Imperium Forty Two: Life, The Universe, and Everything

After getting shellacked at Endoria, the Meklars were very willing to sign peace with me, and we concluded a treaty on the same turn that the planet changed hands. I immediately began pouring more population and reserve money into the planet, using those additional factories that the Meklars had built with their racial ability to help get the defenses up and running again. I was also reintroduced to the Sakkra once more, who remained at war with me, which allowed me to turn my spies lose against their backwards race once again. I also met the Klackons for the first time, who had only two planets to their name:

The bugs didn't like me very much either. Yeah, yeah, yeah, no surprises there. The Mrrshans pick fights with anyone and everyone in Master of Orion; you'd think that the cats would be a little smarter than that. The Klackon homeworld was the blue flag in the south, right next to the Sakkra and Meklar homeworlds. None of them had ever really gotten going in this galaxy, and they remained weak and divided. The Alkari and the Darloks remained the major powers, with the Darloks slowly gaining the upper hand over the birds. Too much warring on the part of the Alkari, I think, while the Darloks had remained more peaceful, although they were also in a bunch of wars by this point too. In the 2450 Council election, I was pitted against the Darloks this time, and found to my pleasure that I had enough votes for a one third block, if just barely (11/32). I was never in any danger during this vote, as the Meklars and Klackons were both at war with the Darloks and voted for me. With Controlled Radiated tech about halfway finished at this point and three more planets ready to be claimed once it finished, I felt confident that I would have enough population to block a potential loss from this point forward. Now I could play more aggressively and worry less about who I angered.

For a more complete picture, here were the bar graphs from the same turn in 2450. I was very pleased to see how competitive I was in these rankings, leading the way in Population and tied with the Darloks in Planets. The Darloks also had some very scattered planets that would be easy pickings if it came to war with them later. I was close to the lead in Production despite no Robotic Control upgrades as yet, and surprisingly close to the leader in Technology and Fleet Strength. I hadn't really done that much shipbuilding yet, only about 100 missile boats, and therefore this was a very encouraging sign. Total Power had my empire ranked in second, equal to the Alkari and closing in on the Darloks. I was feeling very good about how things stood here.

My plan was to go after the Sakkra next, who were both weak and diplomatically isolated. They had picked fights with everyone else, and that left them technologically backwards, ripe for conquest. Because I was already at war with the Sakkra, there was nothing stopping me from cutting my spies loose and taking advantage of their poor Computers tech:

Improved Industrial 8 was a nice pickup since I hadn't researched a single industrial tech myself, although I did trade for II9 earlier. Range 7 was a jump up from the Range 5 tech that I had been using. As a tip to our newer players out there, I recommend passing on researching all range techs beyond Range 6 unless there's a specific strategic need for additional range. It's pretty rare to need anything further away than that, and by the time Range 7 is available, you can almost always put Long Range Fuel Tanks on a colony ship to grab something in a corner of the map. Plus, there are range techs scattered throughout the Propulsion tree, and the AI loves to research them. For me, longer range techs are something to capture in invasions, not something to research myself.

I spent most of the next 25 years researching another generation of military tech, planning on attacking the Sakkra with a swarm of Small ships packing Fusion Bombs once warp 4 tech finished. There didn't appear to be any great need to hurry here, not with a safe Council veto in hand and with the need to tech up to something capable of defeating the Guardian. I set my sights on the Sakkra homeworld:

Which was named Vogsphere in this galaxy, thanks to another map edit. There were also two empty stars off to the southeast of their homeworld, one of them labeled "Sol" in another Hitchhiker reference. I guess our planet was destroyed to make way for that hyperspace bypass. Anyway, it turned out that I considerably overestimated the strength of the Sakkra. Their planetary defenses were feeble, and thanks to capturing that Armored Exoskeleton tech, I had a major advantage in ground combat. Once I was able to get population transports over there, the planet fell easily:

I had not been intending to wipe out the Sakkra completely. However, in the intervening time between launching my invasion and the transports arriving on Vogsphere, the only other Sakkra planet had been captured by the Meklars, who they were also fighting. (The Sakkra had been at war with everyone else seemingly the whole game.) There was no way to stop the invasion once launched, and I did want control of the lizard homeworld for use in upcoming invasions. So I wiped them out, and while everyone else complained, there wasn't anything they could do about it. Vogsphere held several useful techs, with Class VI shields being the best. The Sakkra also had +40 Terraforming, which unfortunately I did not manage to capture. No more chances to capture tech from them anymore either. I would have to get it from someone else.

Improved Robotics IV finished research shortly after my cats eliminated the Sakkra, and this initiated a major period of factory construction across the Mrrshan empire. I had missed out on Robotics III, and thus every planet was doubling their factory count all at once. That took about a dozen turns to complete, but my Total Income from Planets nearly doubled by the time it was done, with research and shipbuilding capacity expanding to match. While this was going on, the Darloks were stealing a worrying number of techs from me, with this being the worst culprit:

Hmmm. That wasn't good. The shapeshifters were doing their normal thing and had a major lead in Computers tech. I was still hoping to avoid conflict with them out of respect for our fruitful relations earlier in the game. If they kept that up though, I might have to intervene and start taking away some of their spying toys. At the very least, I needed to get more Computers tech to stop them from stealing so many of my secrets. They managed to get almost a half dozen techs in a short period of time, and that was only the thefts that I knew about.

Next up on the chopping block were the Klackons. They were almost as weak as the Sakkra had been, with only two planets to their name, and Kholdan would be a fine addition to my territory. With the Sakkra and Klackon homeworlds right next to one another, it would be easy to flip both of them into Mrrshan fortresses and then use their large sizes (base pop = 100 like all homeworlds) to invade all of the surrounding planets. I was using a Small warp 4 Fusion bomber as my tool to crack planetary defenses, along with a Huge gunship packing the Megabolt Cannon for fleet to fleet combat. The Klackons had no answer to those ships, and I took their homeworld without much trouble:

Kholdan yielded up several useful techs, with Atmoshphere Terraforming particularly helpful given all the Rich Hostile worlds in my core. Reduced Industrial Waste 40% was also a generation ahead of my waste cleanup tech efforts. I had managed to trade for Improved Eco Restoration with the Meklars eventually, but I was still hurting a bit in that area. Too bad I didn't manage to find the Ion Rifle to aid in my ground invasions. Using the new prize of Atmospheric Terraforming, I then traded it to the Darloks in exchange for a huge increase in Computers tech:

Battle Computer VIII? Wow. That was a major leap forwards; I had just finished researching Improved Robotics IV (tech level 18), and BC VIII took me up to a tech level of 35! While this was a significant tech to hand over to the Darloks, it wasn't as though I faced any risk of a Council vote loss anymore, and I feared they would simply steal it from me anyway. With my Computers tech level leaping up three generations in a single night, suddenly the spying penetrations disappeared completely. That was one problem dealt with. Even better, I could now deploy my spies against the non-Darlok races with a good chance of success. And Mrrshan accuracy added together with this new battle computer would make my ships even more deadly in space combat.

The Klackons were now reduced to a single distant colony on the northern side of the map. I didn't even have the range to get up there, and signed peace with them once they were willing to talk. Here was the map in 2500 after reaching a treaty with the bugs, and as I prepared to attack my next opponent:

I had roughly half of the galactic population by now, and in a normal game, I would be preparing to line up other races to my side in the Council vote to ensure a quick victory. For this game though, I still needed to conquer Orion, and the fastest way to do that was to continue conducting invasions to capture more techs from the AI races. Since I was still sticking to my decision to retain peace with the Darloks, the Meklars made for the obvious next target. Their core was in easy range of my new conquests, and they had tons of factories for me to take on each planet. I was hoping to sweep through their territory and then proceed on to the Alkari next. It's normally easier to go after the small fry in Master of Orion than the AI powerhouses, although of course that's not always an option due to the politics of the Council. With no restrictions here, I could mop up the other races at the time and place of my choosing.

I started at Gorra, the Minimal planet in the south of the map that had previously been controlled by the Sakkra. The Meklars were operating with Merculite missiles and 12 points of planetary shielding, decent stuff but certainly doable with the resources I had on hand. Gorra proved to be a disappointment on capture, with 230 factories present but only a single outdated tech found there. Sheesh, that had to be a terrible dice roll; normally 200+ factories means three or four techs. I had better luck at Denubius, the Desert planet to the north of the Sakkra and Klackon homeworlds:

That was some very good stuff there; I had skipped Soil Enrichment earlier on the tech tree in favor of Controlled Radiated tech, and as normal for me, had not gone back to research it in the hopes of capturing it or getting Advanced Soil later on. With Atmospheric Terraforming already in hand, all my planets would be able to benefit. Improved Industrial 4 was another massive upgrade, since I had been using II8 previously, and that one had been taken by my spies. I don't think I researched a single Improved Industrial tech all game long. Now all those new factories opened up via Soil Enrichment would be much cheaper. In the Force Field category, landing another shield upgrade was also quite nice. Next up there for my research would be the Class XV Planetary Shield. If I could pair that along with the Scatter Pack VII missiles that I was almost done researching, my missile bases would be essentially invincible.

I did not get the tech that I most wanted though: the Meklars had Tritanium armor, and that was making these ground invasions rather painful. The total net bonus to the defender here was +20, making every battle Bulrathi-like in nature. I was working on Andrium armor and that would cut the penalty in half, but I was hoping to skip straight ahead to Tritanium and bypass three generations of armor tech. Denubius failed to deliver, but surely Meklon would give me the tech I wanted, right? It had over 800 factories after all. With nextdoor Kholdan and Vogsphere pouring in population transports, I managed to take Meklon in a bloody series of ground invasions, then immediately flipped it around into an unassailable bastion:

With Reserve spending to double its production, Meklon could build its planetary shield and ten missile bases in a single turn. Sheesh. I love invading the Meklars when I get to take those factories! Still no Tritanium armor yet, although the next planet in line would have to deliver up the tech. I had cleaned out almost everything in the possession of the cyborgs. However, when I went to invade Ajax, I found to my dismay that my Fusion Bombs were barely scratching the planet's surface. What happened? Ah, the Meklars had just finished researching their own version of the Class XV Planetary Shield, and combined with their Class VII deflectors, they would shortly reach 22 points of shielding, enough to render Fusion bombs useless. For the moment the defenders had only finished the Class X version of the shield, with 17 total points of shielding, and that was blocking nearly all of the damage from my bombs.

Well, well, well. This was an unusual situation. Normally I'm the one cowering behind missile bases while unbeatable AI fleets travel back and forth in space. This time, I had the unstoppable fleet edge while the AI was the one who had bases I couldn't crack. The Meklars were on the verge of earning a reprieve for the time being. I would have to come back later with better weapons or a new bomb tech and use that to get past their missile bases. This particular game was very stingy in bomb technology: no Fusion Bomb, no Antimatter Bomb, no Omega-V Bomb in the Mrrshan tech tree. I had captured Fusion Bombs from the Meklars, remember. None of the other AIs seemed to have Antimatter or Omega-V bombs either, which was good in terms of my own safety, although it did make it harder to break the AI defenses too. I would figure something out though. If all else failed, I could always see what techs I picked up from invading Orion and potentially use those to break the stalemate with the Meklars.

I had been forced to retreat from Ajax when my Fusion Bombs ran out; there's a limit of ten bombs per combat, and I had gone through all of them. Still, I decided to take one more shot at the planet. The Meklars didn't quite have the Planetary Shield XV done yet, and I could just barely get through what they had right now. I had my four planets in the region spend one turn cranking out more Fusion bombers, producing an additional 200 or so of them, and then returned back to Ajax. Once again, I used up all my Fusion bombs and had to retreat, but by now the planet was down from 35 bases on the initial attack, to 20 bases on the second attack, to a mere 5 bases now remaining. I could see that the Meklars weren't going to get the planetary shield they needed done in time, and on the third attack I finally broke through. Here was my fleet in action as it wrapped up at the tail end of this fighting:

These were the ship designs that I used to do nearly all of my conquering. I used the Fusion bombers to take out most of the missile bases, and the Huge designs for fleet to fleet combat. There were a couple more Graviton ships that I built earlier and lost; the Megabolt design seemed to be almost invincible against the ships that the AI races were fielding. Mostly they ran away when that group of Huge ships showed up. It was too bad that I didn't have the Autorepair special for this game; the Alkari had it in their tech tree, but I hadn't managed to pick it up. In any case, with the bases down it was relatively easy to invade Ajax. The invasion captured 280 factories... and landed me all of one tech, sheesh! Granted, that one tech was the highly useful Planetary Shield XV itself and would make all my worlds completely invulnerable to the AI fleets, but come on. Still no Tritanium armor despite all these planets taken.

In this corner of the galaxy, the next planets in line were Willow, Yarrow, and Escalon, with the last one being held by the Alkari. I planned to leave the Meklars with possession of Willow to keep them from being eliminated entirely from the game, and move on Yarrow and Escalon together. Yarrow had no missile bases at all, making it easy to invade with population. No need to worry about a Planetary Shield XV finishing and making the missile bases invincible. As for the Alkari on Escalon, they only had Planetary Shield V defenses and were much weaker than the Meklars in ground combat. I took both planets on the same turn, and this time the tech floodgates opened up:

Oh sure, now I finally get my hands on Tritanium armor when I have no more Meklar planets left to invade! Well, I shouldn't be complaining, as it would prove to be helpful in the invasion of the Alkari core worlds. It was truly bizarre how Ajax yielded only one tech with its 280 factories, and then I pulled four different techs from Yarrow and its roughly 100 factories. Go figure. Also note the Omega-V Bombs there, which would allow me to run over anyone in this galaxy regardless of shielding. The maximum possible is only 35 points of shielding for missile bases, and Omega-V bombs do 20-50 damage. That tech was lifted from the Alkari, a brand new discovery on their part, and it seemed wise to run over them before they had a chance to design anything packing those bombs. Although I had very deadly bases packing Scatter Pack VII missiles right now, perfect for eliminating the Alkari's love of Small ships, there was no need to take any chances.

This was my position at the time of the 2525 Council election. Yarrow and Escalon were the two green flags right next to each other on the eastern edge of the map. I fell a little bit short of enough population to win an outright Conquest victory in this election, at 24/41 votes (59%). In a normal game, I would have lined up all the other races against the Darloks and won the game here as a Domination victory. For that matter, I could have rolled over the Darloks with ease by now; their missile bases were still shooting Hyper-Vs, for heaven's sake! I expect most players to take them over in this game. However, they had left me alone the whole game, and I felt obliged to leave them alone in return. In contrast, the Alkari, the Meklars, and the Sakkra had been my enemies the whole game, and I fully intended to humble all of them. I still needed to defeat the Guardian and claim Orion though for this particular Imperium, and that would increasingly be my focus in the remaining turns.

The Sakkra and Meklars had already been crushed by the time of this vote in 2525. The Alkari had largely been out of range until recently though, and this was my first chance to meet them head-on. Over the next dozen turns, I would decisively crush them in a steady steamroller operation, taking a new planet every 2-3 turns and using Reserve money to stand up defenses over it before moving on to the next world. I invaded each planet using transports, taking the factories intact and grabbing some more useful techs, especially in Propulsion where the Alkari were quite skilled as usual. The High Energy Focus and Combat Transporters are two of my favorites in the lategame portion of that tree, and I swiped them both from the birds. This offensive was carried out entirely by the planets in my second core on the eastern side of the galaxy. The Vogsphere / Kholdan / Meklon group of planets were routinely sending 30m population off for invasions every turn, using Eco spending to remax in population each time. They also squeezed out some more Fusion bombers from time to time to replace losses. I had Advanced Space Scanner by now and could send the population in ahead of time, then hit the planet when the transports arrived on the same turn. The Alkari were a long way behind in gropo tech, with my total bonus adding up to +40 on every dice roll. That meant roughly 3:1 casualties in my favor, making this an easy task. By the time that 2540 rolled around, I had reduced the birds to that single planet off in the far northeast, where I was content to let them huddle in isolation for the remainder of the game.

While all this was going on, my original core worlds in the west had another task: preparing to defeat the Guardian.

I didn't even know what stats the Guardian possessed, and therefore I put a Battle Scanner on a Small hull (yep, had enough miniaturization to do it) and sent a poor unfortunate pilot to her death. That revealed the information in the screenshot above. The Guardian is a nasty ship indeed, with weaponry designed to defeat almost any ship setup possible. The Scatter Pack Xs function as a ten-shot of Stinger missiles; that's effectively 850 missiles per volley, deadly for a swarm of Small ships. The Death Ray deals 200-1000 damage per shot, and serves as a counter to Huge designs. Even a Class XV shield is pointless against that thing. The Stellar Converters are an all-around great weapon, dealing 10-35 damage and hitting 4 times per shot, while the Plasma Torpedos have the highest Weapon tech level in the game. They do 150 damage per shot, although they lose 15 damage per tile traveled. Basically, this thing has all of the best weaponry possible you can get in Master of Orion.

But saying that still undersells the Guardian. It has a very high attack level of 10, causing its shots to auto-hit against anything that doesn't have top-tier engines. The beam defense and missile defense of 9 are also much higher than normal for a Huge ship, making the Guardian harder to hit in turn. At least I would have a counter to that by playing as the Mrrshans in this game. Add in Class IX Shields, the High Energy Focus, and the Advanced Damage Control (heals 30% of max HP per round of combat, like a double strength Autorepair special), and you have one heck of a strong ship. I needed to come up with my own ship in response; here's what I decided to build:

I've always heard that it's better to take on the Guardian with lots of Small ships than a handful of Huge ones, and now I can see why. There's simply too much firepower on the Guardian to try to match it with other capital ships. It's better to accept that you're going to lose a ship to every shot from the main guns, and swarm the thing with thousands of little fighters. I went with a Small design packing the Megabolt Cannon along with the best Battle Computer I could fit, BC V. I dearly would have liked warp 6 technology to achieve a combat speed of 4 (no Inertial Stabilizer for me), but it was still under research. This would have to do.

The question of how many ships I would need to stand a chance of killing the Guardian was a fairly simple math problem. The Megabolt Cannon does 2-20 damage per shot; against 9 points of shielding, that worked out to 3.47 damage per shot. However, not all shots would hit the target, and I would need to calculate the to-hit rate. The Battle Computer gave this design a base attack level of 5, plus 4 more points for being the Mrrshans, plus 3 more points due to the unique special aspect of using the Megabolt Cannon, and I ended up with an attack level of 12. The Guardian has a beam defense of 9, which gave me an advantage of three points. The base to-hit odds are 50% if both sides are the same; with an advantage of three, my to-hit odds became 80%. So overall, I would expect each shot to deal 3.47 damage times 80% to-hit ratio = 2.78 damage per shot. Divide 10k health on the Guardian by 2.78 damage per shot, and I would expect to need about 3600 of these fighters to get the job done. Of course, that wasn't including losses to the Guardian in combat, and that was also assuming that I did all the math correctly. I planned to send a lot more than 3600 fighters to be on the safe side.

While my core was building a fleet of Megabolt fighters, I finished Advanced Soil Enrichment and traded for Terraforming +40 with the Klackons, doing both forms of terraforming at the same time to reduce micromanagement. That led to this result on the Planets screen:

Gaias everywhere and population increasing across the board as the terraforming completed. I had 28 planets at this point, and with the empty stars included, there were only 44 planets total in this galaxy. I had no worries about winning in the next upcoming Council election. One other thing jumped out at me about this game: nearly all of the planets in the player's initial starting core were on the small side in this game. Lots of base sizes in the 20-50 range, and almost nothing larger than that. Even with all of this lategame terraforming tech, the non-homeworld planets were still barely cracking 100 population. I'm curious as to whether this was a deliberate scenario design choice, or a coincidence that this map happened to produce by chance. Hopefully thrawn and RefSteel will explain after this game finishes.

This is another beautiful screenshot. Yes, that's an Ultra Poor planet completing 720 factories. Unlike a lot of players, I always try to max out my Poor and Ultra Poor planets with factories over time. This is likely not economically efficient, since it takes so long for these planets to get them finished. Having these planets sit on research the whole game probably comes out ahead overall. However, for me the key thing in Master of Orion is always security. I hate losing planets, and I always make sure that planets can defend themselves, even if it takes a very long time. Remember, there's no time limit and no scoring in this game. Stalaz never came under attack in this game, and was unlikely to ever see an enemy fleet, but I could have defended it if necessary. I did have a Planetary Shield XV on this world along with a missile base, and I could have crash-built more as necessary. If you never build factories on Poor/Ultra Poor planets, they'll always be at risk of being captured. Besides, once the initial factories are built, it's pretty easy to add more of them. It's getting the initial 2x population factories that are the hard part. For me, strategic defensive concerns outweigh the efficiency of using these planets purely for research and population transfers. Your mileage may vary.

Anyway, by about 2540 I had a sufficient fleet of Megabolt fighters to go after the Guardian:

I had been planning to attack once I had 10,000 of these ships and that moment had now arrived. This is the first time that I've ever had over 10k of a single ship design; normally it's the AI who has fleets like that. I went ahead and ordered the invasion, with a colony ship queued up to follow on the next turn. Unless something really weird happened, this should be enough firepower to win.

There's an optional award for whoever comes up with the most stylish way of defeating the Guardian. My tactics here were the exact opposite of stylish. With no previous experience at this encounter, I opted to move straight towards the Guardian. My fighter design didn't have enough tactical combat speed to dodge the Scatter Pack X missiles, and as a result I didn't try. The various other beam weapons didn't seem to have much effective on my ships, but those missiles took out nearly 1000 fighters when they hit. Ouch! I suspect they were all hitting and killing one ship apiece, taking out 850 of my ships at a time. I had to absorb two volleys before closing next to the Guardian, and that left a little over 8000 of my ships to shoot. Would it be enough?

Yes, and it wasn't particularly close. From my best estimate, the stack that I had here did 22,962 damage according to the expected damage formula. That was clearly much more than the 10k needed to finish off the Guardian. In retrospect, it looks like I needed about 5000 or so of the fighters to take down the boss monster, including losses in combat, and so I used about twice what was needed. Better safe than sorry though. This also confirmed one of the things that I've long suspected about pursuing Orion. Those fighters cost 21 BC apiece, and I needed roughly 5000 of them to defeat the Guardian. In other words, that was an investment of about 100k in income, and of course I'd spent twice that here. If your empire is strong enough to build that large of a fleet, your empire is strong enough to win the game in some other fashion. I'm struggling to see how a fleet made up of 100k BC worth of ships wouldn't be strong enough to run over the rest of the galaxy. The planet Orion is essentially a novelty - an optional "achievement" that doesn't particularly matter in terms of winning or losing the game itself.

With all that said, the tech haul from Orion (err, Magrathea here) was legitimately impressive. I found the techs for Death Ray (always present), Zyro Shield, Plasma Rifle, and the Black Hole Generator. Nasty stuff there, I can see why the research for all those lethal devices was locked behind the Guardian for safekeeping. I went ahead and colonized the planet, which was immediately targeted by the AI races for their own colonization efforts. I had to chase away a bunch of weak ships, although that wasn't exactly tough with freaking EIGHT THOUSAND Megabolt Cannon ships on hand. They got the picture pretty fast. Then I sent a whole bunch of population transports to stand up the planet faster, and I accidentally sent one batch of them to the Darlok Ultra Rich planet next door. They had missile bases there, except I had Combat Transporters and half of them made it down to the planet's surface, where my superior ground weapons (including the new Plasma Rifle) took out the defenders, even with only 15m of my own cats making the landing. The Darloks immediately declared war of course - whoops. Sorry about that guys. That was legitimately an accident, although it served to show how easily I could wipe everyone out and win an Extermination victory at this point, if that had been my goal.

Instead, I was content to run out the clock on the last couple turns before the next election. Improved Robotics VI, Improved Industrial 2, and Terraforming +60 all popped on the final interturn before the Council vote. What a waste that I didn't get to use them! Once I stopped building all those Megabolt ships, my tech rate exploded in the final few turns. Research was up to 17k on the last turn of the game - and that was without the new factories and terraforming.

Here's the final map before the Council met in 2550. I held the Darlok border in the north and conquered in a counterclockwise circle around the rest of the galaxy, leaving individual Darlok worlds alone wherever they happened to stand. The Alkari, Klackons, and Meklars were all left with a single planet remaining, none of them still holding their homeworlds. That Ultra Poor planet in the center of the map was endlessly fought over by the AI in this game, changing hands dozens and dozens of times. I stayed out of there and let them play with the hot potato. Finally, note the Poor world that had no planet in the southeast corner of the map. That was the Sol system, the result of a map edit. Definitely not a natural occurence in Master of Orion.

Bar graphs for reference. They make it clear that this game was over a long time ago.

And so I won a Conquest victory in 2550 with 42/54 votes (78%). All three of the other races cast their single votes in favor of me; it's pretty easy to get them to vote for you when the game is well in hand like this.

Overall, this was a very entertaining game, and I'm glad that I was able to take part in it. The scenario itself based around defeating the Guardian was interesting only for its novelty; I wasn't particularly invested in that goal. The map itself was great though, and it was a very real challenge for the first 150 turns of the game. The local terrain around the homeworld forces some difficult choices on the player, and if the player picks the wrong techs in the wrong order, they could potentially have a much harder time in this game. Tyr and Endoria are the key planets for the player to control. If the AI races are able to claim them, then things will be much more difficult. The interesting thing is that the starting area itself is pretty strong in this game, with no AI on top of the player and a lot of worlds to claim. However, the diplomatic situation in this game is absolutely terrible, and there's essentially no way to avoid early warfare. If this were a Human game, it would be a cakewalk. The fact that this is a Mrrshan game is what makes it tough. In particular, avoiding a Council loss when all the other races hate the player (or are Erratic in the case of the Meklars) requires both skill and luck. This will be a great challenge for our newer players, and I hope they're up to it. I've been playing this game for a decade now and it was nerve-inducing for me until I could reach the critical 1/3 veto block in the Council. The second half of this game was a bit on the boring side, but only because I had to delay victory to defeat the Guardian. The scenario itself was a worthy challenge.

Finally, thanks again to thrawn and RefSteel for putting this together and sponsoring the event.