Imperium Forty Five: Mulligan's Luck

The first Council election took place shortly after 2425, which meant that there wouldn't be another vote for some time yet. Here was the galactic map at the time:

This was the updated overview after I colonized the three Tundra worlds, with the last two of them over in what should have been Mrrshan space by all rights. I couldn't understand why the kitties never bothered to make a play for those planets; they had Controlled Tundra tech for something like two dozen turns before I was able to steal it, and they certainly could have swatted away my scouts if they made any effort. Whatever, I certainly wasn't complaining. There was a fourth Tundra planet down in Bulrathi space that the bears didn't have the tech to colonize (they only had Controlled Barren), and if I could get enough range tech, I planned to plant my banner there as well. I'd have claimed the spot right now with a Long Range colony ship if it hadn't been outlawed by variant rule. Range 9 tech was my only option to move the Propulsion tree forward after I picked up Warp 3 engines, and for once that would be useful.

I spent a little while building up my new colonies with population transfers and Reserve spending. I saw no reason to rush here; there was no scoring benefit for a faster finish, and it seemed safer to take the time and build up these new planets before getting involved in combat with the other races. You often get pressured by the other empires in Master of Orion, either directly from their ships or indirectly via the Council mechanics. The Humans and their awesome diplomacy can often let them bypass these kind of situations, and I was fortunate that I could take my time here. Build up those new planets, wait until after the 2450 Council election was safely passed, and then think about getting aggressive when all of my planets were able to defend themselves behind missile bases.

And something you get lucky too. Sol was hit with the mineral Poor event earlier, only to draw the mineral Rich event during these turns of building up. Unbelievable. Better to be lucky than good and all that.

The one missing piece that I needed to design a warship was a gun. I didn't turn up anything in my own tech tree - there were some gun options but I had kept picking missiles and bombs instead - so I traded for Fusion Beams with the Mrrshans and put this ship together. I've written this a couple of times before: the Fusion Beam and the Megabolt Cannon are my favorite guns in Master of Orion. They always seem to arrive right around when I want to start going on the offensive, and both of them have been part of more game-winning designs than I can recall. The Megabolt Cannon is better in most situations with its attack level bonus, but I do love the option to use a 2-range version of the Fusion Beam with its alternate Heavy version. I went with a Huge design to try and minimize attrition, although there would be no Autorepair special for me in this game. The total lack of specials did allow me to stuff more guns and bombs onto the design, though I would have happily traded away a couple Fusion Beams for a Battle Scanner and its attack level bonus. Only attack level 3 and Duralloy armor on this ship, both of them could be a lot better. Still, the focus of the ship design was the Class VI shield. The Mrrshans were still using Scatter Pack V missiles and this ship would be immune to their missile base defenses. Along with the Antimatter Bombs that this ship was packing, I would have the tools needed to run over their worlds.

I started out at Aquilae, the Ultra Poor Steppe world only 5 parsecs away from my home planet:

It had been nerve wracking to see the cats colonize this world only 30 turns into the game, but fortunately they never managed to get anything else in the territory around my homeworld. As an Ultra Poor planet, the Mrrshans hadn't had too much luck building up this world, although they were kind enough to get 130 factories for 2x the current population maximum (the cats lacked any form of Robotic Controls). The Mrrshan missile bases were completely feeble and proved unable to damage any of my ships. Their fleet fared no better, without guns strong enough to punch through the shielding on my new Huge design. I think that they were still using Scatter Pack V missiles and even some Lasers on the older designs. Nothing was a threat here. (I had of course checked out their ships ahead of time with The Mulligan and its Battle Scanners.) Even better, since I had scouted Aquilae in the early portions of the game, I was able to send population transports timed to arrive along with my navy:

The ground combat was just as one-sided as the space combat had been. Despite lacking any kind of ground weapons, Duralloy + Battle Suits + Personal Absorption Shield (another tech picked up in a trade) gave my Humans an advantage of +30 on each dice roll, more than what the Bulrathi get. The poor kitties were still using the basic Titanium Armor, for crying out loud. This was a complete slaughter and I easily occupied Aquilae. That caused the Mrrshans to declare war, of course, and there was a minor concern about losing their vote in the Council. However, the Meklars were still at war with the Bulrathi and that made it pretty safe that the cyborgs wouldn't vote for the space bears. I was also pretty confident that I could run over enough Mrrshan worlds to get to a veto block by the time of the next Council vote in 2475. I had Terraforming +40 finished at this point and Atmospheric Terraforming was underway to turn those Tundra worlds into normal environments. Subtract 2 or 3 votes from the cats, add 2 or 3 vote to me, and things shold be pretty safe.

I captured a little over 100 factories at Aquilae without finding any techs. That was rather poor luck, as the rough odds are discovering 1 tech for about every 50 factories captured on a planet (up to the maximum of 6 techs found). I made sure to secure Aquilae first for a couple of turns while already queueing up population transfers for the next world in line, then sent the fleet forward to the Mrrshan colony at Vox. That was a Poor planet that I'd also scouted earlier in the game, allowing me to send the transports ahead of time. This was another easy victory with no casulaties taken. Unlike the situation at Aquilae, my marines cleaned house on technology at Vox:

Holy cow, what a nice set of prizes! Battle Computer IV was a step up from my current tech, and it's always best to use your top Battle Computer when creating ship designs. (Battle Computers provide attack level, which determines how many of your shots hit the target. Extra attack levels are never wasted either, because if you go beyond 100% to-hit rate your base damage actually starts increasing.) The real winner here was the guns however. There was my beloved Megabolt Cannon, and along with it came an even better gun in the form of the Auto Blaster. This is a weapon that does the same 4-16 damage of a Fusion Beam but fires 3 times per turn. It's one of the most efficent weapons in the game, and a fantastic choice against everything other than heavily-shielded enemy designs. Since guns were the one area where my Weapons research had been lacking, this was about the best possible tech area to find from the Mrrshans. (To be fair, I had been ignoring guns because I planned to steal or capture them from the Mrrshans.)

The last piece that I needed to upgrade my Huge gunship design was a better warp engine. My Propulsion tree had both warp 2 and warp 3 available, but then no warp 4, warp 5, or warp 6 options. Just a whole bunch of Range techs and specials that I couldn't even use like the Warp Dissipator. This was enough for me to trade for Warp 5 engines (Impulse Drives) with the Bulrathi, handing them Improved Robotics IV in the deal. It was a powerful tech to give to the bears, but you can't really conduct offensive warfare on warp 3 ships and warp 2 transports. Not for long anyway. I drew up a new Huge gunship design with better Battle Computers, warp 5 engines, and Auto Blasters in place of Fusion Beams. While they would only be overkill against the Mrrshans, I had other targets in mind following this campaign against the cats.

Check out this result at Fierias:

Took the planet with 1 soldier remaining, ha! This wasn't particularly lucky or anything, I had about 200 more population incoming on subsequent turns, and I actually wasn't expecting to take the Mrrshan homeworld in the first wave. It still looked cool though. This finished cleaning out the cats of their remaining techs that I lacked and knocked them down to a single world. I flooded Fierias with population to flip it around into a new naval base for my empire, although I did have a lot of terraforming yet to do and factories to build. Time to get the planet up to 140 population and 560 factories, then start building more Huge gunships for the fleet.

The Mrrshans had one planet remaining at the time of the 2475 election when I took this screenshot. I had left them with that one planet to avoid triggering the diplomatic penalty for genocide right before a Council election, however it turned out that I needn't have feared the vote. I already had a veto block when this election was held, enough to make sure that I still would have avoided defeat even if everyone voted against me. As it was, I pulled the vote of the Meklars and the Alkari abstained, so I was nowhere close to defeat regardless. I had finally met the Psilons, who had a ton of tech and a Pacifistic personality as usual. The cursor was pointing to their homeworld in the above picture. It looked as though the western part of the map also had a lot of Hostile worlds, and that few of the AI races seemed to have the environmental techs needed to settle them. This would also explain why it took so long for the first Council election to be held. I wasn't too terribly concerned with the brainiacs in this galaxy. They hadn't developed into a runaway this time, and I could get the population that I needed to win without having to fight them directly.

I also want to call attention to the new blue flags down at the bottom edge of the galaxy. When I colonized the Tundra planet in Bulrathi space, it had opened up enough range to reach the stars on the southern edge of the map, and I sent out some scouts (still the initial starting design, the only one allowed with Long Range tanks) to check them out. I found two more Tundra planets down there that no one had colonized yet, and sent colony ships to claim both of them. I then used population transfers and Reserve spending to start building them up as quickly as possible, while acknowledging that they would be toast in any conflict with the Bulrathi. Don't be fooled by the "Minimal" rating indicated, they were all Tundra planets initially before Atmospheric Terraforming set in. As a result, my acquisition of Controlled Tundra tech from the Mrrshans eventually turned into six additional planets. I was sending further scouts off to the planets on the western edge of the galaxy in the hopes of finding some more unclaimed Hostile planets. I did find more of them, but they were all Dead or higher levels of hostility that I couldn't colonize. Oh well. Landing Controlled Tundra had still been an enormous advantage for my empire, one of the biggest game-changing moments for me.

I finished off the Mrrshans at their last planet right after the 2475 election. Relations plummeted with everyone but I had a veto block and I didn't particularly care. I had a solution to improving my diplomacy with the other races anyway: attacking the Meklars. Their Erratic nature had drawn them into wars with everyone on the map, including me, and they were widely detested by the rest of the galaxy. I didn't want to fight the Bulrathi next because they had an insurmountable edge in ground combat for the moment, and my fledgling colonies in their space would almost certainly be lost in the event of a war. Better to target the disliked Meklars and capture some of their excellent technology, then assess whether to go after the Bulrathi or the Psilons (or even the Alkari) after that.

I used the little red star just to the northeast of Meklar space as a convenient staging grounds for an attack. It held a Radiated planet that no one could colonize, and my warp 5 ships could jump from there to any of the five Meklar planets in a single turn. The first thing to do was see what the Meklar fleet was packing on their ship designs:

Hmmm, 10 Huges and almost 100 Large designs. That was pretty formidable. I wasn't too scared about the weaponry on those ships, as I was confident that my new Huge gunships packing 50 Auto Blasters apiece and Class VI shields could tear apart the Meklar ships in a fair fight, especially with most of the Meklar ships only having a tactical combat speed of 1. The real danger here came in the form of the specials that the enemy ships were packing. By variant rule I had no specials at all on my ships, and the Meklars had a whole bunch of Repulsor Beams and Warp Dissipators. My gunships all had 1 range weapons, and I could see that a straight up fleet vs fleet encounter was going to see my ships pushed back or frozen in place, never getting to use their weaponry. With the slow movement speed on the enemy ships, the classic answer here would be to create missile boats that could hit the Meklars at range and tear them apart from a distance. However, I still only had Scatter Pack V and Merculite missiles available, neither of which would be of too much use here. I resolved to make a third gunship design packing Heavy Fusion Beams with 2 tile range, which would give me a way of fighting back against the Repulsors on those enemy ships. My core planets got to work producing some of the new designs.

The following dozen or so turns saw a series of cautious tactical probes. I was moving my fleet from planet to planet owned by the Meklars, trying to find an opening to attack one of their colonies without facing their fleet at the same time. It was going to be bad enough to fight all those ships alone; I certainly wasn't going to attack them along with enemy missile bases in the mix too. The AI cheated in this regard, by the way, moving their fleet to the same planet where my fleet moved over and over again. It was impossible for them to guess the exact spot where I would be attacking eight times in a row, the AI obviously could see where I was going and then move its ships to counter. We were at a stalemate doing this dance for a little while, but eventually I split my fleet and was able to get the larger half of it a chance to attack Misha without the Meklar ships present, taking out the defensive bases and scouting the world. I didn't bomb out the factories for now, as I wanted to invade later and capture tech. However, when I had the chance to bomb the Ultra Poor planet of Xudax, I took the opportunity to blast the place:

Goodbye Meklar colony. Since there was no way that I could capture Xudax and stand it up quickly on defense, I decided that it was better to deny it to the Meklars completely. Ultra Poor planets just aren't that useful in a scenario like this. You need dozens and dozens of turns to build them up in safety far away from the front lines. My attacks on the Meklars did get attention from the other races, improving diplomacy with everyone else. The Psilons even sent me this message:

Wow, the AI actually gave me a tech for free of their own accord. You have no idea how rare that is if you haven't played this game; I think this is the second or third time this has ever happened to me in literally hundreds upon hundreds of hours spent playing Master of Orion. Thanks Psilons, even if this tech wasn't terribly useful. Everything helps a little bit with miniaturization after all.

The Meklars were not pleased at the way I had been sniping at them around the edges of their territory. They finally grouped their fleet together and sent it after my colony at the bottom edge of the map, the little blue flag off by itself in the center of the map. This was Obaca, and I had written it off as toast at the beginning of the war with the Meklars. However, they had been slow enough to attack Obaca that the planet managed to get a shield completed and a few missile bases finished, even though it was still well short of max factories. This was my best chance to face the cyborg fleet head to head, at a location where I had the planetary defenses advantage. Let's do this:

They were bringing 7 Huge and 101 Large ships against my 18 Huge designs. Since a Huge ship has six times the space of a Large ship, this was closer than you might think, with a modest advantage for the Meklar side. The really dangerous Meklar ship here was the Nemesis design, the group of 5 Huge ships in white coloring packing the Warp Dissipator and Repulsor Beam specials. The other Huge design (the Annihilator) had the same two specials but was significantly weaker in terms of the guns that it was packing. I decided that I would have my Heavy Fusion Beam ships target the smaller stack of the Annihilators to try and get those Repulsors/Warp Dissipators out of the fight. My other ships would go after the Large designs that the Meklars were bringing; the Nemesis was too heavily shielded to make much headway. This turned into a bloody fight, with my old Fusion Beam design getting frozen in place by the Warp Dissipators and eventually destroyed completely. I was able to retreat my Auto Blaster design just before they would have been wiped out as well. The Heavy Fusion design was also frozen in place and left unable to retreat, but it could keep firing back from 2 tile range and killed a good number of enemy ships before it fell. Brave pilots on those ships there. The whole time this was going on, my missile bases were firing away and inflicting slow but steady casualties on the enemy forces.

In the end, I wasn't able to prevail here. My ships that didn't retreat were all destroyed and Obaca's missile bases were blasted apart:

However, despite being a tactical defeat I was reasonably happy with how things had played out. I had taken out about half of the Meklar fleet, destroying both Annihilators, one Nemesis ship, and about 50 of the Large designs. On my end, the ships that were destroyed were the oldest part of my fleet, and they had probably been about ready to be retired anyway. The Meklars only had four planets and I actually had more production capacity than they did, able to replace my losses faster than them with newer and more powerful designs. With the Antimatter Bombs that my ships were packing, I could definitely overrun the Meklar planets. I only needed to remove their fleet to be able to accomplish that feat, and this battle had gone a long way towards achieving that goal. Poor Obaca would get bombarded between turns and then the Meklars would send in population transports for an invasion, but while they were busy with that, I was getting ready for a followup strike.

As I said before, what I needed was a missile boat to take down the Meklar ships. Their forces were slow and couldn't dodge, making them easy prey for advanced missiles. When I spotted that the Psilons had Scatter Pack VII available for trade, I snapped that up in a heartbeat. I don't recall what I traded them for it, but it didn't matter all that much. I wasn't planning on fighting the Psilons in this game, and they seemed content to leave me alone so long as I was fighting their hated enemy the Meklars. I had enough space to fit a 5-rack of Scatter Pack VII missiles on a Medium hull, giving the ship the highest attack level that I could muster. The downside to this design was its slow speed, with a combat movement of only 2 tiles. I would have preferred 3 movement here, just didn't have quite enough space for it. Even with the slower combat speed, Scatter Pack VIIs would be absolutely deadly against the Meklar ships, effectively firing 7 Merculite missiles at a time. I started building these in large numbers across my empire, able to produce about a dozen in total per turn. Once I had the total number up over a hundred, I planned to seek out another confrontation with the Meklar fleet.

While that buildup was taking place, we held the 2500 Council vote:

No one voted for me, heh. At least the Alkari abstained with their 2 votes; I thought that I would get the Psilon vote though thanks to my campaign against the Meklars. I think they had signed an alliance with the Bulrathi and that was enough to sway their vote. The good news was that I not only had a veto block, I was over 50% of the galactic population by this point. That was enough to make any future victory that I pulled off a "Domination" win according to Realms Beyond nomenclature, and enough to satisfy the scoring requirement outlined by shallow_thought for this particular game. Now all that I had to do was win the game itself. My hope was that I'd have enough population to take the 2525 or 2550 elections if I could run over the Meklars and pick up a bit more terraforming technology. I already had Advanced Soil Enrichment finished, which combined together with Atmospheric Terrarforming had made all of my planets huge. The next Planetology tech was Terraforming +60, up from my current Terraforming +40, and if I could deploy that for the next election, it might be enough.

I also needed to fulfill the other half of that plan, invading and capturing the Meklar planets. I chose to go after Misha, the planet where I had successfully removed the missile bases (but not the factories) earlier. Because I had scouted the planet earlier, I could send population transports in a coordinated invasion timed to hit when my fleet attacked the planet. The remaining half of the Meklar fleet was still occupied down at Obaca, where I'd managed to stop their initial population invasion by using Reserve spending to grow population via the Eco slider. This gave me a window to strike again at Misha, and I didn't waste the opportunity. My Scatter Pack VII missile boats blasted through the Meklar ships defending, while my Huge gunships took out the rebuilt missile bases with Antimatter Bombs. Then my marines hit the planet surface:

It took three turns of invading to capture Misha; this was simply the last turn. I had close to 100 population arriving each turn and wore down the defenders in a series of waves. The combat odds here were really ugly, with the Meklars having Adamantium to my Duralloy (+20), Armored Exoskeleton to my Battle Suits (+10), and the defender's natural advantage (+5) for a total advantage of +35 to their dice rolls. They were killing my guys in vast swarms, and on this turn their 16 defenders took out 76 attackers. Almost 5:1 casualties, scary stuff. If I hadn't researched Fusion Rifle earlier, this would have just been impossible, on the order of 20:1 casualties. When the defender's advantage gets past about +40 it becomes almost impossible to make any headway.

But the invasion had indeed succeeded, and now I was able to capture some tech goodies from the Meklars. Let's see what we pulled from Misha:

Ooh, some very nice stuff here. Ion Drives (warp 6 tech) were the biggest prize, as that would allow me to design ships with a tactical combat speed of 4, as well as increase the speed of all my population transports a little bit. I also picked up some improved ground weaponry, with Armored Exoskeleton granting me +10 on my combat rolls and Zortrium Armor adding +5. Now the Meklar advantage was down to only +20, still sizable but a lot less ridiculous. I really wanted their Adamantium Armor, which would both increase my ground combat rolls and let me design ships with much greater health totals. My Huge gunships only had 900 HP with Duralloy armor, whereas Adamantium ships would have 2100 HP! That's a big difference in terms of increasing survivability. The other techs were outdated but would help with miniaturization.

One of my favorite things about capturing Meklar planets is the ease with which they can be flipped around into your own powerful fortresses. Misha came with 364 factories and I could use those to build a planetary shield and missile bases for defense very quickly, especially with the help of Reserve spending. The Meklar fleet did manage to complete its conquest of Obaca, and now it came hurtling back toward Misha. I was happy to face them there, and blasted them straight out of the skies:

The Scatter Pack VII missile boats were the difference maker in this fight. I went into the battle with about 140 of them, and this meant that my initial salvo of missile packed the equivalent of roughly 1000 Merculite missiles. I knew I was in good shape when that first salvo hit a stack of Meklar Large ships and killed about 35 of them at once. Bam! Take that. The Meklars were able to freeze my missile boats in place with their Warp Dissipator, but that didn't save them since my little Medium ships could keep firing even while frozen in place. I captured an image of the last Meklar ships exploding into pieces as they were hit by more of the deadly missiles. This was a complete victory and the Meklar fleet was routed afterwards. Now they had nothing left to stop me from running over their core worlds.

I decided to roll them up in clockwise fashion, starting at Meklon and then going for Rotan and Beta Ceti. Pictured above are some of the population transports flooding towards the Meklar home planet, where I had already bombed out the missile bases to get a scouting report on the planet surface. No Advanced Space Scanners available in this game, I had to do the invading the hard way by taking out the bases first. This drill is familiar to longtime players of Master of Orion, the routine mopup work of a defeated foe once their fleet has been eliminated and the player has enough technology to deal with enemy missile bases and ground defenses. I spent about 3 turns at each planet, building it up before moving on to the next one. Nice and easy like clockwork. The Meklars were already defeated, it was just a matter of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.

More goodies. Improved Robotics V was a step up from the Robotics IV that I had been using. Tritanium Armor nearly closed the remaining gap on ground combat; I would get Adamantium Armor from the next planet I invaded. Improved Industrial 4 was another upgrade; I think that I had been using Improved Industrial 5 at the time. As I said though, this was nothing more than mopup work, which fortunately can be done pretty fast in Master of Orion. The true challenge had been defeating the Meklar fleet, and I had solved that by getting access to a missile boat for which they had no response. I rolled through the remaining core worlds and then eliminated the Meklars completely down at Obaca:

It felt good to have Obaca back into the fold again, righting the wrong of its capture. The other races weren't too happy about my second genocide, although I didn't care much about what they thought. The Bulrathi were my next target, and I immediately moved to capture Xudax, the Ultra Poor planet that I had formerly bombed out when it was a Meklar colony. Being Ultra Poor, the Bulrathi hadn't had time to build much in the way of defenses there and I was able to capture it without much trouble, flooding the planet with more marines to take it over formally. Invading Bulrathi planets is always a pain, and without the Meklar technologies that I had captured it likely would have been impossible. (This was another reason why I went after the cyborgs first.) Then I went after the next Bulrathi planet in line, one of their core worlds in the south, and I was stopped cold by their static defenses. They had Pulson missiles and 14 points of shielding for their bases, which were enough to hold off my current fleet. I knew when the first round of bombs hit and only killed 5 bases that I wouldn't have enough to get through that particular planet's 50 bases. I had been building mostly Scatter Pack VII missile boats to deal with the Meklars, and they were useless against the Bulrathi static defenses. I needed to design a new ship focused around killing planetary bases, not a design for ship-to-ship combat. For the moment, I backed off.

The 2525 Council election was about to take place, and I decided to see if I could prevail there before hitting the Bulrathi again. I had discovered Terraforming +60 two or three turns earlier, and managed to get all of my planets up to their new max sizes before the vote. Would that be enough? It was hard to tell on the population bar graphs. The Bulrathi weren't going to vote for me, and I doubted the Psilons would either, not after I had killed off two other races. I thought that the Alkari might be persuadable though. They were the runts of this galaxy and I'd barely seen them all game to date. They wouldn't agree to declare war on the Bulrathi, but I had gotten them to sign an alliance with me right before finishing off the Meklars, and I thought perhaps that would do the trick.

As it turned out, I was very glad that I had taken the time to cultivate the birds:

They did in fact vote for me and their 3 votes proved to be the difference. My 33 votes put me at 62% overall, and they put me over the top to 68% of the galaxy's population. Domination win in 2525, perfectly done! While I certainly could have run over the Bulrathi and won at the next Council vote, this would save me another hour or two of grinding down the bear homeworlds. Thank you very much for saving me the hassle, Alkari.

Here are the final bar graphs for the game. As usual, Master of Orion correctly recognized that this was a won game and allowed me to cash out my dominant position with a victory. This was the first Council election where I was definitively ahead in Total Power, and sure enough, that's when the victory presented itself. The most noteworthy aspect of this game was my performance in Technology, where I never fell too far behind the AI races. Certainly this was a lot better than most of my Impossible games in that regard. This was due to two factors. First, the Human ability to stay peaceful with almost everyone allowed me to spend most of the first 150 turns in pure economy mode, researching and speeding up my growth curve instead of being forced to invest in ships and bases. It makes a gigantic difference when almost all of your spending is going into tech instead of military in a desperate attempt to stay alive. Second, the AI empires were more feeble than normal due to there being so many Hostile planets that no one could settle. This was a notably bad performance from the Impossible AIs, none of whom were able to run away with the game. I don't think any of them were ever able to get more than 8 planets; heck, it was my empire that GNN was mentioning for the expansion warnings, not some terrifying AI threat. With the chance to develop in peace and no AI empires proving to be a serious menace, this turned into a routine game after the early turns.

That said, the early turns were difficult indeed and there was the potential for a lot to go wrong in this game. The situation in 2330 when two different AI races grabbed planets right next to Sol was very, very scary. The Humans were the perfect race to play for this game, leveraging their diplomatic expertise and trading bonanza to avoid a potentially deadly trap. And without patting myself on the back too much, I think that I played things quite well in terms of big picture strategy, keeping peaceful relations throughout the early game with all of my neighbors, then colonizing the Tundra planets to double the size of my empire, then annexing the weak Mrrshans, and finally finishing things off with the diplomatically-isolated Meklars. I never fought more than one opponent at a time, and my core worlds were never seriously threatened. It was one step at a time the whole way from beginning to end, with never a chance to suffer a military defeat or a Council loss. This might be one of my favorite overall games, one where I felt that I was in total control ever since I managed to secure my initial five planets.

In scoring terms, that should earn me the maximum possible 14 points available. I even managed to do it in a reasonably good time with the 2525 finishing date. Thanks to shallow_thought for putting this together, it was a great scenario and I had a lot of fun.