|AI Intelligence:||All Incredible|
|Bonus Picks:||+2 Speed, +10 Economics|
I don't do abundant or rare games very often. Mostly I play the middle ranges of habitability. After playing a gigantic-normal and a gigantic-uncommon, I was ready for an abundant game. On abundant, local economy counts for more than trade. (The opposite is true for rare habitability). So I decided to lean toward economics with the Federalist Party. I chose my typical +2 speed pick for gigantic, which consumes a whopping eight picks, leaving just two to grab an extra +10 Economics, giving me a total of +30, counting the Federalist bonus. I used Ctrl-N several times to reroll the maps I was handed. Two of them had me in tiny clusters surrounded by empty space. Two more had a major literally on top of me, within three or four tiles, and in serious trouble. All well and good, but I just wanted a normal game here. Wow, lot of Ctrl-N here. I usually find a suitable map more quickly or simply take what it gives me. There seems to be more swing in the terrain of gigantic maps, though. Finally I drew a decent looking position and here we go.
Ugh. Sol starts off with no extra planets, and the first three stars I explore are not yellow. On an abundant map, these are not good signs. But then things pick up, as I find a couple of systems with three or four habitables. The colony ship spam is now in full swing. With so many worlds to grab on abundant, I will actually fall behind because it will take longer before I can stop colony ship building if I want to grab a fair share of land, and I will use up my 1000bc initial bankroll before the colony ship building phase is done, leaving none to subsidize social projects, so those will go slower too. If I can find a minor to trade with, though, I will be OK on tech.
My home cluster is probably actually two adjacent clusters, as it is double size. That could mean a minor nearby, but no, I'm alone down here in the corner. Using influence scouting, I learn that the Yor and Drengin are my only close major neighbors. I opt to lean Pure Evil, for the many planetary bonuses and to make nice with my neighbors, who between them seem to have a lot of land available. The Torians and Altarians are in a sizable supercluster on the north side of the map, and the poor Arceans got the shaft with a ridiculous corner start, the kind I usually see handed to the Yor or the Altarians.
With an all out colony ship rush and my +2 speed pick, I beat the Yor to the small cluster between us. I got the last of its five yellow stars by a single turn's worth of lead, though, and thus I have met the Yor, via a colony ship, sooner than I would have liked.
I've secured four clusters worth of land for myself, though -- a great start. I've never lost from a position that strong unless there was a runaway Drengin next door. Note that my alignment is already down to Demonic 1, and there are still plenty of secondary and low-PQ worlds left to grab. If the game would let me go below zero, a gigantic abundant map where I have lots of stars in reach is the situation that see the farthest extremity of negative alignment. Luckily for me, there is no worse than zero.
See the yellow box in the shot above? That is the location of the Drengin homeworld. It's a single star in deep space, but at least he has three clusters in range on all sides, and the entire left side of the map, in which to expand. He will get a slow start but... oh gosh... He might become unstoppable if nobody stops him early. Of course, that would be perfect for me, leading to a fairly quick Alliance win. Perhaps.
So the Yor have two clusters in their home space, the Drengin have three, plus anything on the left not owned by minors, and I have four clusters of territory, with a fifth perhaps in reach on the right side of the map, above me. Have to get there quickly, though, as the Torians could reach it with the help of a starbase, and there will probably be at least one resource in that large sea of black space.
Finally, you can see by the white dots on the minimap, I've researched Stellar Cartography to help me judge how many colony ships to send to that fifth cluster. Oh, and one more thing from the above picture: Nothing listed under "most powerful ship". I don't have a single warship to my name yet, not even so much as a free star fighter from an anomaly.
This is about where I saved the game, calling it "Land Grab". Originally I kept playing, scouting for minors near Yor and Drengin space, hoping they had freighters flying around. Well, I found some freighters all right: Torian freighters. I met the Torians WAY too soon, and quickly ended up in war with them: a war in which it looked like I might get squashed.
I decided to use my one replay without even bothering to play that bad situation out. Now I knew that there were no minors within a billion light years of me, and I would have to play this out the hard way, with no trade help on the tech front, no sales, no nothing. I reloaded.
Upon reload (not from the beginning, but from the Land Grab save with most of my colonization done) I kept my scouts home to bust the fog locally, avoiding early contact with Toria. My surveyor was sent southwest.
This time I met the Drengin sooner, but that was OK. We were alike in alignment, and they had a slow start, thus would not be in a bullying mood. Or so I expected.
The Drengin must have sent their initial colony ship east, as that cluster is the most developed. Bah, friggin idiots. If they had sent the first ship west, they'd grab the far left more quickly. Oh well.
Egads, look at my pathetic tech situation. Almost six years into the game, I don't have Shields, Photons, or even Propulsion Theory! You see me researching 1D Phasing because it is a very cheap tech that is worth much more in trade than it costs to research.
Oh, and lest my evil "brothers" get itchy trigger fingers, you see my military rating climbing as I build constructors to grab local resources while I can, more colony ships to grab remaining targets in my two expansion clusters, plus try for the fifth cluster -- and build freighters, and build defenders at the rest of my worlds. Finally some dark blue dots turning light blue.
A look at the painful situation of no contact with minors reaching deep in the game now:
My freighters were well on their way. My plan? Send them all to my evil brethren, believing I'd quite likely come to war before they could reach the good civs anyway, and the routes would be secure in the back lines. So I built three "temporary" freighters from front line worlds in my northwest cluster, and about ten freighters from back line multi-planet systems.
As my freighters sped along, the early ones connected to the nearest Yor and Drengin worlds to get some relations-boosting trade going for starters. These routes would be killed when the long ones finally arrived. Of course, I wanted to target multiplanet alien systems, and preferably in their back lines to be safer. Sadly, only one system for each AI met both these criteria, plus were far enough away to suit my tastes.
While nearing their destinations, some of my freighters ran across Altarian freighters, and the next turn, a Torian scout came in range of one of my planets. A few turns later, my surveyor spotted a Carinoid freighter going to the Drengin homeworld, from the far west.
The Carinoids only had four techs I didn't yet have, so I made a trade. One of the other minors had built Diplo Translators, so I had no hope of obtaining those any time soon, and with zero diplomacy bonus, my trading options were rather sad. Cari would not be much more help in that department, either. They would not pay cash for tech.
I managed to reach only two of the six yellow stars in the far eastern cluster. Torians got the other four, and wow did they send a big batch to one of them. Turned out to have four strong planets in that system, too. Bah.
The Altarians had managed to poach one system out of the Drengin's western expanse. That one system was so badly exposed, though, there was no way it could possibly survive a war.
One thing looked bad, though. Militarily, the Torians and Altarians were stronger than the other four majors combined, including me. Uh, that could pose some challenges.
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