I think we can state this as a fact by now as everyone seems to be saying the same thing. Unless the AI fleets have a significant speed buff then the radius is too small. Even if you increase the radius then everything except a warp boosted corvette fleet will be ran around in circles by a human invader with a warp boosted corvette fleet.
This is something that has bothered me long before this guard feature. Why does it take so long to go from system - warp, is this a balance thing? If not then please increase system speed, at least 50% I would say. Either by increasing the actual speed or by reducing the huge distance you have to fly before going to warp, or both.
I think it is good for several reasons. One is that it will be the first step for you to establish a visible border and, related to that, second that you can actually see where people are. Biggest issue I see with player interaction is that you don’t know where people are and you cant meaningfully interact with people who you know are “out there” but no idea how big their space is. You have to send scouts and do the horrible click on each planet in a system, which everyone hates.
You know this bug has actually shown me how much better generated guards are than your own fleets. They travel at warp 9, does not seem to run out of fuel, don’t cost anything if they get farmed and get respawned if they die.
Now if instead of the game setting these fleets up, how much better and useful would not this guard feature be if, when you click on the shield icon, the game uses that target fleet as a template to generate X nr of AI fleets which cost nothing and leaves no loot. Now that would be a proper deterrent if you know that your enemy has 3-10 DN fleets, moving at warp 9 and costing no resources, guarding his planets. Now that is what you could proper offline defense.
OP? I don’t think so because we are talking about AI here. A human player is infinitely more clever so it would be balanced. Besides, a powerful empire can easily muster up 20+ DN fleets to wipe out those AI fleets, it just wouldn’t be a stroll in the park as it is now when attacking an offline player. Attacking should always cost more than defense, that is a universal warfare fact. Even Sun Tzu mentioned that in his Art of War which was written thousands of years ago.
But I think that is all wishful thinking on my part as the devs seem to be much more conservative in their approach. So we need to keep in mind that this is the first iteration of this major feature and hopefully it will be improved. I am concerned though that the devs don’t seem to realise that AI vs Human is a huge lopsided affair in favor of the human so you can’t have a system where the fleets are equal. The AI controlled fleets need buffs.