Sirian's Restaurant of Eternity
Strategies for Galactic Civilizations

Kylearan's Challenge

Difficulty Rating: Masochistic
Galaxy Size: Huge
Habitability: Occasional
AI Alignments: Standard
AI Intelligence: All Incredible
Political Party: Industrialist
Bonus Picks: +50 Military Production, +50 Social Production, +10 Morale
Ctrl-N: N/A
Spoilers: Yes
Replayed: No
Version: 1.11
Kylearan posted a report at the RBGC forum of a Maso game he had been unable to win. He offered the game up for others to try, with a request that if someone beat the map, please explain how. These are my results from taking up his challenge.
Click Here to read Kylearan's report, if you haven't already.
This terrain is particularly nasty. The player has a goodly number of planets within reach, but most are at the distant edge of what could be termed Human Space. This is one of those maps where spoilers are king, because of course the AI has no fog of war on planet quality and can beeline right to the habitable worlds. They don't need to scout, and on Masochistic where they can research much faster than the human player, they also quickly get impulse engines to speed their ships and controlled gravity to extend their range. This is a triple whammy boosting their expansion over the poor human player. On some maps, the human can compete straight up against this triple disadvantage, but on some (like this one) having spoiler information about which systems have habitable planets can make an enormous difference.
Obviously, I would be going in with spoiler information, having read Ky's report. So I decided to go ahead and get full spoilers by scouting out the map in person first, before beginning play. This because Kylearan passed up the PQ14 and 13 planets, and I did not plan to do so, so I wanted to know how many of those were available and in which directions.
I found seven good planets all to the far right, and only two near earth. Yep, very oblong terrain. Good grief. Earth is a PQ20. There are two 16's nearby, two more 16's and five 15's to the far right, one 13 near earth, and two apiece 13's and 14's to the far right. Wow, not a single useful planet besides that lone PQ16 among all the stars to the left and above earth. What are the odds of THAT happening? Wow.
Anyway, with military production bonus, I could set Earth to produce a colony ship every other turn. I sent the starting colony ship southeast to the PQ16 near earth down there. That system turned out able to produce 17 shields per turn (spt, a Civ3 term for production units), which meant a colony ship every three turns. Took a couple of turns to arrive, too. So here's the final tally: Earth produced nine colony ships, putting 130mil to 135mil colonists on board each, except for the last, which had only 30mil. Secondary planet produced four colony ships. I launched about 30mil on each of those. Thus it worked out perfectly, with earth producing for all eight good planets, secondary colony producing four to grab the borderline habitables to the east, and Earth cleaning up with the final ship to grab the nearby PQ13. My first colony ship from Earth had to fly due northeast in a beeline to settle the double-15 system at the edge of my initial range, and extend range further east. My first colony ship from Alexander (the secondary colony) headed to the most distant PQ13 in the far, far northeast, while the second boat from Alexander settled a PQ14 one sector southeast of the double-15, and that extended my range by one more sector eastward, which allowed my second colony ship from Earth to go all the way to the most distant star I wanted to grab.
So... initial colony to Alexander, starts producing colony ships of its own. First boat from earth to double-15, extends range. Second boat from earth to most distant star, third and fourth boats to next most distant stars. First boat from Alexander to most distant borderline planet, second to PQ14 near the double-15 to extend my range, third to the other 14 in the best system in my space (16-15-14, the southern system in the east), and fourth boat from Alexander to the PQ13 near the double-15. Fifth and sixth colony ships head west to the 16-15-14 star (they can afford to drag behind a bit because a boat from Alexander will grab the 14 in that system quickly enough to ensure the Drengin can't take it). Earth's seventh colony ship goes northWEST to grab the PQ16, the only habitable world north and west of Sol. Eigth ship cleans up the second half of the double-15, and the final ship sends only 30mil out to the PQ13 in the middle of my space.
When the final colony ship rolls off the assembly line, it is time to begin research. Kylearan said he ran 50% taxes the entire time. Big mistake. I ran whatever taxes I could while maintaining 100% morale for the big pop growth bonus of doing so, and started micromanaging the tax rate per turn when pop growth started to take off after the end of the colony ship trickles. With earth at 100% morale, I put 130mil or more onto each colony ship bound for a PQ15+, while only a couple dozen mil per ship bound for borderline habitables (BH's). I would keep the tax rate at 100% morale through the research period, slowly grinding down my initial bankroll. Since I had only three planets settled when I began research (Earth, Alexander, and one of the Double-15 in the far north) my research pace was a crawl. Slowest I think I've ever had when beginning full speed research with colony ships in flight. I needed two turns to research Comm Theory? WOW. One for Universal Translator, and three for Diplomacy. Government swap boosts my economy by 20%, now time to beeline up the propulsion techs to speed those colony ships a bit.
When I settled, I repeated Ky's move of choosing all evil options. I got zero PQ boosting events, I'm sorry to say, out of thirteen total chances. That's on the poor side, but oh well. I did get some sizable production boosters: at the first of the double-15, at the 14 that extended my range (Wow, turned that into the same as a 16 on production, amazing) and a lesser boost at one of my eastern 15's. I got one morale booster, too, and I was bona fide Evil Alignment, below 30 on the scale, by the time my colony ships arrived in the east. After the government swap I had more production, and for the final set of turns of migration, I had more planets settled. Thus research on Propulsion Theory was one turn, Cold Fusion two, and Impulse Drives three. I saved a couple of turns on colonization speed that way, to the farthest planets, and it delayed the start of social production on my closer worlds so that all my planets could "grow up together".
Here you see my second, third and fourth boats from earth arriving simultaneously in the far east.
That's a 15, 16, and 15 left to right, all single-habitable systems. One 14 is north of this picture, and the 16-15-14 is south. After propulsion, I researched Medical Theory and Basic Environment on the final turns of travel, but skipped researching Trade as yet. FIVE of my ships arrived at their destinations in the east on the very same turn I landed Habitat tech (Basic Environment). I had two trailing ships parked near PQ13's waiting for the social spending to begin (no sense settling before then and paying life support costs to no useful end -- MUST beeline to soil/habitat on PQ13's to minimize the initial costs of carrying them along). So with five arrivals and two waiting in orbit around BH's, I opened up my social spending for the first time this game with only two colony ships still in flight: the two from earth going to the 16-15-14. NOW I cranked up the taxes to 50% and spent at a sizable deficit rate to speed the boosting of my economy.
My bankroll went as far negative as -350bc. That is farther than I usually go, but this set of planets was so low on quality on average, I figured it was best to improve their PQ as quickly as possible, and then run a couple turns of zero spending to get back into the positive. Long about this time, the Yor sent me one freighter, and I had contact with them now. They were my closest neighbor, south of Earth, and their transport arrived at Alexander. To my delight, the Yor lacked the two medical techs, still, plus one more, and I was able to trade them for Phasers, a costly and uninflated military tech that minors rarely research early.
While still building habitats, a freighter from the Kwilasians (to the southeast of my eastern cluster) arrived into my space. Contact with them brought me several tech trades, including picking up Trade and Shields. And sure enough, they didn't have Phasers, so I had played that well, gaining more from my opportunities.
With Shields now in hand, I waited for the PQ13's to finish their habitats, which coincided nicely with my better worlds completing banking and entertainment. I parked my economy for two turns to get out of the negative, then swapped to 100% military spending. I produced freighters in my back lines, at both planets in the double-15, in the far north. I sent the first pair toward the Yor, the second toward the Drengin (to my east), and the third pair I split one in each direction. They had a way to go to arrive, and I figured I would be able to research or acquire more trade tech by the time the last ones arrived. Meanwhile, I built battleaxes and constructors. There were five resources within range. An influence next to earth, a research in the upper left corner, an econ in the heart of my space, and finally, a military and a second econ on my eastern border. The Drengin got that exposed second econ, but I nabbed the other four, and I sent a second constructor to the military resource (using the one intended for the other econ I lost) to boost its defenses with Basic Defense. No morale resources in sight? Blah. I don't usually value those highly (not above influence and military certainly), but since I have such low PQ on average, morale help would have been nice.
With my trade ships still early en route, the Torians (far northeast corner) arrived with trade ships, then a Drengin freighter passed NEAR me on its way toward Yor space but did not stop. Blah. I now have contacts. My alignment is down to Demonic Zero, so the Drengin should be my best pals. Right? Right.

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