There's an incoming rant, so skip down to the TL;DR if you're not interested in reading it.
So I looked back a few pages and couldn't really find anything on this.
The long and short of it is: whoever thought it'd be an awesome idea to bring in wtfpwn Dread Lord uber-ass-smasher ships with triple figure attack ratings when I've barely gotten out of the early game needs to be drowned.
I'd just colonised my 8th planet and, with the same pride of a father looking upon his newborn son, I smiled upon the galactic civlisations ranking where I saw myself as Number 1. Such a glorious, uplifting shot of juice into my secret meglomaniacal fantasies.
But, oh no, what is this? The "Dread Lords are coming!" screen?
My first reaction was: Who the fuck are the dread lords? And what's their f'n problem?
Are they like the Mongolian invasions from Total War?
A short answer would be: No.
A long answer would be: Heeeeeeeeeell no - you can actually fight and beat the mongols if you're as cunning as a Fox who won a contest of cunning. Against the dreadlords? Well, they're useful if your leader woke up one day and said to themselves "You know, I don't like having so many ships in my military and populated, money-making planets - I just wish there was some way to get rid of them all!' boom, dreadlords.
My first encounter with the self-titled Lords of Dread (or as I call them, the cheesy over powered assholes, or COPA for short) was between a medium-sized ship that I had outfitted with an ass-load of sensors, speed and life support. Called the class the Harbinger class (get it? because if another race saw them they were the "harbinger" of their doom? I know, pretty clever), it was just cruising around, minding its own business spying on people when some hideous purple thing moved up to it, zapped it with it death ray and pop, there went a bunch of bc down the drain. So my first encounter lasted all of 0.21 seconds.
However in those 0.21 seconds I got a look at the type of bling that the COPA's were sporting. Hmmm, yes, yes I see, massive fuck off beam lazers and a crap load of shields. Oh look at that - no armor. Right, lots of big rail cannons and stuff. So I built several dozen tiny ships each carrying a few mass drivers on them, parked them in the pathway of the incoming COPA's then went and fried myself some bacon in butter to celebrate (it's my Ketogenic diet, don't worry I'm not on heart-attack avenue). I didn't bother giving my ships shields or anything, because with the stupidly huge attack power of the COPA's ships, my ships would fall apart faster than a chair from IKEA anyway.
Then on my map some ugly purple fleet thing arrived. Oh good, they were here.
5 seconds later what was left of my dozens of ships was bouncing off the windscreen wipers of the dreadlords ships. Despite having no armor whatsoever or defense against mass drivers, the dreadlord ships took no damage at all! Nada, nothing. Ghandi ate more than what my ships did to them - and they were armed with the direct counter to their defenses! I might as well have given porky pig a sharp broom and thrown that pink motherfucker at the dreadlords ships for all the good it did.
"That's okay." I said to myself in my deep, smooth voice, "maybe I just need bigger guns! Or more of them."
After several minutes of building a new fleet of bigger ships with bigger guns, the flaming ruins of that venture was soon floating about space.
Oh, and the kicker? This was all caused by just 3 COPA escorts.
The entire military of the most powerful civilisation took it up the ass from the three weakest ships of the very enemy they were designed to defeat.
Now, obviously, everything is in ruins. I've got no way of stopping these ships from pillaging and blowing everything up, which they are very happily doing...flying around whats left of my territory like some star-based internet troll eating everything. What was a fun game that was giving me the power fantasy I paid my $20 to experience has become a sigh-inducing chore of exhaustion, so naturally I'm starting again.
But I know that the Dreadknobs are just going to rear their ugly, snaggletoothed heads again at some point in a future game.
This bullshit isn't fun. It's like a DM bringing along a level 20 character in your lvl 5 D&D game, smashing your party apart with it and then going "Oh, but isn't the game much more tense now!" No douchebag it's not, the fun is ruined because you couldn't think of a better threat other than better stats. You want to make the game tense then have a faction go apeshit, get its allies together, and embark on a galactic-wide war of carnage, death and destruction that see's a back and forth war of unparalleled horror and brutality - that sounds like fun, not some cheap, lame "My stas r better than ur stats, pew-pew, u die".
TL;DR So. How do you beat them?
Just research the shit out of stuff and hope that the computer feels like being fair instead of cheating?
Help me here please. I just got the game the other night and I was having a lot of fun until this happened.