I can see that this a hot topic and I don't think that shields are a good idea the covies are meant to win they are technologically superior to humans but I do see the points that have been made. The weakness of the UNSC can make the games verses the covenant a mad house and I became couriuse about how much it would take to kill a covi so I did a test to check this.
I placed two reclaimer difficulty UNSC AI's against an easy COV AI. The reclaimers were on the same team and the fleet size totalled about 50 cap ships of varying levels but no lower than level 4 and a support fleet that numbered 150 ships easily so 200 ships in total. This is a fleet I would class as impressive and yet it was completely outmatched by a covenant fleet of 70 ships most of which were support ships, lower level cap ships and one freshly made titan.
I do not know the status of the military research of the two UNSC AI's as I did not check but with in the first volley of plasma torpedo's from the 50 cov ships left after the first MAC volley the 200 ship fleet went down to 110 ships.
The MACs then took out another 20 cov ships but the next torpedo volley halved the remaining 110 ships to 55 by now the cov support ships are mostly dead but the UNSC cap ships are down to about half there original number all having suffered heavy damage.
This is the only time I have ever seen an AI start to retreat and as we all know no one can run and fight at the same time so the battle became a massacre.
Out of the 200 ships that went in only 20 got out alive however all were severely damaged. This is how it should be and I hope it is how it remains.
The UNSC did eventually win by rushing the enemies capital planet but that was another 2 hours later with another 2 similar battles only difference being the UNSC did not retreat and had slightly lower numbers.
sorry for any spelling mistakes hope this is useful in some way.
hello I started playing a few months ago and so far I have won UNSC vs UNSC on an easy fortify AI only twice but I find I survive much longer by slightly over stretching my self fleet wise and economically but I compensate for this by fortifying my worlds with full ODP defence early on and placing at least one anchor station with slipspace beacons ASAP especially on my front line leading to every ship producing world I have so I can get ships to any fight quickly I also try to max out fleet cap to produce as many carriers as possible may the be light carriers epoch or Punic class to have a very good balance between bombers and fighters to overwhelm the enemy stalwarts and other AA defences all my cap ships have nukes if able as well as my stations I do keep some artimis class in reserve ready to combat the enemy infinity class using the cov killer ability. economy wise I try to get trade up ASAP and population upgraded I do try to do artefact research pretty early to try and get a good advantage so I can rush as many worlds as possible and pray to god I get a drive upgrade then I go for ship build speed so I can produce ships even faster than normal I haver found spamming halberds and eions works well with some large stalwart and cap ship support military reaserch is a high priority for me as I belive that if I can kill the enemy before they can kill me I will win
this is probably a very bad strategy but it works for me when I use it