You know what…I think I wish to revise and extend my previous remarks. The campaign game may no longer be playable, at least on the Admiral setting.
I have played, and won, a number of games on that setting in the past. Recently, however, I began to experience a string of losses. At first I thought it was that I was playing with a new race and just hadn’t gotten the hang of the new designs. But today I had some free time, so I switched back to my original race (Federation) and have been taking notes, and the computer is definitely attacking more often, with larger fleets, and at more worlds simultaneously. In addition, the percentage of fleets designed almost exclusively to combat fighters has gone up dramatically.
While one would expect some increase in the number of anti-fighter fleets over time, the fact that fighters are only super-useful in the beginning stages of the game should mean that they would still remain a relatively limited percentage of the overall number of player-designed fleets available, because most fleets would still be more balanced setups designed to fight battles in the mid-to late game. But that does not seem to be the case. Furthermore, the anti-fighter fleets are now coming equipped with 20+ squadrons of fighters, when all I can afford to deploy are fighters and a few frigates.
In addition, when my only fleet has 5K hitpoints and is already up against maintenance limitations, the challenge of having to fight multiple fleets with 40K+ hitpoints, all attacking simultaneously or in quick succession, even though I have been trying to stay back from the border so as to avoid provoking buildups, is not enjoyable. Yeah, I generally destroy the first fleet with minimal losses (say 15-20%), but then the second fleet takes me down to 50% of my original strength and the third finishes me off.
Recently, with a fleet of 20K hitpoints, within a space of 9 turns I had to fight enemy fleets totaling 387K.
Also, I have done some experiments with replaying turns, and it also seems that the computer has knowledge of what I am doing and can adjust its attacks accordingly in the same turn. Maybe this is just paranoia, but when I tweak my deployments for a turn and the AI then suddenly decides to attack somewhere that it previously left alone, and this happens consistently, I begin to smell a rat.
I once won an Admiral setting game in 174 turns, although my average was more generally in the 250 to 300 turn range. Now I get regularly wiped out before I can even take and hold Argoshka. And by regularly I mean 100% of the time.
So maybe I’m becoming paranoid and/or senile, but I doubt it. Something else is going on here. And if the Admiral setting game has become impossible, it is also possible that the Cadet and Captain settings have gotten frustratingly hard as well. So ignore everything I said above, and good luck. Me, I think I’m going to take some time off from this game.
Just for the record, this problem seems to have popped up somewhere in the 1.54 to 1.55 update range. But since we don’t know what goes into the update packages, there is no way to tell exactly.