In which I play Realms Beyond Orion Imperium 28
Chapter 5: Orion, in Which the Humans by Acclimation are Named High Poobah Over All the Universe And You'd Better Believe It
2546: Ultra Rich Crypto completes its Star Gate. I change the ship in progress to an expensive Huge Placeholder class ship so the extra resources spent don't turn into ships next turn.
High Energy Focus is at 4%. IRC 6 will be in the percentages soon, as well.
2547: Collassa builds its star gate (beating the Rich worlds thanks to some reserve spending), also is set on a Placeholder and back to tech spending.
HEF at 9%, IRC 6 at 1%.
VGA SEAN CONNERY SAYS LET'S GO KILL THE GUARDIAN
Sub Space Teleporter is the obvious next choice. Hmm!
With High Energy Focus, we can now get Hard Beam/class VII computer/nuclear engines/Inertial Stabilizer/combat speed 3 on our Orionbusters. That is absolutely a winning design. IRC 6 is in the percentages though, it could allow for class 8 computers and maybe combat speed 4 too on these ships, and 50% more factories will get this death fleet out sooner, so I guess now I'll wait for that. Honest, I'm about to slay the Guardian.
The AIs don't have any interesting new techs to trade for, so I just dump my research into Computers.
I decide that the surplus resources at Collassa might as well be used to construct a colship for Orion.
2549: Collassa builds the colship (two of them, in fact.)
I gave the bugs Advanced Soil Enrichment for Class V Deflector Shields. Why, why, why? Well, I'd kind of like them to be my council opponent, just in case.
Robotic Controls at 11%.
Well, there goes a lot of Stasis Field research down the sink.
IRC 6 at 19%.
Heh. It's about time the bears flipped out on me. Here I've been so nice to them.
I start up trade with the bugs again. IRC 6 sits at 23%. Y'know, I'm waiting, but this really should still save me some time.
VGA SEAN CONNERY WANTS TO KNOW IF WE CAN KILL THE GUARDIAN NOW
Why yes, yes we can. ECM Jammer 9 next, not that I think it matters much.
Bah, IRC 6 didn't help our design at all. At least it will make building these things a lot faster. I'll need a bunch.
How many? Well, Class VII computers mean 30% to-hit, or an average of 1.8 hit points of damage per combat round in range per ship. We're still just as fragile as before. Excel tells me 4557 ships is a sure win. That improves things quite a bit, and with the new robotic controls we can turn out three for the price of two. Cool beans.
2555: Crypto maxes out on factories and starts churning out Orionbusters, RELOCed to Collassa.
2556: Dunatis and Draconis max out on factories, and begin production of Orionbusters.
2558: I have a total of 1616 Orionbusters at Collassa.
2559: Berel, Sol and Primodius, right by Collassa, max out on factories. They decide to help out with the Orionbusters, as well.
2560: The Sakkra, Darlok, and Klackon complain about our might.
Where are you, and where is Collassa, again?
Don't make me bomb somebody, people.
I go ahead and gift the Psilons with Personal Absorption Shields to reduce their angst.
2562: I'm up to 4352 Orionbusters total, although only 3950 are in Collassa orbit right now.
2563: Collassa maxes on factories, no reason at all for it not to build some Guardian-killers as well. 4644 in orbit now.
2564: 5348 Orionbusters in Collassa orbit. That's more than enough. Everybody back on tech, or reserve spending as appropriate.
Au contraire. It is we that attack it.
Only two combat rounds to reach the Guardian. Nothing can save it now.
Let's hear it for level 19 hard beams. In ridiculous quantity they can kill things.
Give me a shot with your eyes open!
Wow, thanks Roger Wilco. That's excellent.
Despite my trickery, it appears that the Psilons will be my opponents. Will I have enough support?
"Royal Bastard Octavian", in case you were wondering.
OH NOOOOOO I'M GOING TO LOSE!
ACTUALLY I THINK WE SHOULD ALL FORM A CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC INSTEAD OF THIS IMPERIUM THING
WELL OKAY IF YOU INSIST
Result: Diplomatic Victory, 2568.
Scoring: 16, 10 for showing up, 5 for a Council choice, 1 for winning the game. No demerits (no genocides and no "soon control the galaxy".)
After-Game Navel Gazing
The biggest thing, of course, is that I got all three of the rich/ultra rich planets. I had expected the Psilons to get at least one of them, and had I not signed the peace treaty in 2447, the Klackons might have taken Draconis from me (they might not have, though -- remember, their ships were actually sort of pathetic, and I had a large hull repulsor beam ship coming in.) Thanks to all of the asteroids, this played a lot more like a Small map than a Medium map, which makes two Rich and one Ultra Rich world a huge, absolutely huge advantage, especially given that nobody else had one!
I could have definitely finished this a little sooner had I continued expanding up to just before the "soon control the galaxy" GNN warning. I didn't really want to irritate the AIs further, I wanted to be able to mostly coast diplomatically.
I said early on that I was unlikely to have a meaningful tech lead versus the AI. In an Impossible game with the Psilons, that's usually going to be the case. But thanks to their terrible robotic controls and four planets, and to my size, the brains were actually only #2 in tech by the end, and with HEF, Gauss Autocannon, etc., and my huge economy, I could have carved them up without too much effort. That sounds like a meaningful tech lead to me.
Note: the Psilons were still #2 in total population and were doing just fine on the tech side. If they had more factories, or they had any more worlds, they would've outpaced me in research. While the Psilon economy was stunted with few factories and few colonies, mine flourished with the UR and two rich worlds. That allows you to have your biggest worlds running as Artifact planets almost all of the time. They had significant disadvantages and I had significant advantages, which says a lot about how damn horrible brains are as opponents. In no way should they be taken as a weak opponent, and they weren't here; they were a very useful opponent, in fact.
They might have been more useful, though. I took great pains not to trade the Psilons Robotic Controls. The great danger in doing so would be that they would climb up the rest of the tech tree in short order (they would) and then conquer the comparatively backwards Sakkra and Klackon, giving them a council veto and necessitating a big Human/Psilon war. A possible advantage to doing this is that I could trade or steal their better construction or weapons techs, and possibly kill the Guardian sooner.
As't was I got my Guardian-killer about as soon as reasonably possible with the tech I had: small hull was necessary, hard beams were the best weapon I had for the task, and I needed to wait for the good computers to fit. Even as it was, I had to use a lousy engine to get it to work. I researched Hard Beam in 2483, but wasn't able to fit it on a small hull for about thirty turns after that. Had I tried to take Orion at that point, without any computers or inertial stabilizer onboard, I would have potentially needed to survive four combat rounds and would have to bring a lot more fighters with the terrible 5% to-hit -- without the production bonuses given by soil enrichment or IT+60.
I might have won a few turns sooner if I just listened to VGA SEAN CONNERY and didn't wait for IRC 6. Yes, it cut construction times by a third, but it only took me ten turns to amass five thousand of the things at Collassa, and I didn't even have my whole empire working on them. It took 6 turns after HEF for IRC 6 to pop and one-to-two turns for factories to re-max at the rich/UR worlds after that. As things were, I could have built the Orionbusters for 15 turns with IRC 4 and gotten the same fleet a couple of turns sooner. But I did not know exactly when IRC 6 would pop, of course. I had almost all of my tech research in Computers; I got a little unlucky that it took six more turns. Hindsight, 20/20, etc. I would, though, have started production after HEF if I knew that IRC 6 wouldn't sufficiently miniaturize the Mark VIII computers.
A different strategy with the Psilons would have possibly made a lot more difference. I did okay trading up with them, but if I hadn't been stingy with the robotic controls... but, again, impossible to know if they would have just decided to conquer the galaxy with more factories. That would not have made for a pretty game. Whenever it's possible, I prefer a low-risk game with a near certainty of winning to a risky but potentially a lot faster one. Giving the Psilons the ability to suddenly double their factory production qualifies as a "high risk" sort of move to me.
Maybe one day I'll replay this scenario and be a little more generous with the Psilons.
The Darloks were surprisingly strong this game. They kept the Bulrathi out of the southwest and managed a pretty good sized economy and good research. When run by the AI they usually don't do a great job in tech. But when I pulled the assassination event after a century and a half they could reach my planets, but I couldn't theirs.
Two Erratic factions is pretty rough, but the bears were completely irrelevant by being boxed in on all sides, and the bugs were hated too much by everyone to ever amount to anything. While the Klackons were very strong in shield, construction and computer techs, and weren't weak in planetology tech, their missile tech was absolutely pathetic. Still shooting nuclear missiles in the 2500s? Pity. They had no bombs, either. Their beams were better (they got up to hard beams and fusion beams, like me) but without missiles or bombs their gigantic military was just not a threat (except, apparently, to space monsters).
I got quite a bit of mileage out of the espionage and tech trading this game; the Zortium and Battle Suits I stole from the Klackons became several other useful techs. Tachyon Beam for Cloning was great, as it enabled me to forego most Weapons research. In terms of tech levels it's fairly tilted in my favor, as well. If you wait long enough the AIs will gladly pay dearly for whatever they need to fill the holes in their tree they perceive to be the most important. By the end of the game this can result in ridiculously lopsided trades for things like Repulsor Beam or Inertial Stabilizer, long after they're most useful. In this case Cloning didn't help the Psilons very much at all, but Tachyon Beam immediately boosted by Weapons tech nine levels. Weapons was the second most important miniaturization field for my Orionbuster fighters. Construction, obviously, was the #1 field to get, for more space on my ships (effectively "miniaturizing" everything), and I did what I could there. My espionage picked the Klackons' strong Construction tree clean by the end, I received some Construction from the Darlok in trade, and I had more and better Construction tech than the Psilons did. The last third of the game my research efforts were mostly concentrated in Construction, and I was up to Tritanium Armor.
I find that in Impossible games, researching yourself in all fields tends to be horribly inefficient, as you have high tech costs while the AI gets a huge production bonus. Provided you get a good enough start to not be hopelessly behind, you can let the AI do a great deal of your research for you. Trading and espionage tend to be mandatory to keep up, and concentrating most research in fields with lots of specials/uniques, especially in fields where you are rated good or excellent, can give you a strong position to trade up. Force Fields are a good example: Repulsor Beam, Cloaking Device, Zyro/Lightning Shields, Statis Field, etc. plus the standard planetary shields, gropo tech and deflectors (which are always desired by the AI). Better yet, these techs give no economic bonus to the AIs. Since Humans are expert in FF technology, that's where a large portion of my tech spending usually goes (besides the mandatory expansion and Computers investments early on, as appropriate.) Weapons and Propulsion are also good choices for similar reasons, and as Mrrshan or Alkari you can be sure my research spending is heavily in those fields. As the Meklar, Darlok or Silicoid almost everything goes into Computers and espionage, not trading, picks up the slack for me. And of course, in a map with five opponents, like this one, you will frequently be able to pick up tech via trade or spies and immediately be able to trade it around, sometimes picking up something even more useful. Taking advantage of your race's tech bonuses, spies and the AI's trading proclivities makes up a lot of ground.
In this particular game, though, I needed no special finesse after picking up Crypto and the two Rich worlds. At that point I out-peopled and out-produced everyone, and even in Impossible games that spells doom for any AI silly enough to oppose you.
2449: Shamefully, I didn't notice the bugs had Improved Eco. The choice wasn't Computers/Weapons, it was Planetology/Planetology. I might have gotten Tundra, but even that is better than Gatling Laser. I pulled Improved Eco from them in 2468.
2469: I built exactly one of that ARS/repulsor Huge design, and it served me very well indeed. It occurs to me that Battle Scanner probably would have been a better special on this than Anti-Missile Rockets, however.
2479: Lacked the range at this point to take Ursa. Paranar was fine, though.
2514: The bears and lizards are at war, yet a Sakkra fleet orbits Ursa with 39 missile bases present. Either the ships or the bases should disappear, surely? Yet the lizard ships remained in orbit for several turns before apparently being shot down. I'm really not sure what went on here. Normally I wouldn't care too much, but I don't want the lizards to capture Ursa and eliminate the bears (partly my fault for taking Paranar.)
2526: Weird glitch to get a factory message about Gion after blowing it away from orbit.
2528: Talk about overkill. Those poor Klackon ships couldn't have been packing more than fusion beams and nuclear missiles, as the tech report told me. The class XV planetary shields would absorb that handily, so no real point in building these ships. Also, I apparently love Anti-Missile Rockets, despite the fact that the races with real weapons tech had Stingers or even Herculars at this point.
2542: The antidotes are some of my favorite techs to trade away, as the bioweapons are nearly useless to the human player, and the AIs value antidotes very highly in trade. The slight disadvantage is that spreading around the antidotes discourages the production of spore ships that cannot harm me, which may be replaced with something that might. I may have gotten better stuff had I waited a little while longer, but the game was almost over; as it was I did get another Construction and Weapons tech from the Darlok, and the shields I got from the Psilons certainly don't hurt. (Of course, I like to trade spores or Doom Virus away if I have the antidote as well, as that trade similarly can only help me.)
2554: The Impossible Guardian doesn't have Advanced Damage Control. If it did I would have needed 5463 fighters instead of 4557, almost a thousand more.