That said, this guy had 4 carriers which are the hard counter.
Sure, I've always known that carriers and fighters were OP. But we aren't talking about 10 or 15 carriers evaporating 28 assailants in seconds, we are talking 3 or 4 carriers (the fouth one showed up later - it wasn't even there most of the time). If you say "that's still enough to pull off that kind of slaughter," then carriers and fighters are 10 times more OP than even I ever thought they were. Basically, they are uber-OP. What other "hard counter" in the game can evaporate the thing it is countering in seconds, when outnumbered by it 7 times over? If I had brought in 28 skirmishers, and if those 4 drone hosts were illums instead (the hard counter), would the skirmishers have evaporated as fast? Answer: NO.
Now, 28 Assailants is nothing to sniff at if they have phase missile upgrades. If you had Nano bombed the Progen and all the Assailants had targetted it, you should have killed it while taking heavy losses. Maybe your cap would escape...maybe not....
Sure, it's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. You see, I actually try to learn lessons in this game, to no avail. I thought I had learned the lesson that when there is enough lrm present to focus and take down your cap, to just go ahead and pull it instead of losing it. So that's what I did. Yet somehow, that was wrong.
Watch the replay...see what upgrades are on the Progen...was Malice fully upgraded? Was he keeping his forces alive with shield restore?
Level 5 mothership, and the only thing he did was chain malice - no shield restore (who doesn't use shield restore on the mothership???). He wasn't micro'ing anything, you see (which adds insult to injury). The malice was autocasting. I mean, the full extent of the dude's micro was grabbing all his illums and right-clicking my cap. That's it. Other than that, he just sat there and picked his nose, watching the fireworks. Yet I lost. I had most of the map (double his planets), and I was number one in everything in the game, including econ. He was essentially playing like a newb. But I lost.
Did you have upgrades on your Assailants?
As previously stated, I had all tier 1 hull and phase missle upgrades possible (2 of each).
I think we all have WTF just happened moments with this game. And I mean WTF as in NO WAY THAT JUST HAPPENED.
It happens to me all of the time with this game (NO OTHER GAME). Even worse, it will happen when playing against an utter newb who by all measures should be utterly crushed (and in fact IS being crushed), but one slip on a bannana peel and it's YOU who are crushed.
I've been playing strategy games since before Starcraft. I've always played at "pro" or "skilled" level with all the others I've played. Not this one, no matter how many games I play, no matter how many lessons I try to learn and apply. This game was weirdly balanced for me even from the outset (with the super siege frig, etc), and to this day I have yet to wrap my mind around it's odd play dynamics, weird non/counter-intuitive balances, underlying game philosophy, etc. Oddly enough, while billing itself with an emphasis on grand strategy, it seems to rely even more on tactical play than other strategy games I've played.
Bottom line is, I can get damn good at other strategy games with reasonable amounts of time and energy put into them. Furthermore, things are "explicable" in the other strategy games, and "make sense," even when I lose. But I think I could play this game from now until doomsday and never be good at it. So I'm guessing I should go off and play an old Total War while waiting for SCII, and see if I do any better at that one.
Before I do that, my parting shot: NERF THE HELL OUT OF FIGHTERS.