit of attention to detail that I love in this game is that if you zoom in on a landing zone while it's being captured, the faction symbol is slowly being put together above the site.

Hmm. My scripted reinforcements senses are tingling!

Off-camera, we built a second anti-vehicle turret. I don't think I can delay doing this any longer.

I just love the graphics. It's like I'm looking at the real thing!

C-3PO: Artoo has plugged into the network. It will take a few minutes to change the codes.

But we're totally safe during that time, right?

Rebel Soldier: Incoming Imperial Transport shuttles spotted to the southwest!

Wait, what?!?

Let's see... stormtroopers and AT-STs.

Directly to the south, too. Our fighters should have stopped this!

The Imperials know exactly what they're doing. Their AT-STs march right past the turret even as it shoots them.

Nothing for it.

The AT-STs are distracted, but the presence of physical opposition slows them down.

C-3PO: We don't care about their security protocols! Just finish your task you bucket of bolts!

I concur. Somebody is either a traitor or fired, but we have to get off this planet to find out!

Troop landing in the northwest too. Just Stormtroopers.

I am a badass predictive goddess of war!

This got hectic. The AT-STs from the south marched right past that turret, taking potshots all the way, and scored multiple hits on the droids. The tanks and Plex dealt with them, but the droids are actually hurt.

The portraits in the upper right of the screen show our heroes for the battle, and they have their own healthbar. Incidentally, if I click on that portrait, I select the droids.

We stomp over the remaining stormtroopers with our remaining tanks.

C-3PO: He says he's almost done. Oh, do hurry, Artoo!

Hmm? Oh, no rush.

C-3PO: He's done it! The data has been uploaded!

I blame myself for having him do the ENTIRE fleet instead of just, say, a small strike force.

Antilles: Nice work, you two! Everyone, get to a landing zone and get out of here!

Wait. YOU were listening? Ah. I guess this explains why we got swamped with Imperials, ya dick.

Fortunately, we have a landing zone we can use right nearby. So we start marching.

Interesting note: Artoo & Threepio capture build pads and landing zones like infantry, but they're healed with repair stations like vehicles. This is vanilla behavior, and has strategic implications.

This is a special plot map, so we're never gonna see these turrets again. Sell them before you leave. We spent 90 credits on them, and that crook of a wholesaler only gave us 35 for the two that survived. But it's better than losing all of our money.

Most units at the landing zone. In a normal game, if you retreat from a land battle, you get a countdown timer. At the end of the timer, any units outside the landing zone are gone forever.

Rebel Solder: R2-D2 is ready for retrieval. Good job!

C-3PO: We did it! We did it!

And people run for their transports.

And we get our butts back in space where we belong.

Huh. I don't recall seeing any TIE Maulers.


Antilles: With the sensors blind to our ships, we should be able to sneak rightdown to Fresia and grab those X-Wings.

Rebel Pilot: You sure the sensors are gone?

Antilles: Only one way to find out. Assemble the troops and let's go!

Yeah. Order of business first, though.

2,300 credits for this dumpy backwater?!?

And a cool speed boost for some medium and heavy vehicles.

Let's get Mon Mothma over to do our whole space station construction thing.

Okay. Let's get rolling.

After we queue more T2-Bs.

And we're leading with the space force. Because I don't give a crap. Stealth missions go a lot better when there's a bunch of starships overhead.

Antilles: There's no alarm on any Imperial comm channel. We're clear. Move out, team.

Most powerful garrison unit: AT-ST. And two of each kind of unit for four units. That's a substantial garrison.

Fresia's planet info.

If we don't take it in the plot mission, we're going to take it normally. Global production bonus for A-Wings is awesome, plus two unique starfighter squadrons, and a unique land unit.

On top of that, look at that map. That's gonna be hell to fight on, and I'd prefer not to.

We actually have enough tanks to use them aggressively.

Yeah. Does "Heavily guarded" mean there's two tin cans on the warning chime instead of one?

Antilles: There's your target! Get the pilots to those X-Wings!

Oh no. Oh hell no. Oh hell fucking no. A Turbolaser tower?!?

Power generator...

Okay. Two Turbolaser towers positioned to provide mutual support.

So, Turbolaser towers. In vanilla, Turbolaser towers are expensive buildings which require a factory, and upon completion spawn 2-5 towers in pre-determined locations on the tactical ground map. Vanilla Turbolaser towers are lethal to light vehicles and fight on even terms with heavy vehicles, but aren't very good against infantry at all. Does this sound worth following the tech pre-requisites and spending a lot of money to you?

In AEM, Turbolaser towers come in groups of 5-8, and have a substantial buff to accuracy, range, and fire rate. In addition, they are now the ultimate vehicle-killers and no matter how powerful your vehicles, going toe-to-toe with Turbolaser towers is a bad idea. They retain their inability to fire at targets right next to them, but most of these towers provide mutual cover. The only real weaknesses of AEM Turbolaser towers are bombing runs and that they artillery using spotters can engage them from outside their sight range, but not their weapon range.

In both iterations, Turbolaser towers can be shut down by destroying the power generator. In vanilla, this isn't always worth the hassle. In AEM, it always is.

Suffice to say, we are NOT pushing through two mutually supporting Turbolaser towers with infantry and T2-Bs, regardless of our numbers. Plus, I'm trying to cut back on sacrificing minions to solve problems.

These are our Rebel pilots. They're ridiculously weak one-person to a squad infantry and if they all die we lose the mission. How many survive does affect the ending cinematic of this mission.

We start calling down units. We have something new this mission. Or rather, something old.

Notice we can only call down five units at once. Ordinarily, in Empire at War, the attacker is limited sharply based on the number of landing zones they control. AEM mostly does away with this limitation, but it still exists in some campaign levels.

We need to prioritize which units are most important to us. I pick three tanks, and two blaster infantry.

An enemy tank arrives to annoy us as we unload units. Without our first unit being a T2-B, using the method I've described to guarantee the first unit in a level, we would only have four tanks opposing this one. We might even take damage.

Another tank shows up, and they attempt to pull us back into the Turbolaser towers. But we keep our forces under control.

Incidentally, the fact that there's forces threatening the integrity of the first landing zone long before our troops can fully unload from our transports is exactly why the "limited attacking units" conceit, though interesting, doesn't really work. An organized defender with all ten units available, plus garrison units, could immediately rush the attacker's landing zone and win by default against a far superior force... and since bombing runs take time to charge, the attacker might not be able to anything about it short of attempting multiple landings until enough attrition is inflicted to the defender's permanent units that the attacker can deploy something like actual forces.

Some Stormtroopers show up. Stormtroopers can actually capture landing zones - 2-Ms can only shoot our units - so if we weren't on the ball, we could have lost the mission outright.

Several more Stormtrooper squads, and another 2-M.

It makes sense to station hovertanks on a world with so much water. The standard Fresia map, like Kuat, has multiple islands that can't be accessed by landlocked units.

We're starting to take a real beating from the back and forth with enemy tanks.

Fortunately, we're better at concentrating our forces, so they're taking a worse beating.

Hah! The AI flanked us. You see those people to the south? Our pilots. We just stopped a squad of Stormtroopers that would have executed our pilots and caused us to lose the mission that way.

We're bringing down Artoo and Threepio. A lot of players don't find them useful in tactical battles, but we have no build pads around here and we NEED to keep the tanks in order for attacking and defending. We may be able to afford to lose tanks, but we should stretch them as far as we can. Plus, they can capture things.

Bombing run almost ready. We'll get the infantry moving West. This was a mistake of mine.

More Stormtroopers here...

And here. But there's a world of difference between Stormtroopers happening across disorganized Rebel soldiers, and a military force actively hunting bucketheads.

Case in point. The Empire are classic bullies. They like dishing it out, but they can't take it when their intended victims are armed.

Shooting first is the most important tip to winning infantry battles in AEM. So is concentrating your forces

We've cut through quite a few Stormtroopers now.

We keep pushing. I get overconfident here.

Another single squad of stormtroopers vs a bunch of tanks.

More dead Stormtroopers.

And more dead Stormtroopers.

There's a landing zone right up to the north of us. We take it, we can bring in more reinforcements. It's also right near the power generator, and our bombing run is ready.

If we blow the power generator -

This TIE Mauler drove straight through our formation. We notice it turning red, so we start shooting. If we kill it before it detonates...


Soldiers with blaster rifles just don't have that kind of firepower. This guy is dead, I'm sure of it.

...We bring in more infantry. We have infantry to spare.

...Apparently, that TIE Mauler left the oven on or something, cause she didn't kill the last remaining Rebel Soldier.

Yet another 2-M tank. Notice our infantry being helpless while disembarking.

Okay, new plan, that sucks less. The infantry hold this position while the fast-moving units that are difficult to kill and aren't slowed down by water make the attack.

This is a classic major tactical blunder of mine. T2-Bs wouldn't have been seriously threatened by either TIE Maulers or Stormtroopers, would have completed the attack much faster, and would have been capable of running away from Mauler suicide attacks. Infantry are just too slow to get away.

Kind of like on Kuat when I didn't have the infantry break cover and run away from the Scout Trooper's bomb.

The Sole Survivor moves forward. The Sole Survivor is about to make a major contribution to this battle.

We bring the pilots up behind the tanks. This way, if the infantry are overrun, we have the ability to run away some before being immediately caught and killed. Every second might count.

The Sole Survivor displays a class ability of infantry that does not depend on squad unit numbers.

Tip for those playing along at home: A lone infantry soldier is more dangerous than a lone tank, because a lone tank is only as powerful as itself. A lone infantry soldier can multiply her power by capturing build pads and reinforcement points.

Sometimes, you can defeat tons of attackers or defenders just by taking turrets or landing zones.

Note: I am not saying a lone tank isn't powerful. Sometimes, if it's just the right situation, you only need one tank. But more often, it's turrets and landing zones.

Although the most reliable way is to bring a dozen tanks and back them up with infantry to capture build pads.

We go all the way up to 16 tanks. We have enough tanks to perform serious armored assaults.

Eyes on the generator! Bring in Gold Squadron!

Y-Wing: Attack run complete, target is destroyed.

With our new unit capacity, we drop some anti-tank troopers at the first landing zone.

With the Turbolaser towers down and reinforcements available, the odds of being forced to retreat are very low, so we move the Rebel Pilots back towards the infantry.

Anti-infantry turrets and stormtroopers are no match for this many tanks.

No, not even three squads of stormtroopers.

Stormtrooper armor is actually pretty decent. They're surviving the first hit just fine. It's the rate of fire that gets them.

Forward! I want to hit them with my sword!


Infantry, advance! This time it's actually fine. The Turbolaser towers are off.

Artoo! We need you!

Fine, you can bring Threepio too.

Stormtroopers. Nothing a little attack-move can't handle.

They're defending pretty well, though...

The Plex Troopers catch up.

They're better at damaging the Turbolaser towers than the blaster infantry. We technically don't need to blow the towers up but...

Actually, no. I WANT to blow the towers up. Therefore we need to blow the towers up.

There's that TIE Mauler again! I guess she's done hiding from us.

She runs over half a squad before she's brought down.

Let's try the tank thing again. Actually, no, screw the tanks.

Umm, no. Not literally. My tanks need to stop texting.

Y-Wing: Confirming, bringing apocalypse to the nativ - wait. Did you do this just for the one anti-vehicle turret? Do you have ANY IDEA how expensive this giant fuckload of bombs is?!?

More troopers, regrouping with our infantry.

Artoo, fix this!

NOW we'll have the tanks move out.

Geez, another one? Ugh. It'd be mildly more inconvenient to wait for the bombers as compared to overrunning the turret.

Lost a tank!

The Command Center is normally a skirmish-only structure. It does nothing here, so we don't need to blow it up.

Oh look! Pinatas!


Maybe I should stop calling Antilles a cowardly tourniquet.

Then, perhaps one day when I am old and gray, OUR SPACE FORCES WILL INTERCEPT ENEMY TROOP TRANSPORTS.

I don't know what the hell is unloading, but it can't defend itself and that's good enough for me!

AT-STs. Glad we killed them this way.

Regroup, move on to the next target.

An Officer Academy? UGH. THIS MAKES ME SO MAD!


Oh, right. The enemy still holds the landing zone. Well, we know our space forces are too busy bathing in barbecue sauce or something to do their jobs, so let's see if Artoo can do something. He always seems to have the right tool for the job.

Hey! Artoo can reprogram the holoprojector so it looks Rebellious!

...This is a stupid plan. There's no way the Empire is falling for this.

On the other hand, they placed one Turbolaser tower where it could only do something after the enemy beats two Turbolaser towers, so...

The tower is off, so we don't need to blow it up.

What? Did you expect restraint from me at this point?

We move the pilots up from the first landing zone. Call me paranoid, but we're not sending them straight to the X-Wings.

Oh look. Two anti-infantry turrets and a squad of Stormtroopers.

This is so unfair. I think it scorched the paint on one of my tanks.

Now we have the tanks clear out. The northern landing zone is now the closest, so we're going there in preparation to fall back.

We have Artoo repair something.

Almost there...

Rebel Pilot: Abort! Abort launch sequence! I'm detecting anti-aircraft turrets all over the area!

What fresh inanity is this?!?

Antilles: They're going to get destroyed out there! Take out those anti-aircraft turrets!

Right, let's destroy the turret - What the hell?

Seriously? The turrets are not operational.

Look, there's scaffolding and everything. You can just leave right now!

Look, I'll prove it to you.

Y-Wing: This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy, but I'm more afraid of her than I am of death, this is crazy...oh hey. We're alive!

You may have noticed that the Y-Wings have come from different parts of the map. Basically, bombers always come from the furthest edge of the map from the target spot. If you're careful, you can sometimes control a bomber's angle of ingress...and it's hard for the defender to predict a bomber's flight path.

A bunch of scout troopers charge my tanks. Sure. Whatever works for you.

At this point, I don't think the troop transports the space forces aren't engaging are even worth commenting on.

Ugh. See?!? You dilly-dallied and doodled on the dashboard, and now we have to destroy these things because they're fully de-non-constructed.

The infantry take their sweet fucking time destroying these turrets while the tanks bleed and die for them.

Rebel Pilot: All turrets cleared. Let's get these ships out of here!

I'm not talking to you.

Antilles: Time to retire those Z-95s! These X-Wings should be able to handle anything the Empire can send at us.

Oh, you poor optimistic fool.

Remember how I said the pilots we saved would affect the ending cutscene? If we'd saved fewer than four pilots, fewer X-Wings would have taken off. In addition, how many pilots we save is how many free squadrons of X-Wings we get.

Ugh. That was...hell.

Mon Mothma: Those craft may help us but I fear for the citizens of Fresia and Incom's scientists. The Empire may make an example of them to keep other systems in line...

Antilles: Well, then we start planning on defending Fresia. We can't let that happen.

Just because I agree with you doesn't make me less pissed at you.

Mon Mothma: I'm afraid we can't do that. If the Alliance is to survive, we must choose our targets wisely. That way we have a chance of clearing the Imperial oppression from all the systems, not just Fresia.

Really? How likely are people to help us if we leave them to burn?

Antilles: We should strike back immediately! We can show the Fresians they are not alone.

Whoa, whoa. What's this "Immediately" stuff? I have confidence in our starfighters, but we'll be at a disadvantage against the Imperial fleet if we don't have capital ships of some description.

Mon Mothma: We cannot turn our back on those that helped us. But we cannot afford to attack the Empire head-on. The time may be right to strike against them in another way.

Isn't attacking the Empire head-on what we did with Kuat - oh, right. We lost almost all our troops. Good point.

Mon Mothma: Transmissions we've intercepted indicate that many of the captured scientists will be transferred to Kessel. We must not leave them to die in the darkness of the spice mines.

Okay. Kessel is a much smaller planet. And I'm sure a lot of the slaves there are ready to revolt against the Empire. If we can incite a revolt with a small strike force, that should give us enough of a tactical advantage to win the space battle even without capital ships...

Antilles: If we can get to those shuttles during the transfer, we may be able to pull the prisoners right out from under the Empire's nose!

...Or, you know, we can just play for pennies and bits of string instead of diamonds.

Okay. Let's just take stock of what we have for a moment.

Our first priority is disobeying Mon Mothma. According to my strategic assessment, we should be able to defend Fresia without weakening our commitments elsewhere.

Fresia is a world with as much credit income as Alderaan, and multiple unique space units for the Rebellion, as well as a useful unique ground unit. And a global production cost reduction for powerful A-Wing squadrons.

For right now, we're stacking mining facilities on its surface.

Alright. Let's get ready to go to Kessel. We have a problem, though. When we first drop out, the game tries to evenly spread your units among the different classes you have, and among the different types inside those classes.

Right here, we have three classes - fighters, bombers, and corvettes. We only have one corvette type, but we have two fighter types and two bomber types. This would normally be fine, except that we need the Ion Cannon special ability for the Kessel mission, and only one of our bomber types has it. However, we'd drop out of hyperspace with both bomber types even though one would be a liability to us near Kessel.

So we're going to do something like this. Move Y-Wings from the ground force to the strike fleet, and move ARC-170s from the strike fleet to a third fleet. This way, we only have one bomber type to spawn in, so our bomber class should be full of units that can use the special ability we need.

ARC-170s are units unique to AEM. They serve as a low-tier bomber for the Rebellion, and spawn with Z-95s at Rebel level one space stations. They have less damage and defense than Y-Wings, and lack the Ion Cannon Attack ability. ARC-170s are cheaper than Y-Wings, however.

Blah blah blah. Use Y-Wings to disable defenseless shuttles, collect with the Sundered Heart.

Our fleet is large. We need it to be.

Honestly, reading this, I can only think of how much I wanna cash in on Kessel.

Antilles: Looks like the convoy is already on the move. Those shuttles are our targets. Y-Wing squads, use your ion cannons to disable them!

He means "Supreme Commander, micro-manage the Y-Wings".

We group the ships up. Fighters in 1, corvettes in 2, Y-Wings in 3, and the Sundered Heart in 4. Even though I could just click on the portrait up there.

Ugh. Acclamator Assault ships.

TIE Interceptors are another AEM ship. They're basically strictly stronger than TIE fighters, but still lack shields. Z-95s already struggle with TIE fighters, so...this'll be fun.

Acclamators in AEM are tier II frigates. That adds up to us being outclassed in multiple ways - it's a capital ship, AND it's a more technologically advanced capital ship.

Fortunately, the Interceptors outpace their capital ship.

Yeah. This is going to end really badly for my Z-95s. Even with corvette support and overwhelming numbers.

We weaken the Acclamator's weapons. We can't afford to have the Y-Wings focus on it, so we just have the fighters and corvettes attack it. They'll overwhelm it eventually.

I spoke too soon. We have a few seconds, and so blow up its engines.

See? We can overrun frigates with numbers. I don't prefer it, but we do this sort of thing ALL THE TIME on the ground, why NOT in space?

The Rebel pilots report in when the shuttles are disabled.

Antilles reports when he rescues each individual prisoner shuttle. It's actually annoying.

Another Acclamator. We launch an all-out attack.

A bunch of Imperial fighters show up.

We finally start breaking through the Acclamator's defenses.

Mon Mothma: Two Star Destroyers have just entered the system. You must finish the rescue before they engage our forces.

Antilles: And I suppose that's the good news?

Two Victory Star Destroyers. In the base game, this wouldn't be a problem. Here, each of those is carrying some advanced fighters and bombers and I really don't want to annoy right now.

Antilles: We've picked up all of the prisoners! Everyone, retreat to hyperspace! Let's get out of here before the Empire brings in the big guns.

Rescued off-screen, of course, because it's a rehash of the thing we just did.

A lovely shot of our fleet retreating to hyperspace.

Apparently, none of those ships counted. Aside form ours.

Mon Mothma: The rescued Incom scientists have provided us with a wealth of scientific knowledge that will benefit all of the Rebellion. We are fortunate to have them on our side.

Scientific knowledge? Does this mean...

Mon Mothma: However, the Empire appears to have more in store for us. Whispers are circulating of a superweapon that is in development at this very moment. Many in the Empire believe this weapon will bring about an end to the Alliance once and for all.

Antilles: If this weapon exists, we'll find it, and destroy it!

Yeah, good luck. You'd need to be a Jedi to have those kinds of reflexes and make that kind of shot.

Mon Mothma: We can only hope it will be all that easy. While we look into these rumors, we receive more cries of help from nearby systems. We must take steps to assist them against the Empire.

In exchange for tribute, right?

Antilles: Artoo, I think we have need of your services.

Good goddess, can you all just shut up?

C-3PO: We are happy to assist in any-

Antilles: That's great, Threepio. The Alliance needs to know more about what the Imerials are up to, and Artoo's ability to interpret the network is the best way to get that information.

C-3PO: Oh dear. Will it be dangerous?

Looky, tanks that finished building!

Antilles: Relax, Threepio. You'll overload your circuits and we don't have time for you to be out of commission.

Relax, babies. Mommy's got you.



First up: Where Mon Mothma currently is. AKA, Fresia.

Long Range Scanners are special space station upgrades which allow us to see fleets coming for this planet AND grant a bunch of sight in tactical combat. In short, all of our border worlds need one.

X-Wing squadrons are the iconic Rebel fighter from the iconic movie. Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Now's as good a time as any to talk about the X-Wing.

In vanilla, the X-Wing is the base Rebel fighter. It's worth any two TIE fighter squadrons in combat, has shields, and quite a lot of firepower for a starfighter. Additionally, it can switch between a high movement mode and a high firepower mode. In movement mode, it's the fastest space combat unit, and in firepower mode...it's itself. In the base game, it's not terribly uncommon for X-Wings to punch out anything short of a Star Destroyer if they get to engagement range. This is compounded by the suckiness of the Empire's anti-starfighter units. Simply put, X-Wings in the base game are not invulnerable, but they require a herculean effort for the Empire to kill.

In AEM, X-Wings have been toned down, and thank the goddess for that. They're still stronger than TIE fighters, but not by as much. Furthermore, all starfighters are less effective against capital ships as compared to starbombers, and fighters deal more damage and have less health. But the most important part is the Empire now has reliable advanced fighters - such as the TIE Interceptor - that can go toe-to-toe with the X-Wing, and advanced anti-starfighter corvettes that can actually punch through an X-Wing's shields.

While it wasn't possible to spam X-Wings and kill absolutely everything in the base game, They were still ludicrously effective for their cost, unit class, and ease of access, and were one of the most imbalanced parts of Empire at War.

Incidentally, Forces of Corruption fixed this by giving later Imperial ships TIE Interceptors that could fight X-Wings even if they weren't as good.

Moving on. Marauder Cruisers are a type I've never gotten used to using well. These are essentially space artillery, firing slow-moving missiles at targets far away. They have a natural role sieging space stations, but I've found them to be unreliable at best against other types of targets.

I certainly haven't had any difficulty beating them, ever.

If they've changed in AEM, I haven't used them and found out.

Nebulon-B Frigates are small frigates present in the base game.

In Vanilla, Nebulon-Bs have two turbolaser batteries and two laser cannons, and are intended to oppose Acclamator Assault ships. They have a "power to shields" ability that helps make them harder to kill as well.

In AEM, Nebulon-Bs are tier I frigates. They're supposed to be available at tech level 1, but not in the campaign. They carry a minimal starfighter complement - 1 X-Wing, and 1 Y-Wing - and are actually substantially weaker than Acclamators.

Assault Frigate Mk. Is are unique to AEM. These are the Rebel tier II frigate. They have the same armament and fighter complement as a Nebulon-B, but deal more damage and have better defenses. They have the same power to shields ability.

These are roughly equivalent to Acclamator Assault Ships in battlefield impact, and we're likely to build quite a few of them.

The Officer Academy. One of the few buildings in this game that also enables a space unit. In vanilla, this building requires a barracks to be constructed and provides no garrison. Here, we can just build it, and it offers a Field Commander garrison.

Shield Generators are our other new structure. These create an area on the tactical map that laser-armed units can't fire into.

Space Stations are interesting in AEM. Basically, higher level stations are always better than lower level ones.

Higher level stations provide more population points, and are larger and tougher and festooned with more weapons. But they also have better garrisons, by several metrics.

Our level one station had a garrison of 6 Z-95s, 6 ARC-170s, and 4 IPV-1 corvettes.

Our level two station had a garrison of 6 X-Wings, 6 Y-Wings, 4 IPV-1 corvettes, and 2 Nebulon-B frigates. This is both increasing the power of existing garrison units, and adding an entirely new set of garrisons.

The level three station has a garrison of 6 X-Wings, 6 Y-Wings, 4 Corellian Corvettes, and 2 Assault Frigate Is. And since this is AEM, those frigates will launch fighters of their own.

In AEM, the only reason not to upgrade your space stations is if you can't afford it.

On to Yavin IV. We can finally build our light factory.

...butttt we can also build a medium factory now.

Heh. Swamp speeders. Looks like I get to eat my own words. The Rebels get Swamp Speeders in AEM, both as a unit and as a garrison.

And Yavin IV's unique land unit building, the Elite Academy.

At the Elite Academy, we can train SpecForce and build B-3 droids, both of which are useful enough to deserve constant production. Okay. I know how I want to re-tool Yavin IV now.

Weyland has no unique land units and crappy income, so we arbitrarily assign it T2-B production duties from now until the the end of time.

We send our fleet to Kessel because damnit I'm a greedy bitch.

There appear to be no buildings on the surface.

Mon Mothma arrives on Korriban. We sell a mining facility and order a light factory.

For the future, assume that I hold on to each mining facility as long as possible before selling it and building a new medium factory.

We land units on Kessel.

We're not stopping Yavin IV from building its last tank. Then it's on to the next stuff.

We go back to Dantooine to upgrade the space station. We don't need more infantry right now.

We reluctantly sell one mining facility on Alderaan to train fleet and field commanders here.

We queue up our first long-range scanner for Kuat. I expect this system to come under attack.

Production queue for Kessel. Come on. With an income like 160, what responsible person could NOT order a Financial Center and two Mining Facilities?

We send the droids to scout Mon Calamari. Scout. Not steal technology.

The enemy fleet takes 20 population, and the strongest unit is an Acclamator.

Let's be honest with ourselves and with each other. Mon Calamari is an important planet for the alliance, so taking it has to be a priority. That said, it's the only Imperial planet on the map for now, so we need to steal tech from it. And tech theft would be easier if I could always know where the Imperial world we're stealing from is.

Add it all together, and we're going to be beating that Imperial fleet and leaving SOMETHING in orbit of Mon Calamari, period, even if we don't take the planet. Having orbital control will make our eventual conquest trivial.

Fleet Commanders in vanilla offer some small benefits. Might as well have one for large fleets.

Fleet Commanders in AEM offer several major benefits, and are essential for any serious fleet.

The same basically applies to Field Commanders, except that Field Commanders also come with three squads of special forces.

One of our unique Fresian starfighters! Costs the same as a Z-95, stronger than a Z-95, not as strong as an X-Wing. How fucking disappointing.

One of Yavin IV's unique ships. It's a carrier that's useless in battle but provides two X-Wing squadrons. Do you see the problem with it?

It costs the same population as just buying those X-Wings normally. Or of purchasing an Assault Frigate. And it costs 1,800 credits.  If this was three squadrons of X-Wings, it'd be worth it. But right now, it simply isn't.

We order our first fleet and field commanders.

Kessel allows us a ship we can't recruit anywhere else.

The IPV-1 corvette is...not a good corvette. As long as we have the Corellian Corvette in our build list, there's no point to ordering an IPV-1 unless we, you know, just want some. Some of these new units are extremely powerful, some are just here for the sake of being cool.

Kessel's planet information screen! I'll include Wayland's next update.

Swamp Speeders. I believe I mentioned these earlier.

In vanilla, Swamp Speeders are fast, but no threat to anything and otherwise completely pointless.

In AEM, Swamp Speeders have a rapid-fire laser that is lethal to infantry, but they lack the armor to survive long against infantry or indeed anything else. Swamp Speeders can capture build pads and hover, though, which makes them essential on some planets.

MPTL Artillery are rocket artillery. They fire explosive weapons at extreme range after they're deployed. They have some of the best firepower of ground units and are particularly good at defending, but have weak armor and numerous problems. Each unit also contains two spotter droids, which can reveal a map location without actually being there. This is perfect for targeting bombing runs.

The unit's functionality is about the same between vanilla and AEM.

AAC-1s are an AEM unit. They exist to shoot down aircraft. They also hover and inflict significant splash damage while ignoring shields, so they can be effective in other ways. However, it's best to consider using this unit in combat outside of air defense to be a pointless vanity project.

Semi-unique SpecForce companies. These are basically blaster infantry, but with VASTLY improved health and damage. These units may be ideal for a special Rebel tactic.

B-3 droids are roughly as powerful as T2-B tanks, but are better armored and can capture build pads instead of being shielded and hovering. They still use repair stations instead of bacta tanks. These units could be used with a standard ground assault force, but considering our limited numbers of them, they're probably best used in another way.

I decided to stop screenshotting absolutely EVERYTHING I did. So, recap of what I've done.

Dantooine, Yavin IV, and Korriban built a bunch of Assault Frigate Is for me - they joined with the Sundered Heart, the Fleet Commander, and the corellian corvettes in Kessel orbit.

Yavin IV finished its mining facilities and is now building a ton of B-3 droids for...a secret mission.

Korriban is mostly done with the medium vehicle factories, but not quite.

Kessel is now our breadbasket of angels.

All the starfighters and starbombers split from the fleet are orbiting Alderaan. I'm still deciding my tactical doctrine moving forwards.

Wayland is finished building light factories, but is not currently building T2-B tanks.

Fresia has finished its mining facilities.

We are now free to pursue an organized strategy for victory.

What I want to do: Establish two defensive fleets, with fleet commanders, to orbit around whatever world I think needs it. Each fleet would need exactly 33 population worth of units, and my jury's still out on what exactly I should have these fleets.

Add Swamp Speeders (3 or 4), AAC-1s (3 or 4) and MPTLs (5 or 6) to the main army.

Add another five each of infantry, plex, and T2-Bs to main army.

Create three secret project fleets.

Decide what to do with all the starfighters. Maybe just make a ton of starfighters and throw them at the next Imperial stronghold, see what happens. It'd be hilarious. Starfighters are really cheap compared to frigates. We could build five or more squadrons of starfighters/starbombers instead of each capital ship.

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