I would like to pass on my observations and suggestion as a freespace fan & real life officer. Sorry for my English.
When I was playing AOA for the first time I was amazed by its story, new ships, and very entertaining missions. Then came WIH - and to be honest - missions were great fun and for the first time freespace was becoming sort of Scifi-Milsim, but i was expecting something more from the story and overall shift from fun to some philosophical thing - did not go well.
I will start with the things i do not like - and finish with some suggestions regarding tactical and
I think, from what i have read and seen for past ten years in army - Humans are predators, we rule this planet because we are at the top of the food chain - we excel at killing, and we develop so we can do it more efficient - first Sumer civilization, first city-states were created to gain upper hand in war, to create more advanced weapons,armor and logistical capability. First kings were warlords. Few centuries ahead in Egypt, second civilization was born upon people fighting for "black land" and Nile. When people find out that only way to protect themselves is to create bigger,more advanced societies. As kingdoms grow bigger(democratic states did not stand a chance with kingdoms - see Athens vs Sparta etc) they conquer and suppress neighbors so no one could become a threat to them - and if state archive total supremacy over enemies (Roman Empire, Persian Empire, Macedonian Empire, British Empire, etc) - they collapse due to internal affairs and lack of motivation to improve - if you are all powerful - why should you spend money on army or war-oriented economy?
And then you will be surprised how fast your enemies are developing, joint with each other to attack you.
It was the arms race that put human race in space - and it will be arms race that will keep us there.
Our whole history of development evolve upon war.
We are like shivans - we are ultimate predators and if we encounter something we do not know - we attack - better safe than sorry. As we did with the Vasudans. The only thing that keep us from next war with them were the Shivans. GTVA was created to counter that threat. And it did its purpose - during the second shivan incursion the high command did great job. I my opinion any other government would fail to accomplish so much in that situation. If High command would hesitate for a minute to use meson bombs to close the nodes to capella - ...
After what happened during second incursion, when we finally have a grasp of shivan capabilities and power - And when we finally managed to open a way to Solar system - the most productive system, whose economy is equal to all human colonies - we find Ubuntu Party that "placed emphasis on economic recovery and political stability, rather than military strength", knowing well that shivan understanding of jump nodes and Subspace is far better (They could use uncharted node to get to Sol) and they could eventually get to Sol by normal space(given 30-40 years by sublight speeds) - all they have come up with is 3 solaris-class battleships with carrier capability and some frigates - very good I admit. But as for biggest human economic power - such small force is a sign of weak government and utter stupidity of its leaders. For comparison - smaller GTVA managed to build dozens of Hecate/Orion/Titan/Raynor Class Carriers/Battleships in that time. Not to mention Collossus.
We have battle-harden warriors like Steele against Natreba, Calder and other bunch of soft, not prepared for combat maniacs.
Now Ubuntu leaders want to play with everybody lives in a bosch-like attempt to put their fates in hands of unknown alien race, that for all we know could be in a alliance with the shivans or At least not be able to stop them like in AOA.
So the question is - would You, put your life in hand of some crazy prophets that have said if we are cute and sheep-like enough we will live because some powerful aliens we do not nothing about (but for what we have seen in AOA are no real match for Shivans) could come and "use ancient art of pantomime" on destroyers to save the day before shivans will be bored with it and slice their keepers with BFReds.
OR you could take your chances in combat / work as hard as you can to build up economic base - to protect those you love - in this case you At least have a fighting chance.
As for laporte talking with aliens and bend on GTVA destruction - If you are a Shivan, a ultimate predator in space - you have hundreds of years of war experience - what is the easiest way to cleanse the galaxy from species like your self before they grow and become a threat to you? You disrupt its government by supporting some pacifists who will in time disarm your opponent, turn them against each other so they will be weaker when you go in directly.
Shivans would not posses such technology if they would be mindless or dumb. They could rollover us if they really want to - but at Very high cost. Its easier to use Bei, Laporte and Elders to destroy leadership of those who managed to defeat or atleast set back your offensive.
Maybe whole 14th BattleGroup incident was staged by shivans to stop GTVA from taking back earth where they secretly rule?
Ok now I will focus on some tactical issues and suggestions.
Freespace battlefield is asymmetric with 4 dimensional battlefield (4th is Subspace) - I very liked the way WIH embraced that. You can attack with smaller forces draw enemy to you and then ambush him using subspace jumps. So basically it all down to numbers - who have more wins.
I wont focus on GTVA vs UEF because it's already lost war for the UEF from the beginning. And having Steele at helm - i doubt it will take much longer - unless UEF have been building a fleet of solaris'es or Icanus somewhere ;-). So i will pass on my observations on ways to fight the shivans
The only choke point were you can use smaller forces to defend against larger ones, are the Jump Nodes (irrelevant in WIH becouse GTVA already taken the Node).
All this leaves some interesting questions like:
1. You need to find a way to keep your flanks safe in order to counter those subspace jumps.
2. How to defend against superior numbers of ships
3. What are the ways to create "choke point" in 4th dimensional space.
4. How to counter enemy massive dreadnoughts like Sathanas
The most important ones are in my opinion 2 and 3 - We need to find a simple and efficient way to counter shivan superior numbers - and i think the answer to that are mines - mass produced, with simple IFF system. cheap, used in massive numbers to cover nodes and installations - they would create much needed tactical depth and a choke point - keeping shivans from jumping at beam range - shivans have poor point defenses - it would take them a while to clear thought a minefield. Also Pegasus stealth technology would help to improve their usefulness.
Giving much time to stage an attack by our superior fighters and long range missiles.
Apocalypse/Eos, mass drivers, Bombers armed with Helios bombs/ missiles/torpedoes shown great potential in long range battles - We need to keep those Beams at long range to stand a chance.
Develop some ECM buoys/decoys to mess with they targeting computers - drag them behind your ships - like today destroyers.
Use EOS/Apocalypse single-shot multi-missile pods as cheap way to add much needed long range-firepower when defending installations/nodes.
Shivans most powerful units like Sathanas are defenseless against rear and flanking attack - making them easy pray for wisely deployed node defense forces.
I wonder if any one would care to read that much.
Sorry for my English.
For Blueplanet Crew -
Keep up with good work - if AOA & Wih were commercial games - they would still by great.