The various X-COM games suffered from this as well. Apocalypse was new to real-time, reactive AI, so the following scenario is not at all unlikely: five troops kneeling (to present a smaller target) in an area filled with bookshelves. One of them is being attacked by a worm, and they just sit there and watch, including the one being attacked. The sixth one is trying to shoot it... while on the other side of a bookshelf. His rifle ran out of ammunition so he switched to his rocket launcher. And he was right up against a bookshelf. They actually got more intelligent when their brains were sucked out and replaced with green alien goo. In that same game, two were attacked and converted, switched to incendiary ammunition, spread out, and accurately started a ring of fires in and around the other four, who responded in a thoughtful and calm manner by shooting each other in the heads. Not even in the remote direction of the enemies.
The original X-COM and its sequel, Terror from the Deep, were turn-based, so it was only natural that your troops would just watch while the aliens shot at them (if the aliens were shooting, it probably wasn't your turn). Characters did have a "Reaction" stat, which gave them a chance to shoot if an enemy moved in their line of sight when it wasn't their turn, but humans Reaction score tended to start so low that shooting 1 in every 4 times they see an alien is akin to lightning reflexes. They did, however, have the problem with characters — on either side — not taking the blast radius of their weapons into account when shooting. note This is forgivable in the sense that there is an inherent trade-off between "responding quickly" and "responding rationally". You never gave a rocket launcher to someone with a high Reaction score, or snuck up on an alien with a heavy weapon (aliens, in general, having much higher Reaction scores than humans).
The AI in the first (and likely the second) game has an interesting trigger in that their behavior will automatically switch to "all-outattack" starting around turn 20. Once you know this, UFO missions become much easier, especially with UFOs that only have 1 entrance. Just sweep the area outside the UFO for any stragglers and then put all your soldiers in ambush positions with reserved time for reaction fire, all facing the UFO entrance. For better results, throw a smoke grenade or two to reduce the enemy visibility (and chance to kill one or two of your soldiers before being taken down by your firing squad).
Aliens manage to grenade themselves with depressing regularity. Is there not some alien sergeant shouting "When Mr. Pin has been removed, Mr. Grenade is not your friend"?
Panicking civilians will happily run into the middle of a firefight, then run round in circles in some sort of weird suicide attempt.
Granted, people behaving like complete idiots while in a state of extreme fear is Truth in Television. note For example, in the event of a fire in a building, people in that building will generally rush for the nearest exit. This has the tendency to result in a stampede and/or a jammed doorway. Studies have shown that placing a slight obstruction to an emergency exit (such as a pillar blocking the way) actually improves the efficiency of that emergency exit, because the obstruction forces people to slow down and exit in a semi-orderly fashion instead of blindly Zerg Rushing the door.
This has actually been fixed in the Firaxis remake, where civilians will actively seek cover. Unfortunately, Aliens Are Bastards and will happily shoot the civilians instead of your soldiers.
Xcom troopers are little better, taking reaction shots even if a friendly is in/near the line of fire.
Givensome of the things that they fight, accidentally hitting your buddy could be interpreted as a Mercy Kill before it gets to him.
X-COM: Enemy Unknown had AI freeze, particularly if it was flanked and someone with line of sight at it goes into overwatch. Unless the AI can take a shot at a flanked or exposed enemy, the AI will not do anything. It will not use abilities or attack, which won't activate the Overwatch. This was later fixed.
Sectoids tend to favor using their psychic powers, even when using their pistol would be far more advantageous to them and they are flanking an enemy. In particular since two of their powers don't have any direct effect until their next turn — raising a dead unit as a zombie, the zombie can't act on the turn it's raised, while mind-controlled units similarly can't act until the next enemy turn, this can be a waste of an opportunity. Both actions also end the sectoid's turn, and their effects end if it is killed. The third power induces panic in a unit, but panicked units are liable to just immediately turn around and shoot the sectoid.
Sectopods don't bother walking around obstacles in their path... they just stomp through. No matter what that obstacle might be. And some obstacles in the game do Bad Things when damaged. It's not uncommon to suddenly see a message during the alien turn that a Sectopod somewhere on the map which hasn't been uncovered yet has stepped into a chemical tank and is now getting its armor melted off by Hollywood Acid.
Most of the time, this is merely amusing... though it would still qualify as an In-Universe example of Artificial Stupidity, considering that the Sectopod is usually only destroying the aliens' facilities and spaceships.
This also means Sectopods won't hesitate to walk through/over the van that contains your mission objective, usually causing the cab to explode violently. Whilst it's possible for a VIP to survive this (since they don't seem to be 'active' as an entity until spotted), a chest or hackable object will probably be destroyed, causing you to fail the primary objective.
In Pikmin, the little creatures for which the game is named seem to be completely blind to the hazards around them. Whistle to your blue Pikmin, summoning them across water? Any reds that are too close will happily march straight across the water with them. Red Pikmin can't swim. Take a few Pikmin that you thought were all electricity-immune yellows to destroy some electric hazards, set them on the electricity, and oops. Apparently a white or two was in there as well. Too bad electricity's an insta-kill.
The enemies have a bit of this as well. A Firey Blowhog just keeps on breathing fire on an idle, heat-resistant red Pikmin.
The Pikmin series in general has a bit of an issue with Pikmin trying to path through walls, but there's a particularly outstanding example in the third game. In one area, there are several clipboards lying around with fruit (which the playable characters must harvest to survive) lying underneath. The player has to use Flying Pikmin to lift them up and get to the fruit underneath. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, the Flying Pikmin will end up trapping themselves behind the raised clipboard, become unable to escape, and invariably die at sunset.
Dear Lord, Civilization. This series has suffered from a great deal of this since its inception. It's gotten a lot better, but the AI leaders often make astoundingly poor decisions.
For instance, nuclear strikes against a fortified opponent or picking fights with someone with vastly superior technology.
Or refusing free money if they hate you enough. ("We would rather eat dung than accept your offer!")
The AI also doesn't know how to properly build up cities, instead relying on built-into-the-AI bonuses. While you wasted your time building up your economy, the AI is just blessed with an economy and can focus on military build-up. (You're probably going to have a technological edge, but see further down the page for answers to that issue...)
In addition to not knowing how to properly use their cities, the AI was usually a pretty bad judge of their inherent value. The ability to exchange cities via diplomacy (added in Civ 3) could be exploited to great effect, either to bleed an opponent dry simply by taking the same city over and over again, selling it back each time for massive profit, or merely as a way to dump a crappy city that is doing you more harm than good. In either case, the computer is more than way too happy to take it off your hands.
A patch mostly removed this, so that AIs wouldn't include cities in trades any more, although they will include cities in peace treaties, and are still fine with you just giving them a city.
They also often give away every single city except one (their capital, or a random city) if they are losing in a war, as part of the peace agreement. If you are in a war against 3 opponents and they all surrender at the same time, be prepared for unhappiness.
In the Civ 3 Napoleonic Wars scenario, it is possible to win on the very first turn, even on the hardest difficulty. As Britain or France, you can convince every independent AI to give you all of their cities save one each, in exchange for defensive pacts. Upon hitting the spacebar, you then win a domination victory.
Another bit of stupidity in III: The AI only cares who declared war, not what caused war. So if you provoked your neighbor civ into declaring war by repeatedly trespassing on their land and spying on them, the other civ will be seen as the aggressor and you will suffer no diplomatic penalty. This allows for some delicious Wounded Gazelle Gambits: get a Mutual Defense Pact with the neighbor (let's say Greece) of the civ you want to fight (let's say it's Rome); trespass on Rome's land and make the Romans extremely insulting offers until they get Furious at you; run one espionage mission, which leads Rome to declare war on you; and then merrily invade as your ally Greece declares war on Rome too (because technically, Rome attacked you, not the other way around) and now the Romans are fighting a two-front war. Ta-ta, Caesar!
Adopting "Fascism" in III will knock a few population points off every medium or large city, as a rather chilling abstraction of your government killing "undesirables". The computer is programmed to value Fascism very highly as a war government and if possible will almost always adopt it at the first sign of conflict. This leads to the AI literally genociding themselves into irrelevancy as they constantly swap in and out of Fascism during the inevitably politically turbulent Industrial Age.
Beyond the Sword expansion pack of IV adds diplomatic features that the AI players tend to use extremely badly. For example, they will gladly cast their Apostolic Palace votes in favor of ending wars - even if they declared those wars themselves and had vastly superior armies.
In Civ V, the AI seems all too happy to repeatedly insult someone who A) is decades, if not centuries, more advanced than they are, and B) has already conquered several other civilizations. Then, they act surprised when they're next.
Also from V, there is already one report of an AI (specifically, Oda Nobunaga) sending their entire army against a city-state only for it to be routed by the city. This is made much more annoying for the guy who witnessed it because said AI was their teammate.
But nothing tops Civilization V's Worker units. When automated, they do whatever makes sense to them—-for instance, if (say) Townsville is at zero growth, meaning it has exactly as much food as it needs to sustain its population, and it accomplished that by putting farms on some hillsides... the Workers will go on ahead and turn those hills into mines, resulting in instant death-by-starvation in the city. And if you tell them not to, well, you're bound to Automate them again, at which point they'll return to that hill and mine it, by golly!—because you may be the ruler of an empire, but only Workers know what a city actually needs! Thankfully, The "Workers leave pre-existing improvements" option from Civilization IV has been patched back in.
This behaviour is actually a carry-over from III. "Automated" workers in it will mine every square within the city radius, even if the city has more than enough Production to suit its needs and is in desperate need of more food for growth. This shows itself in spades when the player reveals enemy civilisation layouts (usually by trading maps) - Their cities are tiny, mine-riddled towns while the player has economic powerhouse megacities note That's assuming the player has manually directed the Worker units to irrigate. Without the extremely unbalanced AI-to-AI trading, they'd be decades behind in technology too.
And not just usual improvements. Workers will occasionally remove incredibly expensive "great tile improvements" that take dozens of turns to have a go at building - only to replace them with a farm or a mine.
Also applies to the town border expansion by culture. It will sometimes ignore valuable luxury resources in favor of tiles with the same cost and only initially better output in resources, such as water tiles. This is somewhat deliberate as it means the settling patterns or the civ's people is slightly at odds with the prosperity of the civ as a whole, and "gold" can be used to claim tiles.
Workers are smart enough to run to your cities when land-based barbarians show up, but due to embarkation allowing them to cross oceans to work on the other cities in your empire, they'll go right ahead and embark into barbarian-infested waters. Also, AI civs you are at war with will occasionally charge at you with workers; this effect has been lessened with patches but there are still opportunities to grab unprotected workers here and there.
Many reviews of V have commented that the AI is quite poor at strategically placing its military units. Apparently the game's own AI hates the new stacking rules.
Related to that, the AI seems to suffer from the calculation of relative military strengths not taking concentration of force into account. One civilization could have a greater total amount of military strength on its side by way of having lots of low-tech units, while another side has less total military strength, but what strength it does have is centralized in a small number of higher tech units. This leads the AI leading the more primitive civilization into war with the more advanced one where their larger army will get picked apart piece by piece by the much smaller, better equipped, force.
And your Military Advisor calculated by the same means, urging you to make peace while you are wiping the floor with such an enemy.
This problem also make Domination victories an exercise in frustration when you have AI teammates because it means that they regularly make peace with a side you're about to finish off (or at least get good surrender terms with) without even consulting you and thus forcing you to honor a peace treaty that you got nothing out of.
The AI also fails at realizing that indirect combat units cannot capture towns, bringing little or no direct combat units to lay siege to a town. Pick off the direct combat units and you can decimate the rest with the town defense and a ranged unit stationed in it.
Finally, both the AI and military fail to take into account productive capacity—i.e., the ability to build units—and most especially, build a large number of units quickly. This capacity can be even more important than the number of units at the outbreak of war (real life history: World War II, USA and USSR). Even more frustratingly, humans are left in the dark on this issue; there is no easy way to directly and accurately assess the AI's industrial output unless you do a fair bit of espionage. If for whatever reason you cannot do that, you can only guesstimate production based on terrain improvements and city population, and even then these estimates can be wildly inaccurate.
Civilization V after researching trapping tech on the tech-tree which enables the building of trade-posts expect the enemy AI to build them on every freaking tile, meaning without some of the AI's Special bonuses on the higher difficulties expect them to be weak, bankrupt and technologically backwards past the 250 turn mark.
They do grow slightly with a certain tech, but so does any other tile improvement. They also provide one more gold during golden ages, which leads to them being better than most tile improvements early on, which is probably the source of this.
Another thing about the AI in V is how stubborn it tends to be. Imagine a Civ declares war on you, then you curbstomp their armies and take several of their cities and your armies are waiting just outside of another one of their cities and can take it easily. You'd imagine that when you give them demands for peace, they'd accept your conditions should they be reasonable. But no, anything other than an unconditional peace agreement (or one that doesn't favor you) is completely unacceptable. They won't even give you 1 gold if it means you will stop taking their cities. On the other hand, imagine the same situation, but they are demanding an insane amount of luxuries, resources, and gold from you to end the war. Or they demand such things even if they have yet to go into battle with one of your units.
China's Chu-Ko-Nu's can fire twice in the same turn, making them practically game-breaking in the hands of a human player. The AI often manages to completely forget this, turning one of the best civs in the game into a complete joke.
No matter what civ they have, they will always go wide (making lots of small cities), even if they have a civ meant to go tall (making a few very big cities). Then with "Brave New World", we have Venice, who literally cannot make more than one city as part of his gimmick. As you can imagine, this causes the AI to completely crap itself and never be a remotely competitive force in the game. In particular, expect them to never use their Merchant of Venice's "puppet a city-state" ability; there's video of the Venetian AI conquering a city-state through a grueling military campaign rather than walking the merchant over and hitting one button.
Units set to "Explore" have some of the dumbest AI in the game, running an algorithm that only accounts for terrain hidden versus terrain revealed, not silly little things like whether they'll start a war with a City-State by trespassing, or whether they're slowly circling a Barbarian Archer and getting themselves shot to pieces. Not only that, but they will also wander until they get stuck at the north or south pole and will continue to move one space towards it and one space back because they are unable to explore the ice fields. They do this despite the fact that there's other places they can go to explore. This problem is only solved when you get submarines which can explore under the ice and won't get stuck. However, if you weren't careful, this won't help you with exploring land that you missed earlier and scouts are so out-of-date by this point that they can be one shot.
One of the best conquerors in recorded history, Alexander the Great's entire kit revolves around attempting to overpower other civs through war or diplomacy. However, his AI is just brain-dead stupid. He prefers faster units, such as horsemen, knights, etc., which are weaker when attempting to attack cities. As well, he is better friends with you when you're a warmonger, and he will likely keep an army at the ready, just waiting for a reason to go to war. One of the best ways to keep him off your ass is to go to him with an offer of all of your resources, except gold up front and cities. Give him all of your iron, horses, luxury resources, etc. in exchange for him declaring on every city-state he knows, and every other civilization he's met. Odds are, he will accept. Now that he's accepted, you'd think this was a bad idea, but now if you declare war on him yourself, he is suddenly at war with everyone on the planet he knows, and he gets none of the resources you promised, leaving you free to watch as he gets curb-stomped by the closest civs.
In fact, this goes for just about any Civ. Pay them to declare war on someone (ideally a weak, but not "too" weak civ) then join in - it'll give you a diplomatic bonus as it'll make the world think you're helping out the poor underling fight off the Big Bad when, in fact, you masterminded the whole thing.
Even with the greatly improved naval combat in "Brave New World", the AI does not know how to properly conduct a marine invasion. Play an archipelago map and watch the AI send dozens of embarked land units at you without escorts, which naturally leads to them being utterly massacred if you made even a token investment in actual combat ships, and leaves the attacking civ nearly defenseless for when you counter-invade.
The AI does not seem to know ranged units can move and shoot in the same turn, thus wasting much of the units' potential.
In the World Congress, two of the potential options to propose are Arts Funding and Science Funding. Arts Funding boosts the production of Great Artists, Writers, and Musicians and drops the production of Great Merchants, Engineers, and Scientists, while Science Funding does the reverse. Generally, the former three units, though not useless in other hands, are most effective while aiming for a Cultural Victory (since they increase tourism), while the latter three are more useful for everyone else. Despite this, the AI seems to really like proposing and voting for Arts Funding, even when its civ has no interest in tourism whatsoever.
Not so much costly errors as wasting of real time, but sometimes units on roads will, within a single turn, repeatedly go back and forth on the road until who knows when.
This one is a little worse, especially since it affects you. Whenever you tell a unit to go somewhere more than one region away, it will plot a way to get there, taking into account the terrain it can cross vs. the terrain it has to encounter... but not allied borders until you get there. Allied borders may not be crossed without starting a war, and if a unit you just told to go somewhere without guiding it around borders may try for a little bit to found a way around, but will then forget everything it's learned and charge at the border again, only to be deflected. If you don't Cancel Move, it will waste many turns doing that.
Purchase the Democracy perk and your production and culture increase greatly, but at the cost of your Congress vetoing you whenever you try to declare war or refuse peace offers from rival civs. The other civs understand this limitation, and will liberally abuse it by attacking and capturing one of your cities, quickly offering you peace so you can't do anything about it, and repeating the process from there. And Congress never lets you refuse the peace offer or launch a counter-attack to reclaim your city, no matter how obvious it is that you're being played.
This works right back at them so long as they stay in Democracy. Most AIs refuse to let a war declaration slide and will not give you peace until at least one turn passes (even though they should be forced to, they cheat), giving them a turn to switch out of Democracy before deciding. However, combine this with the Great Wall wonder (enemies cannot declare or remain at war with you while it is in effect) and you can hogtie the AI while it cannot even lift a finger against you, and forgives your every action.
The AIs are normally pretty good at guarding their settlers. Caravans, spies, and Great People? Not so much. They regularly lose caravans to stationary barbarian huts, will leave any spies they capture sitting in the exact spot they took them from you, and only rarely place their own spies to protect their own settled GP. Even on Deity.
The AI creates exceptions to settler guarding rules. IF they don't see any enemy units nearby, they'll let their Settler (2 moves) outrun its escort unit (normally a defensive unit like an Archer, 1 move). While this is more foolhardy or risky rather than stupid, the AI normally keeps such a tight grip on its Settlers that they'll sometimes march an entire army out with their first Settler, leaving only a single defending Archer or Warrior to defend the city and you can guess what happens next. Especially if you are sitting nearby waiting for this happen with a horseman army or two...
More rarely: When an AI unlocks a new defensive unit tier (like Pikemen after Archers), it will attempt to upgrade its defenses ASAP in any way possible. In Civ Rev, units cannot be directly upgraded with gold, however you can sell units and use the gold to rush new ones. The problem is, you can only rush one unit per city per turn; armies require three units to form. So you'll sometimes see these fantastic blunders where the AI will sell its Archer army (or armies) to pay for new pikemen, but leave itself vulnerable for a few turns while it only has single units defending instead of an army, which is much stronger.
Once an AI gets Flight, you can expect them to gloriously kamikaze their fighters into the nearest city defender as soon as they can when at war with you. Nevermind that Fighters are meant to specifically counter Bomber units, and are better at picking off vulnerable units like single ships or offensive units that have much lower defense than defensive units in cities. Or that even if they beat the defending units, that air units cannot capture cities.
Rather amusing one: What happens when an AI is exploring with a boat and gets blocked from where they are trying go by borders or units in the way? Why, they sell it of course! Why bother going another direction or recalling the boat for another function elsewhere, after putting those resources and turns into it? It would be much better to sell it immediately for considerable loss in the exchange rate of production/gold and those turns burned away irreversibly, right?
Civ VI is notorious for Breaking the Fourth Wall by having AI opponents declare war on you for no reason other than because you are too close to winning the game, even if they were complimenting or even tributing you a few turns before. Any kind of diplomacy has to allow, not just for the other leaders' own intelligence, but for the game's overall agenda; and any victory other than military becomes exceptionally difficult, because no matter how nice you have been, every country will try to wipe you out if it will stop you reaching a victory condition.
As of September 2017, almost a year since the release of the game, the AI's ability to handle war is still laughably poor. Almost everything bad about the AI in V is either still present or is taken Up to 11. It is commonplace for an opponent to declare war on a human player, for the human player to defend without putting any offensive pressure whatsoever on the opponent, and then, on the turn that peace becomes an option, for the opponent to offer all of their luxuries, gold, and cities (besides their capital) in exchange for peace.
Even on the higher levels of difficulty, the AI will often agree to obviously unfair city exchanges- like trading their densely-populated city in an area rich with resources, housing some Secret Projects, for some sea colony newly founded, lost deep in the ocean with next to no resources; They are also prone to declaring war on you if you have adopted a civic they hate (like green economy for Morgan), even if your faction is clearly overpowering theirs.
The SMAC AI also tends to be a bit warmonger-ey, with some civs inevitably sliding towards war with the player (i.e. you) over time. Of course, if you don't have much in the way of a military by then, their overconfidence is anything but...
The AI also doesn't check whether you have units in your allies' cities and so will launch absolutely stupid surprise attacks against you, by attacking a city that you don't own but do have units in.
The way priorities are assigned for AI personalities leads to some enormously stupid behavior. For example, Miriam Godwinson is highly aggressive and expansionistic, a combination that often leads to her establishing an excessive number of cities and then completely focusing production to build swarms of weak low-tech units instead of infrastructure. Miriam will also build sea colonies in oceanic trenches, where it's completely impossible to improve the surrounding tiles or get any kind of resource yield.
The AI for the computer game Master of Magic was about as dumb as it got. It would do things like trade Great Drake (1200 research points) for Hell Hound (45 research points), keep huge armies around and then do nothing with them, load up elite units onto weak transport ships and then run them at powerful warfleets, and waste all its mana throwing firebolt after firebolt at a unit that was immune to fire. But for me, the crowning moment of stupid was when the following occurs. Freyja casts Nature's revenge, a spell that attacks all of a player's cities with an earthquake whenever that player casts a chaos or death spell. Jafar, who had taken some red books in this game, casts time stop, and while the rest of us are paralyzed, summons hellhounds about 60 times. When he lets go of the time stop, every single one of his cities is in ruins. The game needed to give itself triple on almost all relevant resources to keep up with a decent player to make it even somewhat competitive.
A lot of this was remedied with the 1.31 patch for Master of Magic. Some of it still applies though.
In Europa Universalis II, the AI does not know the army attrition rules. You can bring pretty much any enemy to his knees by letting him besiege one of your fortresses with his entire 60,000-man army while you send small forces to take over the rest of his territory. By the time you're done, attrition will have brought his army down to a size where you can take him easily, even if he started out 6 times your size.
Europa Universalis III has a bug that's survived years of expansions and constant patching known as the Naval AI Death Spiral. Every country has a limit of how many naval units it can support, and as it goes above that unit, every ship is has gets an exponentially-growing penalty to upkeep, meaning the country has to pay more for each additional ship. The limit depends on the number of provinces a country has. If it's near this limit and loses a few provinces in a war, then it can suddenly be above the limit. The AI doesn't know to disband ships when it can no longer afford them. This increased cost often leads to bankruptcy, which makes the country significantly weaker and even more vulnerable to neighbors and rebellion. It loses more and more land, incurring greater and greater penalties due to the size of its navy, eventually collapsing altogether.
While the diplomacy system is thankfully more advanced than in many other strategy games, it still has its weird moments, such as the far-off one-province minor ally of that big enemy you're currently fighting who has done nothing to aid their ally so far and would in fact be totally crushed if you actually bothered to move troops over there trying to blackmail you into giving up your vassals and paying them most of your treasury's content just so that they, and only they, remove themselves from this war.
In the Stronghold series, the easiest way to defeat a computer-controlled opponents to take out their water wells and set their fortress on fire.Since the shape and arrangement of the enemy castle is predetermined, whenever a building is destroyed they would build it again on the exact same spot, while it was still on fire, and repeat until either the fire somehow died out or the enemy ran out of resources and gold. All of this while all their soldiers and civilians die, without the enemy even thinking of moving them away.
In Star Trek: Armada the AI will continually send ships through a chokepoint even if you've got dozens of ships filling it full of bombs going off constantly. Thus racking up hundreds or thousands of kills. The AI will do it until it runs out of resources, or if they have infinite resources, until you get bored enough to kill them.
In the Star Trek: Starfleet Command series, the AI is all over the map with idiocy, especially ally AI. They won't follow orders, they refuse to move in close to enemies, they don't fire at enemies or only fire certain weapons, they cloak and decloak randomly. In the third game, if you're playing a difficult mission or one that takes a while to beat (such as Starbase Assault or Planetary Assault), it's almost a guarantee that one of your wingmen will self-destruct for no reason at all, even if it never took a hit during the battle.
The "planetary viceroy" AI in Master of Orion III, supposedly there to help run your empire for you and eliminate the need for micromanagement, is pretty much your main adversary for the duration of the game. It usually manages to hinder your efforts far more efficiently than the equally incompetent computer-controlled opponents.
In Supreme Commander, since the game has infinite resources, if you heavily fortify your base, the enemy will attack again and again until they are defeated, potentially losing tens of thousands of units—which you can then turn into resources. This is especially notable in some of the campaign missions, where the enemy would repeatedly attack with the same force, even though your base had gone from a tiny outpost to a huge, heavily shielded and fortified behemoth.
On island maps, the AI often builds a horde of low-tech land units with no regard to how they're supposed to get to the enemy base. Even on the hardest difficulty settings.
Even more annoying is that they'll often build loads of dropships, and then almost never use them. In the campaign the only ones it uses spawn fully loaded as scripted attacks.
It is also incredibly easy to win in the expansion pack Forged Alliance by getting an endless stream of aircraft built, and having them go straight into patrolling across the majority of the map, denying the AI valuable mass deposits. Note: fighting for, and defending mass deposits was made much more important in the expansion to encourage conflicts and reduce turtling. It is incredibly easy to screw over the AI this way, never giving him a chance to expand, whilst making your own economy unstoppable. Even the supposed "adaptable" AI never really catches onto the endless swarms of aircraft, producing only a token handful of anti-air units.
The AI in general is sub-par, even for strategy game AI. By default, it builds almost no Anti-Air, even when being attacked by air units, holds massive amounts of units in reserve (IE: Keeping about 50 tanks out in the middle of nowhere while it's base is being steamrolled) for no reason, waits on building Naval Forces until it has a massive (and useless, especially on ocean-based maps!) land force, and never seems to rely on artillery, tactical missiles, or strategic missiles (nukes) to crack bases, instead sending endless streams of troops that'll never even get a shot off.
It's also known to march its Commander (and losing your Commander means you INSTANTLY LOSE) into suicidal attacks, such as straight into defenses, into the middle of high-tier units, and at enemy Commanders. Having the enemy commander basically blow himself up and take your base down with him is incredibly frustrating.
The AI doesn't do well with mods that alter the resource system. Two of those are bundled with Forged Alliance: One where resource output is vastly increased (so you only need a few mass extractors and power plants) and one where only the ACU produces resources (but more than usual). They can also be combined. The AI still builds mass extractors all over the map and thereby wastes productive capacity. It also doesn't occur to it to just build a metric crapload of Experimentals ... like you do right now.
Age of Mythology island maps have produced a whole spread of dumbass moves the AI does automatically. As in, Norse opponents turn all their resource collectors into Heroes of Ragnarok without bothering to produce enough transports to attack. At this point, the nicest thing you can do is attack.
Play the random map "Land Unknown" which auto-generates a unique map. Sometimes this creates water on one edge of the map, that only one player has direct access to. The AI will still build their navy on this water, including transports that don't have anywhere to go.
The "River Styx" map is the height of bad AI programming: the players start in a small island with few resources and have to move to the bigger island as soon as possible. But for some reason, AI players just refuse to leave the island. More often than not they also refuse to hunt boars, which are the only food source in the map, unless you build farms... which require you to advance to the Classical age, and you need 400 food units for that, so yeah...
On the first skirmish-mode map in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade (called something like "Abandon All Hope"). The AI just doesn't seem to understand such things as "putting troops on the island in the middle will let them fire rocket launchers straight at the enemy command centre". And in any map, they don't get their turrets to fire at different targets, so an ethereal Necron wraith or a rally tough unit can soak up fire while everyone else blows up the turret.
An extremely annoying one as it affects your units and not the AI: When attacked in melee, squads will repond in melee (done deliberately, so as to counter heavy ranged units). However, telling a ranged unit to attack a unit that's been knocked down (as opposed to attack-moving to a point near them) will also cause them to attack in melee. Even in the grim darkness of the far future, Kick Them While They're Down is evidently the most blasphemous of heresies.
Most if not all the factions have a marked tendency to build their bases in a way that leaves their vehicles trapped behind their own buildings, most noticeably with the Imperial Guard ending up with three tanks costing more than half their cap sitting idle while their men get torn to bits (perhaps general Chenkov is in charge...). It does, however, make attacking their base more annoying, since their tanks qualify as medium-range artillery, and parked where you can't get at them...
The "Assassination" mode has every player start out with their Hero Unit, the catch being that they all become a Keystone Army. To its credit, the AI will usually attach it to a squad as soon as it's available. To its detriment, the AI attaches it to the weakest squad... and then doesn't switch out.
A rather bizarre example occurs in Dawn of War 2. The enemies usually have enough sense to run away from a thrown satchel charge before it explodes. However, having detected a remote-controlled bomb (which is much more powerful then a satchel), they start shooting and hacking at it...while standing literally on top of it. Ludicrous Gibs ensue.
Overlapping with Spiteful A.I., Dawn of War 2's AI is notoriously◊ obsessed with resource points, and will happily ignore the task of "building its armies" or "attacking the enemy forces" if it means disrupting your control of them. This frequently leads to them charging Fragile Speedster squads onto resource points, just to decapture them, even if they lose the whole squad in the process.
The AI apparently does not understand the concept that land-based units can't cross water, and will make anti-nuke launchers without making the missiles for them to launch.
Also if you manage to choke the only exit from the enemy base with dragon teeth, the AI will build stuff until all the space is filled with useless crap so that nothing can move anymore.
The AI's entire pattern is simply to build random things and send them to attack the nearest enemy unit. User mods somewhat improve it by tweaking the odds of building each unit, but mostly they just cheat horribly to make up for it.
The AI in the following game, Total Annihilation: Kingdoms, did the same. Since units increased in power every time they had a kill, and since the enemy would never attack walls, bottleneck death-zones of guard towers would reach nigh-impregnable status.
Stairwells and narrow passages: small units generally didn't have much trouble, but ordering - say - a group of Dragoons up an elevated area always resulted in a few making it through, a few behind those staying in the way, and all the others deciding the passage was blocked and cheerfully going back and taking the ridiculously long, and quite possibly enemy-infested, route along the whole elevated area.
Goliaths are just as stupid as Dragoons, if not more so. That's because they both use the Hydralisk's pathfinding subroutine, but are physically larger units, will engage and follow enemies as if they are air units, even thought they cant fly, and don't automatically disengage enemy units that they can no longer follow or see.
Also, in multiplayer, try a Zerg Rush or similar strategy to knock out one computer opponent early on, but leave one of his buildings alive (preferably a support building that can't produce units) and set up an expansion there. The other computer-controlled enemies will focus almost exclusively on recapturing that base.
In a 1v1 against a computer, try sending in a peon to attack their mineral line. Once you get their attention, run. The computer's ENTIRE ECONOMY will chase you all over the map, leaving you free to harvest and build at your leisure. GG
Maybe Blizzard's just been too lazy to seriously reprogram their AI, but the Starcraft 2 beta STILL DID THIS.
They improved chokepoint pathfinding in Starcraft 2 to the point where you can/could cheat by ordering a unit into a potential enemy base location under the fog of war — if it took the long route this meant the main entrance was blocked, in other words, there was a terran player there.
Cloaked units can wreak havoc on the AI army if they lack mobile detector units. If an outpost with no detector buildings is attacked by cloaked units, the AI will often send their entire army to investigate. Without a detector to back them up, the army can be demolished by the cloaked units.
The developers themselves admitted to taking shortcuts with the AI. In fact, the only reason they didn't make the game's Campaign Editor more flexible, was to hide the fact that the AI is not programmed to handle major changes to the game, as it operates entirely on assumptions.
Dungeon Keeper: Monsters who could not find a path to the treasure room to get paid, or could not find a path back to their lair, or a "helpful" AI that would put monsters across locked doors (that you shut to keep the monsters where you wanted them), etc.
The enemy keeper in Snuggledell frequently believes that he can win using only a level 1 fly and a level 1 imp.
The Nintendo Wars games are usually pretty reliable, but the first Advance Wars game overestimated the importance of supplies in the game (they're only essential in 100-turn epics where there's a high rate of attrition, air units or artillery at choke points). The AI would attack APCs almost exclusively, ignoring nearby units that would ream them in retaliation, or even the infantry capturing their HQ that will win the game next turn.
AI characters in the game were programmed to use their CO powers essentially as soon as they got access to them. Olaf's power mimicked the 'snow' weather effect, which lasted exactly one set of turns - it started on a CO's turn and stopped at the start of their next turn. An AI Olaf would use it even if it was already snowing and, yes, if it had only started snowing on Olaf's turn.
On particularly dodgy maps where an AI Colin is essentially handed an I Win button, he's been known to use his basic power, which gives him a 50% money boost...when his money is already at maximum. Black Hole Rising can only handle cash up to 999999.
The AI in the first game also tended to beeline its infantry towards your HQ, generally ignoring your units. They'll only rarely ever attack with their infantry and mechs.
Usually the computer will have a few units that will stay in one place and not move unless you send something into their range. In the earlier games they would immediately go charging after your unit and attack it, completely ignoring any other units nearby, making it possible to lure a strong unit into position with an infantry, then pound it with several other units that were lying in wait. They have gotten better in later games though - now if you have too many units lying in wait, the AI will actually realize it would be a bad idea to attack and stay away.
The AI will build a lander and load ground units into it, even if you block the port and it can't move.
One glaring example is the mission Test of Time in Advance Wars 2. It's a 14-day survival mission, where you have to hold a chokepoint against overwhelming odds... in theory. In practice, building absolutely nothing will result in the AI cluttering your base with units to the point where infantry can't reach the HQ because of other stuff already being there, thus giving you the win without trying. This happens reliably.
Dual Strike exploits this trope. The second fronts in the DS War Room maps are designed to be won much faster with Auto CO off, but you'll get more experience if you leave it on.
The PC version of the classic boardgame Axis & Allies routinely makes utterly brain-dead moves, especially in purchasing units. Any AI running the United Kingdom, for example, will routinely spend almost all of its resources on submarines, turn after turn, even if the Germans possess absolutely no ships to attack.
In Front Mission 3's AI always goes after whichever unit you put down first on the map; you can leave your first placed unit at the start point and venture out with your other three, and the AI will go crazy trying to kill your first unit. Oops.
Black & White 2 introduced army fighting to the series, but what with all the other complexities of the game the AI suffered a little - it was possible, faced with a vast opposing horde, to send your Creature to attack them, then have it run away into the countryside. The entire enemy force would give chase, leaving your own soldiers free to sack their cities.
In many of the Super Robot Wars games, the enemy AI for grunts tends to prioritize them toward the "weakest" unit within their attack radius (That, or Shoot the Medic First). However, "weakness" in SRW is relative: the units with the lowest armor and HP tend to be the units that can dodge anything you throw at them with the right pilot. Thus, the computer tends to waste time and ammo trying to hit a unit it simply has no chance of hitting, minus the intervention of the Random Number God.
Conversely, in some games they go for units with the higher HP. While that means they prioritize battleships (And if one falls it's a game over), it also means ignoring half-dead units and going after that healthy Super Robot who will take Scratch Damage and kill them on the counterattack.
The automatic combat setup for your units isn't too smart either. Small, crunchy units with Defense Support will gladly jump in to soak hits for massive, heavily-armored SuperRobots. Also, the automatic attack selection will pick the weakest attack the robot has that will destroy the enemy. This occasionally leads to a Gundam deciding to use its limited-ammo Vulcan over its completely free Beam Saber, or GaoGaiGar using energy on Broken Magnum when it could walk up and hit the enemy. Finally, recent games that have pilots automatically elect to dodge or defend when the oncoming attack would destroy them, but the evasion threshold for some pilots is oddly low - Real units have been known to try to reduce their chance to be hit from 5% to 3% rather than take a counterattack. All of these, mercifully, can be overridden by the player.
A good instance of Artificial Stupidity comes from the enemies with their MAP attacks. Normally a MAP would hit every enemy in its radius, but an enemy will refrain from using it on the off chance that one of their allied units would be hit. Makes many a boss easier. Except bosses with Friendly Fireproof MAP attacks (At least you get some of those too).
Lune Zoldork from Super Robot Wars 3 would go Leeroy Jenkins against Carozzo's mobile suit army as a neutral unit, which starks a lot of problems. First, while she's a decent character, she is so frail she dies in three hits. Second, you can't heal her. Third, she will attack you if you're trying to stop her. Worst of all, in order to recruit her, you need to wipe out Carozzo's army first before you can disarm her safely.
Ninja Senshi Tobikage, in the games he appears in, loves to combine this with Annoying Video Game Helper - but most notorious is his appearance in UX, where one mission requires you to reduce a certain enemy to 10% health without killing them (since they've captured one of the protagonists) or fail the mission. Tobikage's AI perceives said enemy as the biggest target. Tobikage has enough strength to kill said enemy in one hit. Do the math.
In the Total War games, the computer doesn't seem to grasp that positioning its troops within range of your archers or turrets is a bad idea.
Sticking a couple phalanxes (pike walls that are virtually invincible from the front to non-phalanx units) at the edge of a bridge will result in the AI suicide-charging them. The battle AI also doesn't see a need to protect its flanks and is usually unfazed by the player taking his cavalry around the AI's back. Before Medieval II, enemy generals also enjoyed suicide-charging ahead of their armies. The AI logic must have been something like, 'I want a strong unit to charge. The general is the strongest unit. Therefore the general must charge.' What An Idiot.
Witness what happens when two sides use WAY too much cavalry to fight on a bridge. Most of them end up drowning themselves.
AI armies do not seem to take arrows (or any missile unit ranging from slingers to catapults) very seriously. Marching your army up to your enemy's so your archers are just in range will allow you to decimate their ranks. The enemy army will simply stand and take it (unless your archers are exposed, in which case they might attempt a cavalry charge.) This is even worse when an AI army is attempting to assault a city. If you destroy a piece of their siege equipment, the unit that was operating it will stand around it (or, at best, regroup behind it) allowing your archers and towers to pick them off.
The campaign AI is suicidally overconfident. Factions with only one or two small villages will attack their much larger and much more powerful neighbors for no adequately explained reason.
It's kind of funny that the in-game tutorials will heavily stress the fact that charging a cavalry unit into an enemy spear unit head-on is a BAD idea. Because it is. Yet at some point, probably sooner rather than later, you're almost guaranteed to witness an AI opponent completely ignoring sensible advice like this, by charging cavalry units into your spearmen. Bonus points if they brainlessly charge cavalry into a phalanx unit, especially if it's light cav. It's almost insulting how ignorant the game itself is towards its own Rock-Paper-Scissors elements. Mounted units versus a wall of spearmen? Forget it, chaaarge!
The plethora of artificial stupidity in this game (and in the series in general) not only applies to an AI-controlled army, but to your own units' AI, when they have to maneuver around some unconventional terrain. The worst side of this usually occurs during sieges. Properly getting units to climb a wall sometimes ends up being a nightmare, even worse is trying to get them back down. The main problem is usually that a unit isn't going to get into a formation properly until ALL members of the unit have caught up. If you move a unit towards the city center but a few guys in the unit are somehow way behind and still running to catch up with the rest, it can take forever. Turned Up to 11 when it's a phalanx unit; "sir, we can't move into phalanx mode, one of our guys isn't nearby!" Facepalming ensues.
In Medieval II: Total War, it is possible for heavily outnumbered enemy forces to retreat to the corner of the map...and then sit there, not moving the final few feet needed to end the battle and escape, while you pummel them to death with your ranged units.
That is, if you have enough ranged units to take him out. Otherwise, you are faced with a very dense enemy formation with no flanks or the rear. Good luck with that.
The campaign map AI is similarly problematic. In the original RTW it was prone to declaring war on the player even when in a much weaker position, and completely refusing all and any offers of peace even as it was being beaten black and blue. Sometimes it even declared war by using a vastly inferior force to attack a large army of yours. The incidence of this happening was decreased by later patches, but it still happens. It is also possible for enemy factions to ask you to become trading partners and declare war you during the same turn.
After much play, the AI is known to simply determine its enemies based on either trade routes or adjacent provinces, with some special coded wars set to happen. Of course, this results in the AI declaring war on its closest allies even if they are vastly more powerful once they have too many close provinces. It also means that you have no chance to maintain peace, ever, because you're always the mortal enemy of somebody.
Another favorite 'trick' of the AI was to decide to stab you in the back and then totally throw away the advantage of surprise by just attacking a ship or two rather than going for a general assault.
It's usually a strength of computers but the enemy AI often has trouble counting. It will attack provinces with a force that, if you put up any resistance at all, will win but no longer be sufficient to stop the conquered lands rebelling. With the games somewhat random selection of what units an uprising is awarded it is quite possible for a defender to come out of an initially successful enemy offensive twice as strong as when it started.
In Empire: Total War, the campaign AI in the unpatched version was unable to transport troops by ship. In a game that includes three continents, and dozens of islands. Thus the UK is invincible to non-player enemies, for example.
You'll often see things like the AI, should its regiments of musketeers be flanked, opt to have them shoot from the narrow side of their formation rather than wheel around to face your unit. It will also always send its cavalry units in a very wide flanking maneuver, even if your entire back and flanks are covered by pikemen, running all the way so its cavalry ends up exhausted before even joining the fray. There's also the infamous "melee bug", a holdover from older titles, which causes the AI to favor melee over shooting matches with its hybrid units (that is, units that can both shoot and duke it out), even if a shooting match would be in its complete advantage. It wasn't that noticeable in older titles, where such units were relatively rare, but in a game where almost all units are hybrids... You'll also often see it reforming its entire line within range of your muskets, and thus getting slaughtered. Finally, its equally infamous friendly fire: musketeers behind the main line will happily shoot at you through their friends, with predictable results. Note that this is also true of your units, which is why you should turn "fire at will" off for reserve units. The AI, however, doesn't. And don't get me started on artillery behaviors (and AI telepathic responses to yours)...
the aforementioned Melee bug is what made the Mughal empire such a difficult army in the end game. As all their units have more men than the european armies, a melee match quickly becomes impossible
When the AI loses a certain number of men from its musket formations it will immediately order them to form square. The square formation is a counter cavalry tactic and it quarters your firepower. Not a good tactic when you're being shot by lines of infantry and there are no cavalry on the battlefield.
Not to mention that the campaign AI is still as idiotic as ever. Enemy factions are still notoriously hesitant to surrender, even when you've conquered all but one of their provinces and that last province is currently under siege. Since the AI is coded to essentially declare war on all its neighbours from the get-go, this means that you will be fighting wars pretty much constantly. This being so, it also results in the AI declaring war on their neighbours despite having no soldiers on their borders.
The AI in Medieval: Total War had a fixed strategy for attacking castles, in which they plant their army just out of range of the towers, and then send one unit at a time to attack the gate. By the time they actually break through to where your army is waiting, they've often lost half their troops. Better yet, they tend to send their general in as soon as the gates are down, and if you manage to overwhelm the general, the rest of the army will run away. And then they'll try again the next year...
Another "fun" thing the AI likes to do in Medieval II: Total War (especially evident with the Mongolians and the Timurids) is siege your heavily-defended cities (i.e. towers fire cannonballs) and just stand there while your defensive fire slowly reduces their ranks until they run away. This is a Boring, but Practical way to win these battles and not lose a single soldier. Or you can just constantly send a unit out, causing some of their units to move in for the kill... right in the range of your wall archers, and moving your unit back inside. The AI will fall for that every time. In Pre-Patch Rome, they will send the entire army won't even return to their positions, leaving them right in front of your towers.
The AI in Total War: Shogun 2 is a vast improvement over previous editions, but it still suffers from crippling quirks:
When defending a castle or fort, the AI is often hesitant to the point of suicide about not leaving the fort grounds. This is because being inside a fort grants a large morale bonus and the AI is unwilling to lose it voluntarily by sallying out to meet you. This often means a relatively tiny force of ashigaru archers (among the cheapest units in the game) can win sieges simply because the enemy does nothing but stand still and take volley after volley of fire.
The expansion Fall of the Samurai has absolutely no idea what to do about artillery. It will march blindly into the face of cannons without much thought. This is mostly due to the AI being almost identical to the base Shogun 2 AI, which pretty much never needed to worry about long-range shelling.
Also something of a bit of Fridge Brilliance, since you're bringing contemporary weapons into a far less technologically advanced culture. They legitimately have no idea what to do about it or what to expect.
Age of Empires AI players are very inflexible. In one scenario with a King Lion right beside a computer player's town center, the computer player kept making its villagers try to build a house, ignoring the lion, until it ran itself out of food.
They will also send out villagers to repair a building even though the building is being destroyed by 10 swordsmens that can kill the poor villager in one hit. And he will not stop it until it's gone.
In another scenario where you start out on a tiny little island with two houses, some villagers, a scout and a transport, and you need to travel to the resource-laden mainland to set up your civilization, the AIs never leave their island. Makes it a ridiculously easy game to win.
Age of Empires II improved the AI. Then in the expansion they made it stupider again, apparently feeling they'd gone too far.
Although even in 2 they left a major blind spot in the AI. Computer controlled soldiers were programmed to not attack gates, only walls. So all you had to do was construct all your fortifications out of gates, and they'd never come close. Or if you wanted to really rub the AI's nose in its own idiocy, when it has its entire economy and/or production facilities behind walls, simply build one of your gates directly in front of its, and it will never be able to leave its own town.
Another flaw in the AI was the way a travelling army behaves. While moving in formation towards its destination (often quite slow due to the siege equipment), the AI would completely ignore any attacks and/or threats, allowing the player to destroy the AI's army without taking a scratch.
The third game fixed most of the obvious bugs but for some reason in the Asian Dynasties expansion the AI places a bizarrely high weight on building the comically expensive Mercenary units, invariably leaving itself with a homogeneous, easily countered, and tiny army of units outperformed by much cheaper upgraded standard units.
In the World War II RTS Company of Heroes, the AI is exceptionally dumb, sending basic units against tanks, sending infantry against machinegun emplacements without even flanking, and never upgrading. While you have tanks that could kill even the most advanced infantry with nothing even close to a sweat, the AI will still be sending out the basic unit with the basic gun.
It will normally only resort to this tactic if it's been cut off from fuel supplies and so can't produce better units. A much larger problem is its total inability to understand when it's best to breach obstacles rather then bypass them. This lets you funnel them into killzones if you block off an important bridge or other area with barbed wire and tank traps.
In fact, the AI can be so stupid at times that it will randomly mass every last one of its units on a destructable bridge if the game goes on for long enough, without even needing to place obstacles to encourage it.
Evident on a smaller scale when squad AI has a consistent habit of running out of cover to shoot, despite being ordered to stand behind a perfectly good wall.
This gets to the point where the cover AI will sometimes be ordered to use cover, and will use it, on the side of the wall where they're getting shot at from.
Reversed for the sniper, who always ran to the nearest cover (and never needs to) when told to take the shot. Fixed in latest patch.
The second game also has its moments of artificial stupidity (especially if they're your "allies" in skirmish games):
A patch for the Oberkommando West (OKW) changed the gameplay where the OKW player must now manually build supply half-tracks (which turn into buildings essential for teching up) instead of having them delivered automatically in timed intervals. Unfortunately, the Oberkommando West AI still acts as if the supply half-tracks are delivered to it automatically instead of actually building one or two so it can tech up. The result? The Oberkommando West AI simply spams its most basic units (Volksgrenadiers, Sturmpioneers, Kubelwagens and Raketenwerfers) instead of teching up and building more powerful units higher in the tech tree.
The lack of proactivity in teching up isn't just limited to the OKW AI teammate. Soviet, Wehrmacht, US and British AI teammates only bother to tech up once a certain condition or trigger is reached—losing enough of its units. But sometimes, those AI teammates would simply retreat understrength squads back to base in order to avoid losing them—without bothering to tech up or even reinforce (see next entry) the aforementioned understrength squads. It gets annoying to the point that sometimes, the only way to trigger an AI teammate to tech up is to teamkill the squads that do not reinforce at their base. While that might be in character for the Soviets or the Wehrmacht and OKW factions, it gets a little unsightly for the Western (US and British) factions.
Ally AI bots rarely bother to reinforce depleted squads even if you park an unupgraded half-track (or American ambulance) close to them or have a forward structure that can reinforce themNote The Soviet Urban Defense Commander's "Forward Headquarters" ability, Wehrmacht Command Bunkers, forward-deployed OKW Battlegroup Headquarters, or British Forward Assemblies, while the enemy AI has no problems doing just that. And this is even if the game's population cap settings are increased! What's worse is that if you look at the replays, the ally AI bots noticeably have a good pool of manpower (and fuel, and ammo).
The allied AI also has a tendency to close in its ranged infantry squads (that usually use slow-firing bolt-action rifles) against infantry who do better at close range (e.g.: Osttruppen closing in against ShockTroops), resulting in one-sided curb-stomps.
Ally AI bots don't respond to the human player's requests to attack or retake captured enemy territory. While the first game had options to order the allied AI to attack or defend a position and actually complies (attacking or defending as best they could—at least once, but it's sometimes enough), the second game only has an "Attack Here" ping button that the allied AI doesn't respond to when activated—even if they already have enough units to do so.
The allied AI also has no concept of "luring in the enemy" towards the human player's prepared positions that can easily deal with the threat. What makes the last part Egregious is that the enemy AI can and will do defensive feint traps on occasion, but when the AI is allied with a human player, they go from brilliant to brain-dead—and this happens even if both ally and enemy AI are set at the same difficulty level at the start of the game.
The AI doesn't even know how to make full use of their selected commanders. For example, the Soviet and Wehrmacht's Defensive commanders (available to the player only if they register their game with their email and actual name, or during annual DLC sales events) can build tank traps to limit vehicle movement. When the AI selects those commanders, they don't bother to build them.
Instead of using general-purpose Intelligence Bulletins for bread-and-butter units that are useful no matter what commander the player chooses, the AI player prefers to waste a slot or two with an Intelligence Bulletin that's for a commander-specific unit—and instead chooses a different commander that doesn't have the unit that can benefit from the aforementioned Intelligence Bulletin.
Units in Battalion Wars and its sequel aren't that smart — of course, this may be to make sure manual control is more efficient. A glaring case, however, is the Battlestation in the final mission of Battalion Wars 2, as if it's AI controlled, it seems to have to be like two meters away from the Mining Spider before starting to attack it. According to a friend, it turns out the Battlestation attacks the guns that fire the weak lasers—something that the Heavy Tanks can fortunately take care of to save time — but you can't lock onto the guns yourself. Best part? You also get Fighters, which are far harder to control than the Battlestation which shouldn't require so much intelligence to use at all, but under player control, the Fighters can total the enemy air force that threatens anything else.
In Dominions 3, battlefield AI is not that smart, which is a problem since you can only control your units for the first 5 turns. It's very frustrating to watch your mages summon weak units one at a time on the complete opposite side of the battlefield from the fight, when a nice battle evocation would totally turn the tide. A mage, surrounded by bodyguards, may cast Fire Shield (a ring of fire surrounds you), killing his bodyguards, then die to an enemy charge. At least the AI on the computer side is equally stupid.
In Dune II, you can stop the AI's attacks on your base by building four sections of wall at just the right spot. The AI units that arrive to attack can't manage to find a way around it, and just sit there. As long as no player units approach, they sit still, and the enemy doesn't send out more attackers.
In another mission, the AI suddenly sends out a group of soldiers into an empty corner of the map for no reason at all, and they remain there, not moving, until the end of the mission.
Far more obviously in Dune II, the enemy will keep throwing units at your base defense turrets uselessly even as your actual troops are in the process of leveling their base.
Freeciv's computer players are extremely stubborn with "their" territory - build a city on any square they consider to be "theirs," and they'll raze the city - without any diplomacy scene or change in relationship. In fact, if you then attack one of their cities, they'll blame you for starting the war.
Bungie's Myth games are generally considered to have a decent AI, with one exception: ranged units do not check if friendly units are near their targets. So if you fail to micromanage your dwarves, they will gleefully chuck grenades into the middle of the melee.
Bungie has tirelessly maintained that this is not a bug, but a feature. Keeping your ranged units in check is simply part of your job.
The AI in Planet M.U.L.E. has some interesting trains of thought, particularly with respect to buying and selling:
Land auction starting at $120? don't bother. Land auction starting at $350? MUST HAVE!
Crystals selling for $70? SELL EVERYTHING! (for reference, it sells for $100 on average)
Do I have Smithore? SELL IT!
The Trope is actually justified in the 1983 version on the hardest difficulty setting, as the price and availability of worker M.U.L.E.s is based on how much Smithore the Store/town owns. Also, because it's a 12-turn game when you do this, the Pirates will ALWAYS show up to steal all of the Smithore/Chrystite at least once — you might as well sell it while you can!
Aw, does that player not have enough energy? is the store empty? well, tough, I'm gonna hoard my energy even though I'll lose more to spoiling than I would selling it to the player.
Did another player sell ONE UNIT OF ENERGY? SELL DOWN TO + 1 SURPLUS!
Do I have no surplus? BUY UP TO + 1 SURPLUS!
Compounding the issue (and inducing Fridge Logic) is that occasionally, players will gain money off of "Artificial Dumbness investments".
This is all particularly egregious when the original 1983 game's computer players were quite capable.
The AI on any level below hard in Rise of Nations is either extremely suicidal, extremely overconfident, or any combination thereof. Often, the AI nations will demand tribute of you and attack you if you refuse, never mind the fact that your military is making use of tanks, aircraft, and long-range missiles while they just discovered how to make gunpowder.
If an AI faction controls a shipyard, they will keep producing ships, over and over, until they tank their own economy so badly that their units desert in droves. In the first dwarf mission, there's a fairly small underground river that seems to have been built in as a shortcut between two (of many cities) in the depths. The orc AI will usually take the shipyard there and produce so many dragon boats that the game will run out of hexes to place them, so in order to beat the level you can just wait for the orcs to bankrupt themselves.
In the sequel, you can negotiate with rival wizards and trade them spells, resources or locations - and they will trade for a watchtower in your territory right next to a stack of dragons that can retake it at a moment's notice. Even better, you can give them a magic item with a serious drawback (like The Halfling's Ring which gives invisibility (which many high-level units can see through) but increases physical damage by 50%) and the wizard will always equip it.
The AI (at least in the sequel) was incredibly incompetent when it came to defending against airborne attacks - it simply didn't take into account the possibilty that you could just fly right over those mountains dividing your realm from his. This allowed a human player to easily kill an AI wizard, or destroy his most developed cities.
Warzone 2100 has a very thoroughly implemented individual unit AI that micromanages an impressive number of tasks, such as peeling off from formation for repairs past a certain damage threshold and then returning as soon as repairs were complete, or driving around other units instead of into them. The AI is stone dumb. These features will, at best, frequently reduce a competent player to a snarling, hissing wreck. Vital units will peel off for repairs and decide that the best way to a nearby repair station is attempting to drive through an enemy wall of hardcrete and cannon towers, and units in formation will swerve randomly and drunkenly to attempt to avoid driving into the dozen other units, despite all supposedly going in the same direction at the same pace, causing an entire-army pileup in a perfectly empty field.
Also, The enemy AI would, in skirmish games, continue to build Wheeled Viper or Bug chassis vehicles armed with Mini-Rocket Pods (AKA Freaking joke) while you have lasers and Nexus bodies. In short, the enemy makes really sucky tanks, while you have the really powerful. Curb-stomp ensues.
This is due to how the AI valued weapons in terms of strategy. For a long time, the Mini-Rocket Pods were extremely powerful against almost everything - One-Hit Kill powerful, sometimes. Naturally, the AI (and any sane player) would want to build plenty! But then the Pods got nerfed... and the AI didn't learn to start using different weapons. Oops.
In Warcraft II, the AI tends to get stuck in whatever blocks their path.
Be it trees, rocks, buildings, the AI is a complete idiot
That's not even close to how bad the AI can be. It is entirely possible to win sea-based maps that are 5 or 6 comps vs 1 player by putting a tanker on top of the closest patch of oil and just leaving it there. The computer will not build a warship to destroy yours. They will not go to another patch. If they aren't specialized to produce air units, they will just send a bunch of tankers to sit around yours for the whole map, which results in them never getting oil for transports or more warships.
The target priority system causes A.I. controlled units to pause a few seconds when a "high-value" target moves into range. While the dumb computer-controlled unit(s) stands their doing nothing, you can beat them into mulch. This can be demonstrated by moving a Death Knight/Mage into range of attacking units, causing them to pause their activities to gawk at the wizard. Move out of range and they pause to gawk at the unit that now has the highest priority.
Warcraft III: While the AI is more improved, you wish that Blizzard will fix their AI more:
Gameplay Option wise - While the AI does well most of the time, selecting a random hero at the setup of the game can really screw them up, as they will spend the rest of the game with a hero they don't use, in turn skipping the extremely important "get gold and experience from creeps" phase. Other times, they may decide to stop evolving their main building at level two, leaving them with only two heroes, no high-tier units and only the second level of upgrades.
Gameplay wise - The AI seems to not be able to use Ships, despite they can use Zeppelins (albeit not very well most of the time). They are not coded to use Runes and several shop items, such as the Tiny Great Hall. They are not coded to Cancel builds, except while being attacked. They seem to hate warp gates, as they would only use the gate if it's the only way out/shortcut. On Maps that contains Double Gold mines, the AI will tend to only mine one, and leave the other untouched- until another player or AI destroys their base, that is.
Air units, especially in large groups, are very hard for the AI to deal with, especially when focus-firing on whatever can be used for Anti-Air duty. They also react badly to Hit-and-Run Tactics, sending their army rushing towards whatever badly-defended location has been attacked last.
Way gates in general- going through with a few units is fine, the units will even take the way gates if it gets them to their destination faster. But sending entire armies is a complete mess, as the units who haven't gone through stop moving, since they know the destination is already occupied by the previous units (never mind that it was only for a second and that the landing zone is now clear), they'll decide to go halfway across the map unless you repeat the order. And then there's trying to fight in a way gate, with units merrily teleporting back and forth in their earnest efforts to kill each other. Of course, this primarily applies to your units.
Human AI - No Enemy Troops + Tiny Great Hall + Spike Barricade Upgrade = Hilarity Ensues. They also have an unfortunate tendency to upgrade to Keep and Castle with their expansion Town Halls instead of their main Town Hall (or simply not upgrade to Keep at all), meaning that they'll often be stuck with a single Hero and a handful of Footmen and Riflemen at a point in the game where a Human player has gotten 3 Heroes, Gryphon Riders, and Knights. Three guesses who wins.
Undead AI - Creates Haunted Gold Mines, which screws up Other AI (or human) allies who are already building a base. They cannot use the Unsummon ability to salvage for Resources.
Orc AI - Never coded to use the Tiny Great Hall. Kodo beasts will attempt to chase and devour any land unit, if "Visible map" option is on. Blademaster heroes that Wind walks will not escape to safety at times, but instead stays to be killed.
Night Elf AI - They can accidentally box themselves in their own base- The AI was never programmed to uproot their own buildings or destroys trees, except in semi-rare cases. Like the Undead example, their Entangled Gold Mines will screw up their AI allies too. They also don't realize that the Druid of the Claw can transform into a bear, which makes a much better frontline unit than the Squishy Wizard Druid form. Finally, they never use Hippogryphs or the Druid of the Claw's Storm Crow form, the two strongest Anti-Air units in the Night Elf techtree, making them fodder against any air-based army in the lategame (when they've all but stopped training Archers).
While the AI in Galactic Civilizations is usually alarmingly smart, it occasionally suffers from minor glitches. For example, if a mega-event suddenly upgrades all the hitherto useless planets in its home system to class 7 or 8, it will periodically fail to realise that colonies = power and not start building colony ships instantaneously. It also has a bit of an issue with disabled victory conditions, meaning that in a huge game it can research the entire tech tree (which would normally give a tech victory), then leave its now useless research facilities sitting around costing them maintenance funds, rather than, say, replacing them with manufacturing or economic buildings.
Cossacks European Wars: The AI of both your own units and the computers in the skirmish mood were never particular smart. The enemy AI was obsessed with building cheap units (Like mortars and mercenaries) and only using hit and run tactics. He would also quite happily spend hours using grapeshot against buildings, when it was specifically designed for infantry.
Enemy AI in Mech Commander 2 would always focus on the first target to aggro them and ignore everything else. This made it incredibly easy to beat much of the game; send a fast mech in to get their attention and then pull it back to the other side of your squad, and the AI would charge blindly after your 30 ton scout mech and not fire a shot at the 100 ton assault mechs you have laying into them. Salvage, scout, repeat.
In the Web GameWarfare 1917, the enemy will often use poison gas on your tanks even though they're completely immune to gas.
In Z, no matter what orders they were given, soldiers approaching artillery would be hit by the artillery at long range and react by retreating. After retreating for a while, they would resume following their orders to move towards the artillery, inevitably getting hit again. Since the artillery pieces had a minimum range, if the soldiers did not retreat they could easily get inside the minimum range and destroy the gun, but the AI blocked all attempts by the player to do this.
The unit AI in Gangsters 2 was notoriously bad. When driving, your gangsters insisted on planning their route a few seconds in advance, meaning that clicking to have them turn a corner just before reaching it would often result in them driving past the corner, turning around, and coming back. When attacked by enemy gangsters, your gangsters would fire back even if there was no hope of them winning, and commanding them to retreat or take cover resulted in them spinning frantically on the spot as they turn to follow your command and then are overridden by the "fire back" rule.
The AI in Ascendancy was notoriously easy to beat even in a hostile galaxy (the game's version of a difficulty level, although all it does it make the enemies declare war on you and each other much more often without actually making them better). While the developers have since then released a "hard AI" patch, the AI's flaws are still glaringly obvious. It notoriously fails to take advantage of alien ruins (which give you a random tech when studied, and yes, you can get a top-level tech at the start of the game this way) and is terrible at colony management with colonies often lacking in industry. It's not much better at ship design either. It might put a large number of powerful guns on the ship but not enough power generators to actually allow the guns to fire. The AI's goal seems to be to expand constantly without regard for defensibility. Their colonies might have a few orbital shields and missile launchers but will fill the planet with farms and outposts (increase possible population), and tons of defenses, with maybe a low-level factory or two. Even the improved iOS version still has may of those issues. Yes, the developers have finally realized that all that micromanagement is boring but adding an "Auto-Manage" button is pointless if the planetary AI remains so dumb. You're better off without auto-management. Good luck if you tapped the button by accident and check back later to find all your cool buildings have been replaced by the above-mentioned nightmare. You're also better off not automating research.
Starbase Orion, an iOS port of Master of Orion, had terrible enemy AI at the start, although things have since been improved with patches. Diplomacy isn't an issue, as you're always at war with everyone else. However, until the latest major patch, the AI would notoriously send wave after wave of unarmed transports to your defended colonies. It has since stopped doing that. Unfortunately, the AI hasn't stopped building ("spamming" is a better term) said transports. It just keeps them all near its colonies, figuring they can somehow stop even a single enemy warship. All these resources could be spent building warships or improving the colonies.
Update: Latest patches have removed the "build tons of transports and hope for the best" strategy from the AI menu, and it now acts much smarter. Revamped diplomacy also means you're not always at war with everyone else.
To cite just one example from the Heroes of Might and Magic series (there are probably many more), the AI in the second game is programmed to always prioritize the destruction of troops with a ranged attack. You can rout a computer controlled army with a squad of 100 black dragons, knowing it will keep ordering its troops to charge towards the one halfling armed with a sling.
Rock Raiders is a masterpiece of bad programming. Rock Raiders will cut corners over lava and get themselves killed. Small Transport Trucks will drop ore on power paths and drive away so nobody else can build it. Rock Raiders will sometimes decide to go on strike and stand around doing nothing no matter what you tell them to. They'll be content to run over to what you tell them to do, but they won't actually clear the rubble or drill the wall. If a Support Station is build (which it must be on many levels to recycle the air), Rock Raiders will spend the majority of their time standing at it eating sandwiches. Sometimes when you have a vehicle, Rock Raiders will ignore it, even if you've specifically ordered someone to get into one. Rock Raiders will prioritize ore that's farther from your base. If two Rock Raiders with dynamite are close to each other and one sets the dynamite, they will both run away; the Rock Raider carrying the dynamite will drop it and never pick it back up. The list goes on. Especially highlighted by the fact in one of the tutorial missions, Chief claims that "your Rock Raiders are very clever."
One mission very late into the campaign has some Rubble on the ground that's extremely far away from your base, which for no discernible reason the Rock Raiders continually place 200% priority on, ignoring ALL other tasks unless you've learned how to arrange the Priorities tab. For that matter, they never ever move out of the way of landslides either...
While the AI in Sword of the Stars tends to be fairly good, it does do glaringly bonehead things. For example, the game features several types of shields that absorb all damage of a given type and never going down. Deflectors block all ballistic and missile weapons, while Disruptors block all energy weapons. An AI-designed ship may only have energy weapons equipped but it will continue to pound your Disruptor-equipped ship from the front (the only area covered by the shield) and not even try to flank it. The only way to bring down these shields is with special Shield Breaker ballistic rounds, which the computer almost never uses due to their low damage.
The AI also doesn't quite know what to do about enemy cloaked ships if it doesn't have any Deep Scan-equipped ships in battle. While it's smarter than some other games in that it tries to fire at the spot where the now-cloaked ship was last seen (which means, if you cloak, you better move) and if the ship is able to fire while cloaked (meaning the very rare Advanced Cloak tech), it will target the area the fire is coming from. This may work fine with one enemy ship, but multiple ships have a tendency for one of the ships to move right into the spot where the cloaked ship was and stay there... while its allies are pounding the area with every weapon in their arsenal. Once the ship is destroyed, another one will likely take its place. Thus, your cloaked destroyer can be responsible for the destruction of several AI dreadnoughts.
Endless Space AI had some very easily exploitable flaws, most of which have been fixed in later patches. Probably the biggest one was that the game originally lacked a "cooldown" period after the end of a war, which would frequently lead to AI declaring war on one turn, agreeing to make peace the next turn, then declaring war again. This could be exploited by making peace with the AI and trading a large amount of resources for a system, new technology or Dust. Next turn they would declare war again and cancel the trade agreement, giving you back the resources you gave them. At one point it was even possible to get the AI that only posessed a few systems to give them all up in exchange for resources, causing them to be removed from game (that got patched pretty quickly).
While the above mentioned strategy no longer works, it's still possible to exploit the AI's stupidity in some cases. If an Ai you are allied with or just have good standing towards is getting close to winning an economic victory, just offer some valuable resources in exhange for an amount of Dust per turn that is equal to their income per turn. They will usually happily accept, even if it prevents them from winning and is likely to make you reach the economic victory instead.
If you're kicking the crap out of an AI empire and the AI knows it, they will proposed a cease-fire treaty. Depending on how much ass was kicked, it's possible to demand that the AI give you their last remaining worlds in exchange for a cease-fire, which knocks them out of the game.
Scavengers in Battle Zone 1998 were infamous for running over the player when he gets out of his tank, causing an instant game-over. Units sometimes got confused inside bases or would take long meandering paths to distant objectives, and units often spend more time trying to dodge rapid-fire shots rather than shoot back. Some of the issues were alleviated when the game was updated and re-released as a Freeware Game by the head programmer in 2011.
In Battlezone II, the newly introduced treaded units often had issues dealing with the huge amount of inertia the vehicles possessed, which sometimes resulted in them going flying off cliffs into water, which damages treaded vehicles. Pathfinding issues from the first game were compounded by bases (particularly the ISDF's) becoming more densely packed, which meant that factories usually had to be build at the front of the base in order to prevent units from piling up against the wall of a power generator or gun tower.
The AI will head straight for your Die Master and walk into corners and dead ends as a result.
The AI will almost never proactively defend its Die Master (which is the one piece you need to destroy to win) or attack your monsters in general.
If you've got a monster in striking range of the enemy's Die Master, the AI will move a monster to protect its Die Master... blocking up the space right next to where your monster is rather than actually try to stop your monster.
The AI will mis-match die levels so that it's physically impossible to summon monsters on its turn.
The AI will never use a monster's effect unless said monster's name is Orgoth the Relentless.
The AI will damage its own monsters with its own Exploding Discs and not use its beneficial items- letting you use them instead.
Lower level enemies- even when they aren't doing something stupid- will just flat-out refuse to move and do nothing during their turns.
Rather than go after your Die Master with one monster, the AI will have several monsters converge on your Die Master at once; meaning they will waste several turns slowly inching towards your Die Master and giving you plenty of time to get moves ready.
The AI will- 90% of the time- not set foot on your Dungeon Path, making it extremely easy to cut off the AI and block them from progressing.
In Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, some level's parts are filled with clouds of mustard gas. Stepping in them damages the units, with the exception of the undeads and the characters wearing a gasmask AND having a high enough level in the relevant skill. Most of the enemies (and none of the human ones) aren't fully immuned against the gas, but the AI is unable to avoid the gassed areas. Luring the enemy into such places is actually a very effective tactic.
In Lords of the Realm 2, the AI is often laughably easy to defeat in most battles, unless they take up a good defensive position or they significantly outnumber you. And in siege fights, they can often be easily defeated with your archers since they don't always rely on a battering ram to knock your doors down right away as a player would probably do to them first.
The Intermediate bots in League of Legends can be pretty bright - but good luck playing with a bot team, e.g. to try out a champion. Let's say you go down mid-lane (the bots will go 2v2 top and bottom), kill your opponent, and go to gank top. Oh no! Empty lane! One of the bots will immediately head up to die against your higher-level mid opponent, leaving their lane 1v2, and destroying the advantage you created.
In Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, there are plenty of moves that you can do that the AI never will, such as stuffing Troopers into a Fortress to give it a massive hail of giant blaster bolts; in fact, the AI is likely to rush headlong into the fortress and lose a vast number of troops.
The AI does very little to prevent its units getting killed by something they can't see (such as artillery).
Where the AI can and will crush players under the weight of numbers in landbound skirmishes, they become remarkably stupid in island matches, only sending transports one or two at a time. Ringing the island with towers is an excellent defense, as the transports are usually unescorted, and the AI never clears out a landing zone even if they are. Ditto air invasions.
Having trouble with enemies in Phantom Of The Kill? Plunk a high-leveled Armored unit right where all enemy forces can attack it. Watch as enemies futilely attack for a piddly 1 damage (if they can land an attack at all) and get crushed by crits or double-hits in retaliation.
In Nectaris, the AI's infantry units, given the chance, will be all too happy to capture one your factories, even if your factory happens to be empty and one of your own infantry units is positioned within range of retaking it the very next turn, which wins the enemy unit outright.
The AI in Advanced Civilization (no direct relation) has very little idea what it's doing even on the strongest level. In particular, it doesn't tend to take into account its position in the turn order, so you can see an overweight, underteched empire attacking the cities of a player with Military technology who's at the end of the turn order, when said player can casually block that attack and cost the AI nation several units. It also has no idea what technologies are most useful and often just grabs tech at random, not realizing that they've been in border brushfires with a guy with Metalworking for five turns, and maybe they might want to get that technology themselves.
In Pokémon Conquest, the Terrera battleground is won by claiming three flags, which are on top of towers in the centre of the map. If its movement stats allow it, the computer will always send one of their Pokémon to the bottom of a tower by the end of the second turn to take the lift to the top - only to be knocked off again immediately by a desert sandstorm that is scripted at the end of the second turn. You can actually factor this into your strategy for the map and not be disappointed.
The AI also has no idea how to handle the Frictionless Ice at Nixtrom - if you can manoeuvre something that can bombard them from a distance into an appropriate position, they won't come out to try and stop you.