I don't know how exactly the combat system works (mainly with combat speed), but from what I noticed during combat, I am assuming that shields work as extra health that regens completely between combats. So for example: Ship with 15 health/3 shields gets hit by a 6 damage attack, it will come out with 12 health/0 shields. To give the AI some method of estimating the chance of winning a battle, we may be able to use these equations:
- Example: Mark I vs Larval Kraken
- Total fleet structure / Enemy fleet total attack = # of rounds until fleet gets killed (all numbers round up to nearest integer).
Mark I has 15 health and 1 shield = 16 total structure / Larval Kraken has 5 attack
16/5 = 3.2 rounds up to 4. It will take 4 rounds from the Larval Kraken to destroy the Mark I.
- Enemy fleet total structure / Total fleet attack = # of rounds to destroy enemy fleet (all numbers round up to nearest integer).
Larval Kraken has 18 health and no shields / Mark I has 2 attack
18/2 = 9. It will take 9 rounds from the Mark I to destroy the Larval Kraken.
If # of rounds to destroy enemy fleet is greater than the # of rounds until fleet gets killed, this means the battle will likely be lost. If it's the other way around, then the battle will likely be won. If both numbers are equal, then the odds are about 50/50 - I guess here is where the combat speed comes in (whoever shoots first will win). So if the AI finds itself in a situation where it might lose a battle, it will be able to send more ships to increase firepower and go through the algorithm again until it thinks it can win.
Designing and building ships is probably the most important (and attractive) part of this game. To help simulate AI ship design, a list of hidden designs reserved for the AI could be created (or possibly more than one to simulate different playstyles). It would be something like the predesigned ships file I guess. The difference would be that these lists aren't shared with every other player like the predesigns, and if there is more than one list, it would be impossible for the human player to figure out which set of ships the AI would use.
I think the Mark I should be removed from the predesigns because it's completely outclassed by the Mark II in terms of production time, cost, damage output, and raw stats (essentially a Mark II is a Mark I with 4 extra attack). The only reason that I can see to leave the Mark I in is to punish players who don't upgrade the mass driver at the beginning of the game. The AI should at least be able to recognize this and stop producing Mark I's once the Mark II is available.
Here's a quick rundown that shows how badly outclassed the Mark I is:
(without using mining focus nor industry focus for the following turns)
Turn 1: Learn mass driver 2 immediately. Completes in 5 turns. Stop production and grind minerals.
Turn 2-5: Scout, grind minerals, etc.
Turn 6: Mass driver 2 is unlocked. Mineral stockpile is 37.5. Produce Mark II immediately. Completes in 5 turns.
Turn 7-10: Mineral stockpile drops by 7.5 per turn until Mark II is complete.
Turn 11: Mark II is ready for service. Throw the Mark I blueprint out the window; it's useless now.
As shown, the Mark I is only useful for the first 10 turns. What are the odds of getting overwhelmed during the first 10 turns? The only use the Mark I has is to clean out monsters wandering too close, but it loses to the Larval Kraken and Small Juggernauts 100% of the time, and can barely win against a Small Snowflake (it has to be lucky).