Ok, if your so good at beating the enemy on normal mode, then what is your strategy? I did it once on one map (Knife fight) but am unable to replicate the scenario on any other map (Deneb in particular). No matter what I do or how fast I build the enemy overwhelms me with forces every time. If I am able to hold on long enough they send a super dreadnought at me and I start to get wiped out. I usually quit when I know I am going to loose because there is no sense in wasting the time to keep playing.
I can sometimes beat the AI on normal. I'd say I lose more than I win. I will try on Deneb and see how it goes.
I learned early on that the AI aggressively pursues building the first dreadnought as early as possible, and the best way to beat dreadnoughts is with dreadnoughts. So I also try to build mine as early as I can, without destroying my economy or neglecting the lower tier of units. Here is a general recipe:
1. At the start, have your one engineer build the base extractors. Then build 2-3 engineers and have them cap the 2-3 nearest resource points before the neutrals spawn. Have those build extractors. One of those resource nodes has to be reactives.
2. Have your initial engineer build a quantum complex after it is done with the base extractors. You will be spamming T1 and T2 units soon, and you want to minimize the amount of time it takes to research the first logistics. I actually queue a bunch of quantum complexes.
3. Two of the other engineers build factories close together in the same region. Those engineers will assist their factory once complete. I start off building 8 brute squads, which will form two equally-sized battle groups. Those two groups will capture as many neutral regions as possible, building my economy. When I have excess metal I'll build a few more engineers to be used in step 5.
4. After the 8 brute squads, I have one factory build a mix of all the T1 units, with more emphasis on Archers and Brutes. The other factory builds one Artemis and one Zeus. Turn on the repeat queue for both factories. Set a common rally point for the factories that is on the edge of your territory in the direction of the enemy.
5. As your territory expands build extractors in safe-ish regions, along with well-placed radar buildings to give some warning of impending enemy approach. At some point soon you will reach the first logistics cap, but hopefully you have 1 or 2 quantum complexes chugging away and will be able to research first logistics.
6. When you start getting a surplus of reactives coming in, have an engineer build and then assist an Advanced factory. I tend to start off with a Chronos, but I don't really know what is best.
7. Meanwhile you should have a good amount of T1 and T2 units. I put them in a battle group and have them poke into the enemy territory, capping edge regions or defending and recapping my own. I'll have a couple such battle groups by the time my first dreadnought comes out. I try to get my first dreadnought into battle as soon as possible, battle grouped with several T1 and T2 units.
8. When I start getting a consistent surplus of resources, I'll make more factory bases in forward positions.
I have tried setting up defenses, but I find them inferior to a strong mobile force of units for defense. They take a lot of time and resources to build and I find you get more bang for the buck with units. Plus, my front line is always moving meaning much of the time my defenses are not doing anything useful for the team. Defenses serve to slow down an enemy, but are quickly dismantled by medium-sized groups, so they must always be backed up by units.
You can bring some air units into this strategy. Bombers wreck right now. Once the AI starts using air units this game is going to play very differently.