Game Example III

The Dark Empire

(Brad Wardell)

Quickie Intro

This game was meant to demonstrate how a conquest victory would go. Unfortunately, things didn't quite go as I had planned and as I'm doing these on a Sunday, I didn't want to throw away the results. The good news though is that conquest did indeed happen. Against me. My mistake was at the start as we shall see...

Fall of the Evil Dark Empire

1.jpg (76058 bytes)

For conquest, I picked the war party which gives me bonuses in that area and put my points towards attack and defense. This is a medium sized map which means it took about 2 days of playing to "finish".

2.jpg (100363 bytes)

And I set all the AI opponents to "Bright". But here's where I made my mistake. Pride before the fall. Since I'm an expert at this game, I upped the ante. I made them bright but I also made them all "good" civilizations. I planned to play as evil as I could wiping out good everywhere. I hadn't ever really tried this out against the release level AI but I was pretty confident I could still conquer them all if I could do it one at a time.


new-6.jpg (103703 bytes)

So I start out with my main flag ship which I called Villain and sent it out to build it up for later. My strategy was to be a quick conquest. Build up the flag ship, and attack as soon as I could.

new-7.jpg (100213 bytes)

I got a pretty good start. As you can see, my UI has already changed to reflect my evilness. I've done everything from wipe out wildlife to enslave pre-industrial societies. Ethnic cleansing on a galactic scale.

new-8.jpg (69005 bytes)

I take an early lead in military might because my ships are so much stronger because of my start-up conditions. I use this advantage to begin getting the aliens to pay me tribute. So rather than building freighters right away, I have built up a strong military and simply extracting the wealth directly from the aliens.

new-9.jpg (62647 bytes)

My Cylon-like advisor lets me know that I have phasers. Now I can start cranking out even more ships.

new-10.jpg (82437 bytes)

The Yor are set to being good guys, as a result, the way they talk to me is quite different. In another game they greeted me by threatening to liquefy us.

new-11.jpg (98567 bytes)

And so it begins. It is interesting how if you add enough factors into the development of the computer players that a series of events that make sense in hindsight occur but are unexpected. I did expect this problem though but not what happens next...

new-12.jpg (99939 bytes)

The war goes well for me. My cheapo star fighters are as powerful as their corvettes because of my customized civilization. Incidentally on that, some people may object that you have to play as humans. But really, in this game I'm Mordor. I've customized my civilization to be completely different than I might in another game. The UI looks different, the graphics are different. Being "stuck" playing as human simply means you start out with Earth and get referred to as being a human. And you can rename your worlds so even there it's not a limitation.

new-13.jpg (102924 bytes)

The Torians will pay for their foolishness. This UI needs explaining because it was added after the manual went to manufacturing. I can bring up the ship list, and by clicking on the little arrow on the right next to each ship I can have them automatically go to whatever sector I'm looking at.

new-14.jpg (113894 bytes)

To really gear up, I am telling my governor to have every planet that is building a defender switch to build a frigate. No need to go to each planet on its own, I do it all at once.

new-15.jpg (100215 bytes)

My civilization's military abilities are incredible. The Torians have no chance. They may control a lot but they're a paper tiger compared to me. That's because each of my ships are so much more powerful. See how my weapon ability is +74%?  That means that a ship of mine with a base attack rating of say 10 becomes 17. So in effect, it takes almost two of their ships to beat one of mine.

new-16.jpg (87283 bytes)

But here's where I realize my mistake in the set-up. Because I'm evil and I set them to good, they don't like me just on principle. Additionally, as soon as I went to war with the Torians, they began sending freighters out like crazy to the Altarians and Drengin. Because I hadn't researched propulsion techs very well, I couldn't catch their freighters and stop them from doing this.

So now I'm at war with both the Torians and the Altarians at the same time. If you look at the graph, you can see that the Altarians did this even though I am more powerful than they are. They're not picking on me because I'm winning, they're picking on me because they need the Torians.

new-17.jpg (105092 bytes)

The Drengin follow suit. My starting location is not looking so cool now...

new-18.jpg (70340 bytes)

But remember, I am an expert at this game. Even all 3 of them against me isn't enough. Besides, I have made a lot of trade deals with the Arceans and so I have plenty of money and industrial capacity. And in fact, they all soon make peace with me while I build up to to take the war to the Torians.

new-19.jpg (76028 bytes)

I knock the Torians down with an invasion of a key world. They too make peace with me. Time to regroup and wipe them out. I am building a lot of frigates at this point .

new-20.jpg (111257 bytes)

It's not easy being evil. And in fact, there is one problem with everyone hating you -- it stunts your influence. That is why on the map, blue seems like it's so small. It's not so much that I'm losing but rather since no one likes me, my cultural influence is stunted. But it doesn't matter.  My military is strong. I am not trying to win friends and influence people. I am trying to convert these aliens to bone flecked jam.

new-21.jpg (87459 bytes)

Disaster! The Arceans are my primary trading partner. Because I am so evil, their people have come to hate us and as a result their government goes on an idealistic crusade. This I can't sluff off because I need their money.

new-22.jpg (70048 bytes)

So I go and ask for peace. But they're not interested.

new-23.jpg (107275 bytes)

And with the Arceans, the Torians and Drengin and Altarians follow. Everyone is out to kill me.

new-25.jpg (74566 bytes)

My last trade route is destroyed. I had switched to trading with the minor races.

Okay, enough for one day. I need to think about this. Having spent 3 hours playing, I need to find a way to turn this around...

new-26.jpg (110443 bytes)

Day 2 beings. I load up the game and the game reminds me where I was at...

new-24.jpg (119396 bytes)

And the invasions begin in earnest. I have no money left because I have no trade and I'm tapped out lease wise.

new-27.jpg (108401 bytes)

And my special star system, Wardell, is thinking of leaving me! Can you believe the nerve of that? Traitors!

new-28.jpg (108612 bytes)

It's over. One of the things about the GalCiv computer players is that at different intelligence levels, they play more intelligently. It's not a matter of where higher levels means giving them more money. It's that using metaverse data from the beta testers we tried to make it so that the different AI levels simulate newbie, decent, good, expert, god-like players and various levels in between. So at a low level, the AI will do things like mindlessly throw fighters against a starbase or send out transports all alone into hostile territory.

But I'm playing against "Bright" which means if you look at the above screenshot, the computer players are sending transports in a convoy. They have several battle cruisers escorting that transport. That means I can't hold off the invasion by sending out little ships to kill the transports.

As a result I lose.

What went wrong?

I was too cocky. A normal player would probably have not made the mistake of setting all the computer players to good while playing as evil. One reason is that most people probably won't realize that not only does each computer player have its own unique AI engine behind it, one that has different levels sets of algorithms it gets to use based on intelligence, but that they also play differently based on whether they are good, neutral, or evil.

By setting them all to good, I screwed myself because I didn't have any reliable trading partners. If I had set the Drengin to be evil, I could at least have traded with them. But I didn't so I had no reliable sources of trade income. Worse, they ganged up on me and even I couldn't withstand all of them. I could take out any of them individually but not all of them combined.

That said, I did have a good time. It was definitely cool seeing my frigates able to take out several of their ships. As my frigates went up in levels, I would send them home for repair. At one point, one frigate called Darkseid, was a level 7 frigate had an attack of over 25 (normally it would be like an 8).

The last straw was when my flagship, Villain, which got up to being level 12, was finally destroyed. I had done a lot of damage with it and was sending it to a home base for repairs. But the AI (and I knew it should do this but I had kind of hoped it wouldn't still) could see a heavily damaged ship that was >level 3 and sent fighter after fighter after it wearing it down and destroying it. I should have renamed that ship Boromir at the end.

Next game I'm going to try conquest again but this time it'll be good vs. evil.