Well, I get to the game a bit late thanks to exam week and... hoo boy. I start RIGHT in the middle of pretty much everyone.
Well, after sending my ships around I decide that since there's only an hour and some minutes until paytime, I'll buy as much economy as my sucky planets can get me... which proves to be twelve. Then I send offers to my neighbours as to what should be our borders, in the hopes that we don't get into expeditionary disputes this early, and respond to Enrymion's message, stating the obvious - that he's one of the few people I'm not in the middle of.
Oh, and I started with Arrakis. I've got the Melange, I'm horrendously weak AND I'm in the middle of everyone. Damn.
Amarth opted for a science lab first. I don't mind - I need money so I can boom out in industry and secure myself a corner. That's my plan, because if I stay in the middle I'm screwed. Meanwhile, I'm researching Weapons because keeping myself just a bit ahead of everyone in that field will make me someone they don't want to target.
I'm still late in colonizing new planets. I've lost any chance of a reasonable border with Crazy and none of the planets I'm finding are worth anything. There's like, two planets with a reasonable amount of resources. Amarth asked me to join him in attacking Narvius.
After some consideration, I agreed. I don't trust Amarth, but if I don't gain a corner, I'm dead anyway. And Amarth is in the middle just like me, him attacking me would leave him open to everybody around him. Taking out Narvius would give me the Northeastern corner, which's the best spot I can reasonably reach. So... yes, not many options here, and Amarth knows it.
Teching weapons finished, although it was really slow. Amarth got speed already with his beginning Tech Lab, and I can't afford to build any extra myself. Guess my expansion will be even farther behind, especially since nobody seems to want to trade Weapons for anything.
Still pumping economy... if only I had planets to do that with. A few industry to begin stockpiling garrisons on my most valuable (still sucky) worlds. If someone attacks me, I'm screwed anyway.
Looking at the minimap, since Shingo isn't doing anything nor is Kario, Endymion and Crazy seem to be the best off expansion wise. Endymion, is a good thing, since he's on the other side of Amarth from me, thus counterbalancing my most powerful neighbour. Crazy, not so much - he already proved expansionistic and I don't see a way to gain enough territory to stop him. He's also got nobody else to attack, if we don't count Shingo.
After weapons, I'm teching... more weapons. If I can't get speed off a trade, it's a pity, but if I've got up-to-date Weapons, I'll be less of a target. At least that's the plan. Sadly, Narvius also teched Weapons. Crazy and Endymion didn't - they're either doing range or speed and if it's speed, I should see it shortly. Amarth said he's doing Weapons aswell, with his double-science. Shingo and Kario both did weapons as I suspected.
Checking the stats, Crazy is going to boom with max Economy spending. Endymion's the best off overall. I'm... average. Sadly, since that means I'm barely above Kario and Shingo whose inactivity's put them so far behind it's not even funny.
Looks like I need to get my empire up to gear - maybe one more tech lab and rest into one extra fleet to go north towards Shingo and economy, if I have any money to put into economy after all that.
Okay, frankly, my situation requires decisive action.
Crazy has a huge amount of Economy, little Industry and no Weapons tech right next to me. He's got the most stars already and lots of space to expand to, especially since Shingo went AI. If I leave him there, I'm dead. He also took two planets that geography dictates would belong to me. Meanwhile Narvius has been pretty nice.
Amarth doesn't want to attack Crazy. He said he'll go for Kario if I want to kill Crazy instead of Narvius. I'm doing some slightly provocative star-grabbing in his agreed area of expansion, but I'm hoping he'll be true to his word and stay off my back. I feel more hopeful since I traded Speed for Scanning with him - Scan is less valuable, so maybe he actually wants a tech agreement. Or just doesn't want to kill me and lose his chance of securing a corner before Endymion takes Kario.
Anyway, that's the hopes. I'm not attacking before my fleets are in position and Crazy has spent his money for this turn. I don't want him to place mass industry because he's aware I'm coming, I'm hoping he'll still spam Economy so I can take advantage of my superior numbers and firepower. When you have a lot of mass and enemy has a lot of power, rush.
Besides, both of those supposed-to-be-mine planets are resource-rich, and I'm starved for good planets. :/ Unlike Amarth, who has a crapton of more everything than me. Don't like that. I'm hoping Endymion will be my ally against the red blob if necessary.
Moved my attack against Crazy. I know it'll mean we're enemies forever, but I'm aiming to take and hold those two planets - he has defense on both and I'll be unable to push further. He's got the advantage in industry and economy, too, and reached an equal level with me in Weapons at a bad time right before my attack.
Meanwhile Amarth is calling for help because it seems he's at odds with Endymion. Haven't seen any fighting yet. He says he's teching Range and intends to switch it to my weapons once those are done - I'll get Range from Endymion for Weapons instead if he gets it done faster, since Endy only wants level 2, not level 3.
I offered a mutual defensive pact to Endymion earlier because Amarth's between us, basically hoping for a safeguard against the Red blob. He said 'yeah'. I don't know what he meant.
Now, I'm in trouble as usual, but not any worse than usual. Next payday I'll be dropping some cash on Industry and most of it on another tech lab - I need to get ahead of Crazy in Weapons and keep trading with others to have a chance at keeping my gains. My economy is behind the other three large players for the simple reason of not having enough good planets to put it on - never mind having the middle location and the least planets mine also have to have the least resources. :/
My two fleets will kill Crazy's two defending ones, securing me 20 cash from killing his economy and 1 industry. The stars are the key, not the infrastructure gains - they also form a chokepoint between us two. That only holds as long as he doesn't get range, though. Also, why does Crazy get a star called La Superba?
I'll be taking plenty of losses in the first attack, putting me back behind Crazy in ships like I am in industry. However, defender has it easier so once I've got the planets and stop moving...
Crazy has /ten/ fleets. What. I'm using three of my five in this attack.
The attack is underway, I captured the closest star and will soon take over the second one. Then, well. He's got an 1/2/0 high-resource planet next, but I don't think I have the ships to go there. At least before my third fleet arrives to the front.
I got Range from Endymion and sent him the first Weapons, as planned. Now to think of how to explain this to Amarth... perhaps I'll just give Amarth Weapons next pay-phase and ask him to spot me a game of Speed once he gets it done. Or something. Got another science lab, too, but that's still only three which ain't magnificent or anything. Still, keeps me in the race.
Lost a ton of ships in the initial attack but still got more than Crazy, barely. Defender's bonus and all that. Once my second attack hits, I'll have less. And he still has more Econ, though I passed him in Industry again. I'm pretty sure he didn't spend this turn's income yet though, so that's rather faulty information.
Other than the doomed war with the largest power in the galaxy, nothing much else to report. I continue pushing my borders to get a few more neutral stars that would probably belong to Amarth or Narvius. But what'm gonna do?
Hmm. Well, this war is not going particularly well. Crazy sent a bit over a half of his entire fleet at my initial push, killing it - I calculated I'd survive and kill him because I'd get a defensive bonus for my ships but he got Fleet Speed a few hours before he arrived, which let him get on the star a bit before me.
This leaves me rather vulnerable, but he did lose a number of ships and has something like twenty less than me total. He still has less industry but his empire is huge and he's got more tech labs and economy. I'm barely leading in weapons, and teching the next one as fast as I can.
For whatever reason he suicided one of his fleets at Chora - five ships don't get a shot off against a WS 4 defender. I don't mind, it's not like he doesn't have the ships to lose.
Narvius warns me that Crazy wanted him to betray me. Well, if he does I'm dead meat, but so's he so, well, I'm hoping he sees the writing on the wall with Crazy's 38/82 stars needed for victory and my 19 and his 16. (19+16=35...)
I'm gathering some more ships to try and combat Crazy's push. Running out of time to fight his boom here.
Well, he captured his planets back, and I capture them back, and he re-captures them back... The battle's going back and forth, and that's not a good thing for me.
Basically at this point I'll be forced to bunker down on the frontline planets and then, well, I'm as good as dead unless Shingo the AI pulls something weird. Meanwhile I'll focus on Weapons tech and Industry for short-time staying power - what else am I going to do? All my planets are utter crap, too...
Crazy's peace terms are completely unacceptable - basically, to alienate all of my allies, give him a full 40% of my useful stars and that'd make him give me a 2-3-day ceasefire after which he'd continue the attack. Yeah, no.
Well, whatever he might like to think, he isn't powerful enough to kill me off for a long time yet, and if he tries, he's just digging himself deeper into a hole of Endymiony death. My start position combined with Shingo turning AI meant that my only possible way to win was to blitz Crazy and that failed, so right now my new goal is to stay in the game for as long as I can.
Setback after setback. :/
Well, Crazy's superspeed, after costing me a few hundred ships, is caught up to, not by any of my supposed allies who had it sending it after I asked a few dozen times but by Endymion getting it by trade from Narvius and sending it to me afterwards. Thanks, Endy. He's also attacking Crazy's unprotected Southern flank, I'm hoping quickly enough to force him to relieve some of the pressure on me. another sixty-seventy ships are attacking me currently, out of Crazy's 110 or so. He also has one ship on every one of his northern stars, the bastard. And nothing useful on them, either.
Well, I still have more ships, enough industry and tech to stay alive for a day or two and enough will to fight to not let him into my inner planets. Since the vile toiletbrushes want to wipe the seat with me, instead of with their own faces as is good and proper, I'll at least bloody their nose and force them to spend as long as possible at it, while helping Endymion the best I can.
My decapitation attack at his homeworld is about to be intercepted. He barely got enough ships together to beat it - I could've killed 18 and he gathered every ship from nearby huge industrial worlds - 21 or so.
Oh well, 18 more deaths to him, more money wasted by him on fleets... well not really, but anyway. At least one of the fleets is gonna die I think. Other than that, I'm losing out a bit on this deal, but not that much. He finally took my scout star in the middle of his empire which saw Endymion's attack on him, and he's sending more ships to that front instead of me, letting me breathe a bit more easily since I should be able to regain a few more industrial worlds of mine and gather more ships.
I'll probably push another attack up north if I have the time and ships at some point... or maybe I should just gather fleets and set up for heavy defensive while I wait and see how long it'll take for Crazy to realize that however much of a grudge he might bear on me for entirely reasonable reasons, Endymion will win if Amarth's the only one fighting him.
Possibly that'll take until Endymion actually wins, though. Oh well. And I'm periodically glancing warily at Narvius on my other, undefended border - he's still not gathering any ships for fleets, but that may change rather quickly if he decides that he likes the look of my stars.
Looking at my stars, that's unlikely. They're made of crap.
I've been putting more money into industry while trying to get Endymion and/or Amarth to give up their war and fight mine instead. It's not really working, but at least Endymion did do damage to him.
Crazy's pumping weapons tech now. Just like me, except with a ton of more tech labs. Not much I can do about that, a single new one costs like 150 for me, and I've got 200 income. Stupid crappy stars.
I'm slowly losing my ships advantage though I've still got more industry. Technically, I'm currently winning - I've got one star more than I started with. But that's just because he hasn't taken it back yet.
Suddenly, Amarth seems to be killing Endymion. And Narvius got himself AI'd, which resulted in a HUGE stockpile of money being busted all on Economy, putting him ahead of everyone else in the game in money and growing in Industry. That's one scary AI. Oo
Meanwhile, the war between me and Crazy keeps going around in circles. He killed my home planet's Economy, taking it over for a few minutes because I went to sleep at a bad time. He's also now ahead of me in weapons tech for good, but he's quite behind in ships. So yeah, it's as it was in the beginning - the longer things go on, the better for him, but I've managed to scrape up a slight mass lead. He's behind in Industry, though, with me having a couple of his planets on the border. He's got some eighty ships building, which is like three fourths of his entire navy and will wipe me off his stars. I've got a counterfleet arriving, but it'll be a bit late. We'll see how that goes. Stupid weapons and speed and low tech lab amount and sucky NR counts...
Well, Amarth and Endymion will hopefully balance each other out for now, Amarth will hopefully stop helping Crazy instead of me and Endymion will hopefully continue his Crazy offensive and Crazy will hopefully go kill Endymion's fleet instead of mine... yeah, you can always hope.
Okay. Somehow, I don't really know why, things turned around. I gathered a big enough fleet to stop Crazy's 80 coming to kill my border. He took one planet back and stopped, and I got 90 ships parked next to it. Then I convinced Endymion to attack Crazy's fleet for a little damage to help and now I'm bringing in some extra ships which, in six hours, should be enough to take his fleet out. That's over fifty percent of Crazy's ships. Meanwhile, my other fleets took two of his big industry planets, including his homeworld, and Endymion took one more.
Meanwhile, me and Endy both got a couple of small fleets going around and conquering small undefended stars in the back of Crazy's empire. Suddenly he doesn't look so scary anymore, with 12 Economy and similar numbers of Industry. His Weapons is still higher than mine, at 9, but I'm no longer behind in tech labs thanks to all the ones me and Endymion stole from him.
Now, I really need to start focusing on post-conflict - what am I going to do if and when I grow to become the third Major Power in the game, and will I have time to do it before one of Amarth and Endymion manages to take the other out?
I'm technically allied to both, and supplying both with tech I get from the other, raking in a steady profit in cash and other technological advances myself - I give Endymion my own Weapons for his Range, his Scan and some cash, then I give that Weapons to Amarth for his Speed and some cash, then I give that Speed back to Endymion for a ton of cash and meanwhile research another level of Weapons. Life's good as a neutral, even though I'm still way weaker than those two giants.
I fear Endymion won't be able to hold on against Amarth, who's a reasonably experienced player. For this reason, I'm trying to hog all of Crazy's good stars to myself instead of letting Endymion get his fair share - I need to grow in power quickly to be able to defend myself credibly. My lack of ships means I need a much higher industry than the two to catch up, or otherwise they'll have to fight each other a lot more.
This star-hogging strategy might be a double-edged blade, though... Crazy still has enough power to hinder my efforts and start taking back some of his stars, while I gather additional fleets to the scene. High Weapons tech really gives him a lot of defensive power, me needing eleven ships to even get rid of one of his defending ones. Endymion's help could be useful here, but... well, I'll take the risk of Crazy bouncing back if it means being independently powerful.
My long-range plans focus on keeping myself neutral, trying to make sure neither of Amarth and Endymion beat each other and killing Shingo's AI-built superplanets (lots of ships but low Weapons skill mean I don't need that much to take them over) and after that Narvius's AI-built Economy superplanets.
Once I have those areas, it doesn't even matter if Amarth or Endymion wins down south - they won't have enough stars to win, and I'll have enough to stop them, hopefully. But that's still a long way off. Let's keep the eyes on the present, and send some more fleets to annoy Crazy.
Amarth is going haywire and ripping Endymion apart. This is bad - the balance of power has shifted and I don't want it to before I'm ready. :/
Weapon Skill 9 rolled in. I could trade it to Amarth, but I'll wait for him to make the offer - he's 2 Speeds ahead of me, and equal in Tech Labs... don't want to help him against Endy, really, but can't afford to alienate him yet. At some point I'll just have him give me his side of the deal and back up on mine, and that day is rapidly approaching.
Goddamnit, I wanted to be able to completely mop up Crazy and take over Shingo's and Narvius's idle planets while preparing my ships for the big war, not have to hurry to attack Amarth who's still a lot stronger than me.
Crazy is gone now. Three hundred ships to Amarth's six hundred - Endymion still has five hundred. Trying to send Weapons to him as fast as I get them to keep him running against Amarth... Amarth's 2 ahead in Speed though. And Endymion isn't using his resources very well, I can see him suiciding two fleets at Amarth's defenses currently. A sure sign of someone not reading the battle mechanics very well.
I'm pretty big now, and I can match Amarth in Industry, higher in both Economy and Tech. But I've got a lot less ships and, most importantly, my logistics lines are horrible. I've got 1-2 industry stars everywhere, far far in Crazy space, with just two or three high-Industry areas where I have to gather my main fleets. I can hope it's the same for Amarth, but still, some Speed for my ships would really help me with gathering all that my Industry produces into the areas where it can actually do some good.
Starting to slowly gather ships together while killing off Shingo for those high-industry stars the AI's been making for him. Meanwhile I'm building up Economy and Tech Labs - the plan is to get far enough ahead of Amarth to be able to out-produce him. He's still three hundred ships ahead, however, which puts a damper to that plan.
Well, keep the goal in sight - you win when you get eighty-two stars, not when you kill Amarth. If I can kill off Shingo, start killing off Narvius and launch a big attack on both Amarth and Endymion at once to get just enough stars to push me over the limit, that's just as good. Meanwhile, I need to keep a careful eye on Amarth so he doesn't get too big. Keep helping Endymion with Weapons and such.
Endy can be of use to me again, for once - he finally got Speed done, and is now a level above me.
Currently my fleets are en-route to mop up Shingo for good and take high high-industry planets to receive a third main production hub within my borders. Also makes my borders look better. Currently I'm pursuing Monroe's teachings, attempting to stay off the battle between Amarth and Endymion while fuelling it with tech and solidifying my control over the north side of the galaxy.
The important thing is that the low point of my relative power to the other two will be right after I take out Shingo, with my fleets both badly out of position and weak. If they use that moment to attack, I'll be in trouble - the longer it takes after that the better off I will be.
I've secured enough stars to stop anyone else from gaining a victory, I think - at least I will be able to if someone gets close. So confrontation is now inevitable, I just hope it will be on my terms.
Bit of a pause between comments here. I've finished off Shingo and begun an aggressive takeover of Narvius's planets. That last part is proceeding rather slowly because I'm keeping 300-400 ships on the borders with Amarth and Endymion just in case. I'm still 150 ships behind Amarth, but I've got enough Industry to recoup that difference in one day, and my science is double his. Currently I'm just biding my time, teching ahead, killing Narvius and recently decided to use my 170-ship-fleet next to Endymion's holdings in former Crazyland to take said holdings over. Our relations are falling quickly now that he's too weak to be of any use to me, but I'm hoping to keep us at a state of relative non-war for now - the longer things go before the final confrontation, the better off I will be.
He didn't take it too well and attacked me. I think this'll be the big fight, then - if Amarth comes online, he'll of course send everything of his to support since this is their chance. I need what, sixteen more stars to win - won't be long.
Okay, Endymion's all-out at me. He's weak, so I don't really care, but I don't think waiting for Amarth to react is a good move for me - together they could beat me. So I'll not even try to stop his attack (seriously, 560 ships? Oo) and instead move for a landgrab. I'm at 77 stars of 82, so I just need to move quickly and take a few more wherever I can get them to secure a victory.
If this one hasty move cost me the game, I'm going to be somewhat miffed at myself. It's still likely that I win, but I gave the other two a possibility to stop me, which is just wrong. In a situation where the longer I wait, the better off I am... well, attacking at the earliest opportunity just because is stupid. Stupid me. Regardless of whether I win, this was undoubtedly my biggest mistake of the game - everything up to now had been dictated by need.
Well, I won. That's that.
There's some notes I wrote mid-game.
I also have a few pics. I started taking them quite late though. And then I stopped taking them. Oh well.
Blitzkrieg against Shingo.
The sudden break-up of Crazy, and how it happened.
Situation overview right after the above, when Crazy had been taken out for good.
The logistical pattern of the early half of the game, when I was trying to kill Crazy.
The move I suggested Endy do against Amarth. He didn't push it home after taking that one star, though.
I swear I had more pics somewhere on my computer. One or two more, that is. I remember one detailing my Heavy Industry areas after I had taken over the entirety of the North. They were at Shingo's über-stars, Crazy's former heartland and a bit above it and my own Homeworld's surroundings.