What exactly is the AI doing that relegates it to its difficulty setting? I had thought it was purely actions per minute but that seems way to simple.
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There are certainly behavioral differences at the harder difficulty levels. A few that I have noticed:
So it seems to me the developers actually took into account tactics that better players use and only make these tactics available to the AI based on its difficulty. Of course, this is only a small piece of the puzzle and there are no doubt a lot of factors that go into it. If you're really curious, I'd suggest saving some replays of different level AIs (for the sake of the experiment, make them the same race and on the same map) and actually watching what they do differently.