AILien

AILien is a Zerg bot that came to the ladder shortly after the end of the 2016-2017 SSCAIT tournament finals, and slotted into a pretty respectable position at a winrate of about 60%. Its Elo rating is 2152 as of the time of writing.

Its author, Xilmi, is often on the chat on the SSCAIT twitch channel, so you can probably ask there if you want to know about the bot – if Xilmi’s not there, someone who’s talked to them about AILien probably is.

AILien’s play is macro-heavy in a way that resembles Aurelian Lermant’s Garmbot, but takes expansions in more sensible positions and micros units in groups rather than simply rallying them into the enemy base.

Strategy:
The opening is fairly standard, with some ling aggression followed up by expansion and a transition into hydralisks, lurkers and ultralisks. While easily countered by certain builds, it holds up well against most midgame aggression, and can often win with a counter-attack.

The play is unusually defensive for a zerg, but unlike other zergs on the SSCAIT which play defensively, it expands and techs up. It will build one or two sunkens at each base, and generally stay at or near its own base other than with the until it gets the hydralisk speed upgrade.

The build falls off in the last game, mainly because it lacks defilers for dark swarm. Adding them seems like it could give a significant boost to this bot, especially against strong late-game Terrans like Letabot and Iron.

Macro:
AILien’s macro varies from game to game, but is usually very strong. It can couple its fast but cautious expansion with lots of macro hatches to ensure that it doesn’t float more than a few hundred resources. However if AILien prevented from expanding, its production of macro hatcheries seems to stop. This may not be a terrible idea as fewer bases means resource income is lower, so fewer macro hatcheries are needed, but the level of compensation isn’t perfect.

When it does manage to expand and build macro hatcheries the number of units AILien has at a time often seems lower than would be expected. I think that this is because it doesn’t always have enough workers, possibly because it spends more of them on buildings than most other zergs.

Micro:
The zergling micro is very weak against ranged units, and they often just stand still or run back and forth while being shot at and don’t do any damage.

Like several other bots, the army tends to string out when it’s being sent across the map, which makes the units vulnerable to flanking and makes the army as a whole much weaker at the start of a fight when attacking. The generally defensive strategy minimises the damage this causes, and it happens to a far lesser extent than in some other bots, but it does still have a negative effect on AILien’s ability to attack effectively.

Aside from that, however, the army and unit control is good, especially with lurkers. The lack of defilers does hurt this, but it’s still usually good enough to break bots that don’t have a lot of tanks or dragoons in a defensive position.

Hydralisks are also able to kite well – presumably part of the reason why it waits for the speed upgrade is so it can make proper use of this.

If you’ve got any of your own ideas or comments about this bot, feel free to post them below. If you’ve got any questions about this bot, I’ll try my best to answer them (though it’s likely I’ll have no idea what the answer is). If Xilmi comes around here, hi, I hope that my comments are helpful, or at least interesting.

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