Or is there another explanation?
I picked up this game on Steam after not playing it for several years. On challenging difficulty with a small map, I had a peaceful universe and I was building up my navy for a gigantic surprise attack. (Heh heh. Evil chuckle.) Then I got the mega-event where giant fleets of technologically-advanced pirates mysteriously arrive around every single world. (Grrr...)
The pirates quickly destroyed every starbase in the game and then every fleet. I salvaged one fighter by running away to the corner of the map. I tried to be philosophical about it and not disappointed, as some of the other forum posts suggested (http://forums.galciv2.com/321552) and (http://forums.galciv2.com/428835).
I thought: While the pirates were rampaging around space they would suppress the AIs, allowing me to tech up a master fleet that could destroy the pirates *and* my enemies! That was the plan. Sure enough, the "military" progress chart tanked to basically zero for everyone as the pirates had their way with the universe.
Funny thing though... shortly I noticed the "military" progress chart started to creep back up again for some of my AI enemies while I was still nowhere near pirate-beating strength. Since I was slightly ahead of the AIs in every capacity at this point, how were they doing it?
I researched sensors to see what was going on, and as soon as I could see into enemy space I found the strangest things. This led to three observations that make no sense to me. Maybe other people have some insight as to what is going on?
Strange thing #1: The pirates were ruthlessly suppressing all space travel... but only for *me* and for one other race. They were mostly leaving the other races alone, but this was inconsistent. That's why the "military" bar was going up for some enemy AIs. Several pirate fleets were one or two squares away from planets that were filled with orbiting ships of all kinds. These pirate fleets seemed stuck. (Mind you, as soon *I* built a ship at this stage the nearby pirate fleets would attack and destroy it.) Were those fleets damaged somehow? Or is this a bug?
Strange thing #2: After many turns I saw one of the AIs start beating back the pirates. But they did not tech up the way I was doing it. They were hopelessly outmatched, sending a fleet of three small ships that total 6 offense and 0 defense vs a pirate fleet that had 50 offense and yet the enemy AI fleets were winning against the pirates. Is there some game mechanic that explains these results? In other words, why were they clearing out the pirates with totally puny ships but my puny ships were defeated at this stage? Is there a "super-effective against pirates" trait or something?
Strange thing #3: After I teched up my engines, I noticed that the pirates have a marked tendency to lock-on to uncatchable targets (my fast ships) while ignoring unarmed constructors and freighters right next to them. I think this could be explainable by the way the AI chases things though. So maybe a feature and not a bug. It sure does look strange though. They also do things like have an enemy ship within sight and an attack is within their move range (4), but then they move toward it and then veer away at the last square so they cannot attack it.
It is kind of like the pirate fleets are an impaired cat and I am a laser pointer's dot.
So is this part of the design or are these bugs or what? I guess there could be a random element in the pathing to simulate... I don't know... drunken pirates?