Let's Play Master of Orion Classic Part 4: Meklars part 4

Welcome back. Last time, we had the Darloks steal the system of Galos from under our noses, and then repeatedly and bloodily invaded it, hopefully this time we will finally take it for ourselves. We also discovered the Mrrshan, we stole a couple of techs from the Bulrathi, and had them try to attack one of our worlds with a barely armed Colony Ship.

The Galaxy Map, and what we know of the galaxy right now. We can see both friendly and enemy fleets, not to mention the planets. I've covered this before so I'll just note the little grey blobs are the transport fleets we have converging on Galos.

I will comment, however, that we are the largest empire that we know of. Given the available planets, it's marginally possible the Human Empire is as large as us, but not likely. The Psilons can't be, as while I haven't met them, I know they are in contact with the Bulrathi due to observing the Bulrathi being allied with them, and thus know the Psilons have to be...

In this star system. It's the only one in reach of Bulrathi territory unaccounted for.

Sucks to be them, really.

Here I notice it is also now possible for us to get a weapons breakthrough, gaining Ion Cannons, which is neat. A matter for the future, though.

As to the humans...

Sol, the human home system, is either here, in which case they have fairly good odds of having only one system.

Or down here, in which case they probably have two.

Or this star way down here is Sol, in which case, again, they probably have two. It's possible they have four or five, but even with these lower stars the local systems may be beyond their ability to colonize. Regardless, they are distributed throughout this general region, the far left of the map, that I am quite confident of, having seen everywhere else (save the star I am sure is the Psilon home world).

I continue to check up on what all is going on. Down by Zhardan, we see this Bulrathi Colony Ship in retreat, after it attacked, well, Zhardan. You can also see that some of the fleet graphics are facing the reverse of most of them. While fleets in orbit face 'right', fleets in motion face right if they are moving towards the right and left if they are moving left. This can be useful to know, naturally.

This pair of Colony Ships, meanwhile, is heading for Zhardan. I'm not sure what the Bulrathi are thinking, honestly.

Anyways, I select Galos and end the turn. Well, first I send the ships from Rhilus to Galos, skipping taking a screenshot.

We currently outnumber the Darlok defenders, in terms of 'transports en route to Galos', but since they have no factories...

I see no reason to not bomb them and thus make my troops job easier.

Then I notice this incoming Darlok fleet. It existed last turn, but I hadn't really paid attention to it. The Colony Ship isn't a big deal, and we've already seen Venoms, but the King Cobra gives me slight pause, given it's a large ship, and unlike the Colony Ship is an actual proper warship. Theoretically it should be worth about six of our ships, but depending on how it's equipped it might be better or worse than that in practice. There are technologies that the Darloks do not have that could make it much better, but since, well, they don't have them I'm probably fine.

As a result, it's not enough of a concern to do more than send another ship from Rhilus to Galos and end the turn.

Predictably, that fleet arrives to Galos and we go to battle.

I'm somewhat concerned by the King Cobra, as I said, and I notice now that Galos must have built a Venom, since that fleet only had one. Didn't notice while playing, and it's not gonna make a big difference against my fleet of thirty one total ships.

Anyways, since the Colony Ship and Venoms are going upwards, I send my entire fleet that way. The King Cobra will probably take more firepower to put down, but if ignored the Colony Ship and Venoms will contribute damage themselves. I hope to put them down before really engaging the King Cobra at all.

The fleets move to engage...

And then I see the Colony Ship fire missiles (you can just barely see the little missile graphic on it). My Laserships also got smacked by an Ion Cannon beam from range two by the King Cobra, hence the seven missing hitpoints. I missed the screenshot because I wasn't anticipating that. That actually has me less worried about the King Cobra. Heavy beams are less effective for the space while within range, and my ships are fast enough the range element matters less: If we were the same speed as them, they could potential pelt away at us from range two pretty much indefinitely, worst case scenario. But our Laserships are faster, so no big deal there.

Anyways, the Laserships charge up more and smack the Venoms with Lasers.

Killing one. Then I move the Laserboats when they get their turn, and the missile heads for them. So the Colony Ship fired on them, for... some reason. Alrighty, it's probably just nuclear missiles so I'm not hugely concerned about them killing a Laserboat. It's probably a single nuclear missile at that.

In more screenshot failure news, the Colony Ship moved in, and fired an Ion Cannon and missiles at the Laserships. The Venom moved forward and fired it's own Ion Cannon at the Laserships. I fire on the last Venom, finishing it off.

Incidentally, the AI is making tactical mistakes, here. Their Colony Ship should have moved towards the back, relative, so as to prevent my Laserboats from firing on it this turn.

Like so.

Then the King Cobra moves up, and I actually catch its Ion Cannon Beam fire in a screenshot. It has at least two Heavy Ion Cannons, or else it wouldn't be shown firing multiple beams like that. The number of beams, missiles, and so on shown scales in what is not actually one to one, I don't think, but certainly doesn't exceed one to one. The positions are defined by the per ship loadouts; a ship with a single beam per ship will only fire from a single point whether there is one or several thousand, or anywhere in between.

It's a neat touch, and useful to the player for narrowing possibilities.

Here I check my ship specs real quick, to see which ship I should use to finish the Colony Ship. The Laserships are fewer and with less lasers, and the same attack level, so the Laserboats will be more lethal. Ergo, I should use the Laserboats to try to kill the King Cobra, because my Laserboats already did 88 damage to the Colony Ship.

Also visible is the current damage (the number to the right of 'Dam'age) to each of my ship stacks, towards the next vessel's destruction. Both are pretty banged up, but I have ships to spare, thanks to going with medium size ships and not large. Of course, the same damage amount would be pretty trivial for a large, but that isn't the point.

So I derp it and charge the Laserships at the King Cobra, taking standard Ion Cannon fire and catching a screenshot of the damage popping up, which cost me a ship. Whoops. I should have had them hit the Colony Ship and sent the Laserboats off to hit the King Cobra. Oh well.

Anyways, I fire, doing 24 damage as you can see, assuming the explosion isn't obscuring it too much.

Then I have the Laserboats finish the Colony Ship, reversing what I had intended to do. Given I won, not a huge deal, but sloppy of me.

Anyways, the King Cobra proceeds to pelt my Laserships, killing another, and then I have them fire back, catching a screenshot of the damage. 34, if I'm reading it right.

I proceed to finish it off with little difficulty with the Laserboats. I thought I took a screenshot of that, but apparently not.

Then those Colony Ships I pointed out reach Zhardan.

I'm not gonna try to bother with a blow by blow. It's nearly an exact repeat of last time, except there are two.

Several turns of them charging in later, we actually kill one this time. We hit it with more missiles, probably mostly because we have better Battle Computers now.

Speaking of, let's talk about ship accuracy now.

When the attacker's attack is identical to the defenders defense, be it level 0 vs level 0 or level 10 vs level 10, you have a fifty percent chance to hit. Hopefully obviously, missile defense is used against missiles and beam defense against beams. Missile defense is always at least as high, as everything that boosts beam defense also boosts missile defense. Missiles, however, pick up in built targeting computers as you go up the ranks which add a certain number of attack levels to their accuracy over what the ship naturally has, so your missiles are more accurate as you go up in tiers. Eg while Nuclear missiles and Hyper-V Rockets are base accuracy, Hyper X Rockets are one level up over whatever the ship otherwise has.

For each level of attack you are over the enemy ship, you pick up 10% more chance to hit, for 60% if you are up by one, 70% if up by two, and so on. Naturally, that means you always hit if up by five. This also functions in reverse; if the enemy has one more defense than you have attack, you have a 40% chance to hit with that attack.

Actually, I'm oversimplifying a little: The attack rolls a hundred sided die, and if it equals or exceeds a target number you hit. Due to how the target numbers are set, I believe you have a 1% higher chance to hit at each step than I am saying., because I was just listing the target numbers

This caps at a 95 as the target number, which should mean a 6% chance to hit, for any target with an advantage of five or more defense over your attack.

Notably, attack beyond 5 is not useless, because the amount of damage for beam weapons is determined by the roll, and more precisely where it is between the minimum to hit and the maximum of 100, and the target number actively goes negative. If you roll a bare hit, you get the beams' minimum damage, up at 100 you get full damage, with the damage rising in accordance with a higher roll.

What this means is that, for example, if we had five levels of attack advantage, our lasers would always hit, with about a one in four chance of doing 1 damage, and about the same chance for each of 2, 3, and 4. But if we had an attack advantage of ten, we'd do a minimum of 2, and be much more likely to do 3 or 4, because the range for a hit of one would be rolling less than negative 12~. It's not a huge deal, but it does make attack level advantage more consistently useful.

On the topic of this fight itself, the Bulrathi Colony Ships have a defense of 1. Previously, we had an attack level of 2, giving us a 60% chance to hit the Colony Ships. Due to inventing Mark 3 Battle Computers, we now have an attack level of 4, for an 80% chance to hit and an average of a third again more damage as a result.

Anyways, you can just see the warp out effect forming as the Bulrathi flee with their remaining ship.

And then we keep on bombarding Galos, the Darloks fleets' efforts having accomplished pretty much nothing.

And then the main of our ground troops from Rhilus land. We outnumber them and have the same tech. We might win this one.

Indeed, we do, and luckily don't even lose as many troops as the Darloks had, in spite of the defender advantage.

And then the fleet production screen, because at last the battles of the year 2381 are over.

Now that we have Galos, I redirect both Nordia and Zhardan's new ships to Galos. I also, as can be partly seen here, send a couple million people from both Nordia and Zhardan to Galos to shore up the numbers a bit more.

Since Galos has our ships in orbit, we can see that here. Nice to have taken it. Note the lack of factories.

With no factories and 18 people, Galos is producing 12 production before maintenance costs. This surprises me, because I was under the impression that pop units produced in multiples of .5 BCs, but apparently not. The manual says that your colonists start at .5 BC per head and scale up with Planetology tech level, capping at 2 BC per head once you have 50 or more Planetology tech level.

So as it turns out, Planetology tech level of 7 is enough to get about 2/3rds of a production point per citizen. I expected to be teaching, but due to paying closer attention than usual for the sake of explaining, well, I'm also learning.

Anyways, the Darloks have a pretty substantial number of Colony Transports coming from Nazin, it looks like, and heading for Galos. Given my fleet in orbit, they are unlikely to make it planetside, though.

Next in the war, I wish to turn my sights on Centauri...

However, it likely has a missile base. If not several. Given my current ship models are laser based, that's a recipe for heavy casualties, or even a complete inability to breach its defenses. More than that, spending time building up Galos first is likely the better way to get the advantage for now.

I've covered previously that Missile Bases and planets in general take half damage from beams and torpedoes, before shields. As I recall, that rounds down. And then each Missile Base has fifty hit points. This is going to tend to pan out to needing to fire hundred of lasers to kill each missile base, while they bombard us with deadly volleys of missiles. And I fully expect somewhere around five to ten missile bases on Centauri. More than that, even once we pierce the defenses, we'd probably need to send off half-ish of our entire empire's population to have adequate odds of taking the planet.

Meanwhile, they would be perfectly able to build replacement Missile Bases or send in fleets. And if they have Class 2 Deflector Shields, they will be flatly immune to lasers.  We would need bomb ships, or large numbers of missile ships, and of course the Darloks are allowed to fire on our bombers with fleets and warships alike, should we build such. It will likely be my next target, but it's simply not practical to go for it immediately. We need to build populace back up, build up Galos, and get a war fleet able to realistically take down a larger number of missile bases, without leaving our empire open to other invasions.

This will take time.

I proceed to check on our spy efforts. The Darloks have been pretty consistently catching our spies, indeed we haven't had a report in a few game years, but while I consider ceasing spy efforts on them I decide against it in the end.

The others don't have any new techs so I just leave my spies to it for now, and skip taking screenshots of their spy report screens. There's no point with nothing new to talk about, and I'm trying to not put up an excessive number of screenshots.

So I end the turn.

And another turn.

And the turn after that. Turns in Master of Orion can go quite fast even in the late game. There's genuinely not much for me to attend to each turn right now. I'll probably just summarize any future such multi turn skips for at least the rest of this update, but I felt the effect was appropriate.

So with this new turn, we finish Personal Deflector Shields. That'll help in any future ground fights, though in the short term it's not so handy. Still, none of the techs close to a breakthrough is an industrial sort of tech, so that's fine.

Our only available tech is Class 4 Deflector Shields. The game has a fondness for Roman numerals, though it's not entirely consistent about doing it. Force Fields is somewhat of an empty tech sphere, especially early on. We keep having only one option, but this is the first time we have skipped anything. Each tech level has no more than one tech at it per field (with one special exception I'll address later), and techs extend out to tech level 50. Going by field and checking the manual, Computers has a total of 32 techs, Construction 25, Planetology a total of 30, Propulsion a total of 28, Weapons a total of 48, and Force Fields a total of 24.

In other words, Force Fields has the least techs, and is additionally heavily weighted towards the late game. Unsurprisingly, the first tech we don't have in our research list this run in terms of force fields is Class 3 Deflector Shields, which, well, are the middle step between Class 2 and Class 4. Otherwise, we missed out on Class V Planetary Shields, which is... Not a tech I am happy to skip.

If I understand the manual correctly, Class V Planetary Shields cost 500 BC to build on each planet (it says Planetary Shields cost 100 BC per class of shield. So I assume it mans that since they are class 5, they'd cost five hundred, but it's possible it means they cost one hundred what with being the first tech), and I know for sure they add that five to the class of shield of any Missile Bases on the planet. So our Missile Bases would rocket up to Class seven shields with a Planetary Shield up, and since planetary atmospheres halve beam damage, that'd basically render them straight up immune to every non-bomb weapon in circulation among our enemies right now. Not only that, but the Planetary Shield can't be destroyed and continues to protect the planet from any orbital bombardment even if the Missile Bases are gone, so our planets would be functionally immune to bombardment from things like Ion Cannons and Nuclear Missiles in general.

What I'm saying is they make Planets way more secure for way less resources than big war fleets and the like.

Now it's not a huge deal, since we have the most planets and our Meklar industrial advantage, so we shouldn't be backed into defense too often in the future anyways. But it's still probably the single most important of early techs. The things that are competition for the title in my book, such as Nuclear Engines, have more advanced forms relatively accessible- Nuclear Engines is placed at tech six, Sub-Light Drives at tech 12. By contrast, the first two Planetary Shields are at tech 12 and 22, for a significant delay if you miss the first.

Anyways, same turn, and that transport fleet arrived at Galos, only for us to massacre them with our lasers. As I expected.

And then the Mrrshan contact us. I'm not sure if I have commented on the catgirl detail. It's been awhile since I've played them, so I can't recall whether it's just the diplomat that is specifically a catgirl, or also the other types you get. Regardless...

They want to trade with me. I figure, what the hell, if it buys me a few turns of peace with them that's worth the marginal cost involved. As I explained previously, trade starts off bleeding us for cash, only to later turn profitable. And if we wind up at war with them, trade, naturally, ends. But I hope to put off war with the Mrrshan until I finish mopping the floor with the Darloks at the least, and the AI likes trading with you.

I spot a new (or at least previously unseen) model of Bulrathi ship, the Sentinel. It's a medium, and they also have one in orbit of Ursa as well as this batch floating about here. No clue what they are armed with per se, but new ships are worth noting as likely to be more technologically advanced than old ships. The big exception is that the AI cheats and updates their Colony Ship design without ever actually removing the old one.

I suspect this is basically for technical reasons, because the AI also never designs secondary Colony Ship designs.

I also see this completely silly fleet of three Darlok Colony Ships. There's also one in orbit of Centauri, as I recall.

Anyways, enough gawking. We don't really have anything to do, so end another turn, and...

Attack the Psilons. So, yes, I was correct about the location of their homeworld.

Mentar, the Psilon home world has a whopping nine missile bases, and you can, if you look closely, see two missile graphics from it firing missiles. This is because with nine missile bases, it is firing a ton more missiles than any ship or planet thus far.

They also have three of these large Star Blade ships. No clue on armament.

And four (armed) Colony Ships. No smaller ship classes present.

Since we have encountered the Psilons, if not formally made contact, allow me to cover their advantages. Firstly, they are 'good' in every single tech field, which is kind of absurd, to be honest. As a result they take only 80% as many RPs to finish any tech whatsoever. Moreover, they produce 50% more research points than normal, for the same industry, which combined with the cheap research actually pans out to researching almost twice as fast. Should be exactly 87.5% faster, if my math is right. Of course, because they do not have any baseline production increases, those figures are somewhat misleading compared to eg the Meklars. For the same production points, it'll be 87.5% faster, yes, but we can have hundreds more production from building piles more factories. They'll tend to research faster than us, but not as much faster as that suggests.

Lastly, they have a minor thematic point; each species has a default relationship to each other species. For the Darloks, that's almost always Unease, with a single exception, as a form of disadvantage, with no one inclined to play nice with them. The game naturally gravitates back towards these starting points; if we are above the starting value, the AI's opinion of us will naturally lower until it hits the starting value, barring active effort to make them like us, and if we are below it, they will naturally increase unless we keep finding new ways to piss them off. For the Psilons, with the exception of the Darloks and one other faction, their starting relationships are always Neutral, because supposedly of being all dispassionate and logical.

Meklars are also heavily weighted towards neutrality, but not so strictly. In general, neutral is normal, but there are variations for, so far as I can tell, thematic reasons, aside the Psilons, Darloks, and one other species.

Anyways, enough talking, we retreat. We can still make use of our scout, and of course it has no hope of winning any fight, let alone this.

And then our scientists finish inventing those Ion Cannons the Darloks already had. I had hoped to steal them, but this works fine as well.

Merculite Missiles are the only new option. Faster, more accurate, and harder hitting than all prior models. They are quite nice, but for nearly 6000 RP... well.

I'd rather get Gatling Lasers. It seems, thus far, that no one else has them, and until shields become significantly more prominent, they are a very solid choice of beam weapons. They are basically four lasers apiece, while Lasers are a size of ten and a power of twenty five, Gatling Lasers are a size of twenty and a power of seventy. That's slightly misleading, due to miniaturization, but in practice Gatling Lasers will be somewhere under three times the space for, well, four times the fire power. Very nice in the early game, and a relatively cheap research to bulk up our weapons tech level a little bit.

Anyways, with that the research and war are both done and the main part of Year 2385 begins.

... starting with Vigaroe hitting its pop limit and automatically dumping everything into research.

I decide to go ahead and get it started on a second missile base. Don't want more than two missile bases, but Vigaroe is my most established planet. I don't want it to be an easy target.

Anyways, I immediately send our lone scout from Mentar to allll the way out here. That'll be awhile, but I'd like to try to locate the humans if I can without designing new scouting ships or the like.

Anyways, we have some nice new tech like those Ion Cannons, so I look to see if we are close to any other important breakthroughs. We are. Duralloy Armor is a significant and cheap improvement to overall ship quality, and so I decide to put off designing a new ship until we have it.

End the turn...

And I get sabotaged. By an Unknown Spy. Let's face it, it's probably the Darloks. Four of our factories isn't a huge deal, but this does mean we have spies in our midst. Well, between one and four from a single empire. See, Sabotage has three options, Sabotage Missile Bases (to destroy missiles bases), and Sabotage Factories (to destroy factories), as well as Incite Rebelion, which is particularly nasty but a bit complex. I'll talk about it if it comes up. Regardless, the effectiveness of Sabotage actions scale to the number of spies from the empire doing the Sabotage in our empire and the level of Weapons tech that empire has. For every 10 levels of weapons technology, each spy will destroy anywhere from 1-5 factories.

This could, therefore, be a particularly lucky lone spy or some especially unlucky squad of four. Regardless, nothing to do but hit continue...

And have the Bulrathi decide they want a chat.

Peace, you say? Sure, you guys suck at spying and I want to break the Darloks who decidedly don't suck at spying before actually fighting you.

Anyways, I notice that we are out of spies in the Bulrathi and Darlok Empires right now, and decide to write off spying on the Darloks for now. It burns resources and they are really good at internal security. Conversely, with spies in my empire, I commit a full five percent of my planetary resources to overall security. Internal security is one of the more interesting mechanics.

See, it improves our, well, security checks to put resources into it... by a flat 2% per 1% of our resources we put into it. By contrast, spy networks cost specific amounts of resources; To build a spy network (I keep calling them spies, but it's technically spy networks) costs 25 BC plus '2 per level of Computer Technology', which I believe refers to our own level of Computer Tech but might reference the empire we are trying to infiltrate, the manual is a bit imprecise in language there. Each further spy network in the same empire costs twice as much as the last, not counting any spies that get caught. So we'd pay somewhere around 35-45 BC to build a spy network in the Bulrathi or Darlok empires right now, while to get a second in the Mrrshan empire would require in the 70-90 range. The Darloks, being spymaster people, get spy networks at half the normal price.

Point is, though, that we get an increased ability to pour resources into offensive spywork as we grow more productive... but defensively it's a stable sink, scaling directly to our total economy. It's a nice way to help smaller empires spy on larger.

Regardless, what internal security does is thus: Each year, we roll a one hundred sided die (the game loves to do that, as you might have noticed) for each spy network in our empire. You add your internal security value, and if your computer tech level is higher than the opposing empire, you also add the difference between the two to the roll. The Darloks also add +20 to the roll gratis, which is part of why we keep failing. Anyways, that roll determines what happens to the spies. A point I usually don't care about but will mention because the table is confusing otherwise is that if spies are hiding, the result of the security roll is reduced by 30. Not very helpful, because it means your spies aren't doing anything.

Anyways, if the final number is 0 or less, we get a case of mistaken identity, and the spy goes undiscovered, potentially causing us to think someone else is infiltrating us, and not the actual owner of the spy. If the final number is anywhere from 1 to 30, the spy goes undiscovered, and if the number is between 31 and 50, we discover the spy but they get to act anyways. From 51-70, the spy is stopped, but escapes to keep spying on us, and from 71 to 99, the spy is caught and killed. If we get a final number of 100 or more, the spy is not only caught and killed, but all other spies from that empire are barred action, because the spy confessed, even if they succeed at evading our security.

On that note, part of why I don't find hide very useful is that informing your enemy that someone has spies in their empire is just as good a reason to ratchet up internal security as specifically telling them you, personally do.

While we are on the topic, if no spies from a given empire confess, then each spy network that wasn't caught at all gets to make a single roll of a d100 themselves. If they have the computer tech advantage, the difference is added to the roll to check for success, and if they are Darlok spies, an extra thirty points are slapped on, sheesh. A result of 85 or higher is a successful operation of whatever kind they are doing, and a roll of 100 or higher is not only successful, it means you frame another race for your actions (of your choice, to a point.)

If you are doing espionage, even more dice rolling is done, but the gist of it is that you don't get to steal more than one tech a turn, and you are more likely to get lower level techs.

All this stuff put together is why I keep a constant low level spying effort up. Spying faces serious diminishing returns as you slap more in, especially espionage, and the anti spywork option is actively better at stopping your spies as their number increases. due to the fact that you have a really high chance of forcing a confession per spy if you have heavy investment internal security at any given moment. Against a non-Darlok tech peer with our spies not hiding, at maximum security investment they get a full +50 to their security checks, meaning they are straight up guaranteed to stop every single spy, and even at lower investments as you start picking up something like a 10-20% chance of forcing each given spy to confess, the odds of at least one confession a turn approach certainty if you are flooding the enemy with spies. Spies are a scalpel, not a sledgehammer, and trying to use them as the latter is doomed to failure.

Enough about spy mechanics, we have factories to rebuild on Nordia. I tell Nordia to put a little effort in industry (ignoring the 'waste' on ecological effort that tells me I'm not putting enough effort in. The game auto-corrects it, so I can't be bothered), and end the turn

In the process of auto-correction, Nordia starts doing tech work. A very small amount, but I don't actually want it doing it. Not terribly important, admittedly. The game tends to default to tech as the safe choice when ecology work is done.

Anyways, I push Vigaroe back to all in on research now that it has two missile bases.

I check on our Galos fleet, and note that we now have more Laserships than Laserboats. So I decide to scrap the older Laserboats.

... I completely failed to pay attention to how much we were spending on maintenance before then. Oh well. I also scrapped the starting Fighter small ship design, we can almost certainly make better by now, so I have no reason to use them.

I end the turn...

And Nordia finishes replacing those factories. Back to being nothing but a shipyard.

End the turn...

And start the next. Only there's nothing interesting to do, so I end it again.

I'll be trying to remember to take screenshots of the fleet production screen over the end turn one going forward, because the year number makes it clearer what's going on.

I check on what tech I can now steal, and the Bulrathi now have ECM Jammers Mark 2, which will be nice to have.

Nobody else seems to have anything new. I cancel security spending for now, hoping I have flushed out the spies.

Then I end the turn again.

And our scientists finish inventing Duralloy Armor.

We could have taken Improved Industrial Tech 8 back when we went for Duralloy Armor, though I neglected to take a screenshot of its description.

Improved Industrial Tech 7 is the next step up. It's the same thing, but even cheaper factories, shock.

Reduced Industrial Waste 60% is the next tier of Reduced Industrial Waste tech. It'd be nice to have, but at this point I'd like to speed up how quick I get my worlds up to speed, so I go for Improved Industrial Tech 7 for now.

Research management done, we get another Galactic News Network report. This time, it's not just rankings, it's...

Oh boy! Plague. Plague is an awful random event to be struck by, and Zhardan is, in fact, one of our worlds.

There are several different random events that can occur, some targeting planets and some empires per se. Most of them are bad, some are good. Plague is one of the ones I particularly dislike, though not the worst possible one. All such events, whether they affect you or another player, are announced by the Galactic News Network.

The manual is a bit light on specifics in describing several of them, including Plague, unfortunately. I'll get back to that in a minute.

News over with, the turn proper starts.

First thing I do is check on my tech again. Gatling Lasers should be done shortly, so I once again put off designing a more advanced ship. Note that research number, though- 315 BC of research a turn.

So back to the topic of Plague. Plague does two to four things, depending on how you look at it.

Firstly, the planet suffers population loss from the virulent plague every turn until you cure it.

Secondly, you cannot use the transport function on worlds under the effects of Plague.

Lastly, we have to research a cure to end the Plague. This is done by having the planet produce research points. Only that planet can contribute to it, and all such research goes to the cure. I'm not sure what determines research requirements and death rates, as the manual doesn't cover those details.


We set Zhardan to full research mode, and hope they fix it soon.

And this is why I said to remember our research value- it hasn't gone up. The research effort on a plague planet only goes to the cure. So basically Plague puts one of our worlds into a state of steadily decaying and being worthless for a few turns if we try to address that. I say whether it does two to four things depends on how you look at it, because it does cut off any research from the planet as consequence, but it's debatable as to whether it is a direct effect of the plague, as well as the mechanic of curing the plague in the first place being debatable as an effect of the plague. It's annoying, but not the worst of the events.

Anyways, I look around to see if there's anything else to worry about, and there kinda is. This relatively large Mrrshan fleet is moving to Fierias. Now, they could just be worried we'll invade them, but it could also be that they intend to invade us. Still, my Nuclear Engines will make it easy to react in time.

Finally got a screenshot of this; every time we get a Galactic News Network Report, we get a little logo forming animation that ends in this, before switching over to the reporter.

Who, this time, reports on the horrific casualties we took to the plague and how far away from the cure we are. 1129 research points isn't so bad, but it's not thrilling either when I lost 6 million colonists in a single turn.

Given we have already lost six million people, Vigaroe is full, and we're only gonna lose more before this is done, I send ten million from Vigaroe to Zhardan. I can't imagine what the people are thinking as I send them from our cushy home world to a plague ravaged arid world.

Regardless, part of why I'm doing it is research will only slow down as the plague takes its toll, making it take longer to cure if we ignore that point, due to the world getting less productive with less people and yadda.

On a more optimistic note, I shift Rhilus to do some terraforming.

That's it for this turn, so I end the turn.

Nothing interesting happens this time.

I look around and spot this new model of Bulrathi Large ship, the Claw, presumably armed with the latest Bulrathi technologies. Like Ion Cannons or Hyper-V Rockets.

Also, that Mrrshan fleet I pointed out is parked at Fierias.

I check on our reports on our neighbors. Only news is the Bulrathi are currently allied with both the Darloks and the Psilons.

Then I check on the research. We are on the verge of getting both Gatling Lasers and Improved Terraforming +20 now.

I end the turn...

And my spies bring me gifts! How nice. Well, the construction tech is just Improved Industrial Tech 9, which I am researching a more advanced form of, and while the Computer tech is nothing special...

It is Computer tech. Sure, I'm probably not gonna use it per se any time soon, but it is a boost to our Computer tech rating, which of course means we will be slightly more able to succeed at spying in the future and more resistant to enemy spywork, too.

Moving on...

The Bulrathi noticed and took offense. Darn. They declared war on me again. I sorta don't care, really, but still.

Anyways this is the Planets screen, which I haven't shown off before. We can see here population numbers, growth compared to last turn, presence of planetary shields (which we still lack, that's the SHD lising in case it isn't obvious), number of factories and missile bases, which if any ship each world is building (that's the Space Dock), amount of industrial waste (the WST section) and any special notes, like the Plague Zhardan is being ravaged by.

We can also see our total empire wide production, as well as the percentage of that production we are burning on ship maintenance, missile base maintenance, spies, and internal security, as well as the fact that we are currently losing 4 BC on trade.

Lastly, we can see and use the planetary reserve here

The slider above 'reserve' would allow us to 'tax' our worlds, transferring some of their production to the Planetary Reserve. The number beside the slider notes how much we are adding to the reserve each turn, and the number beside reserve itself is the total in the reserve right now.

By clicking transfer, our mouse changes to an arrow with the word 'to' beside it. If we select a world to transfer the reserve to...

We get this box, including a slider to select how much to transfer. I dump it all in.

Now, what does that do? Why, it increases the production at that world, to a maximum of double its natural value. That's before expense, including waste removal.

The Planetary Reserve is, in short, a way to transfer production between worlds. Zhardan will have increased production until it has burned through the 894 BC we dumped on it. So this turn it has gone from 259 production to 518, which will burn 259 of that 894, leaving 635 reserve points applied to it. The next couple of turns it should remain doubled, and then on the third turn there should be 120~ left, partly depending on how the population does throughout those turns and therefore what its base production before reserve boosting is each turn.

Now, you may be wondering why this fantastically useful feature is one I don't use much? Well, the first issue is efficiency. In a word, it isn't. It takes two BC of labor to create one BC of Reserve labor, and research effort and ship production in particular are pretty easy to spread about your empire. In principle it can be useful to rush missile bases and new defense ships and the like, but I tend to save the stuff getting stuffed into the reserves for dire emergencies, so I can do stuff like I just did of stuffing Zhardan full of reserve BCs to fix the Plague sooner.

Though I must admit I was actually opening the planets screen just to show it off, as well as the status of our empire. This screen is quite useful as your empire grows larger and more unwieldy. While in a small Galaxy, you are unlikely to direly need it, as small Galaxies have only 24 star systems, larger galaxy sizes can have up to 108 star systems. With five planets under our control, we control over a fifth of the Galaxy as is, but with a larger Galaxy that same count could be less than a twentieth of the galaxy, potentially being outclassed by every other empire. Naturally, that makes tools like this screen grow more important.

But back to the reserve. Forgetting the reserve exists is another factor in why I don't use it all that often. I almost failed entirely to use it in this crisis.

Anyways, having allocated the reserve to Zhardan, I push the ratio to favor tech, as the same percent in ecology would have been excessive to keep the waste under control. In this way, we go from 180~ tech a few turns back to breaking 360 tech produced here each turn, even though we are down ten colonists and the productivity of the factories they attended to, to boot.

I then push Galos to start its own Terraforming at last.

Then I end the turn.

Year 2396 has nothing interesting happen.

So I end the turn again.

And our scientists finish Improved Terraforming +20. Excellent.

I go with boosting the terraforming ratio here, and wait eagerly to see our new Planetology options.

Except oh wait we turn out to have finished Gatling Lasers. Neat. So I'll be picking two new techs.

Two old options, plus we could now take Improved Terraforming +30. It would not only increase the degree to which we could terraform planets by another 10, but it would also reduce the cost of doing terraforming in general by 1 BC. Which is a full twenty percent cheaper. It's quite nice, but...

I know of two different tundra worlds, making Controlled Tundra Environment a higher priority in my mind. Doubly so because I'm pretty sure I'd gain access to a good sized Jungle world by taking one of them. So I go with it.

No new weapons options, so I go for Merculite Missiles. They are my most advanced option, helping push me to new tech and greater weapons capability in general faster than the others, but also they would be a nice spike to my missile bases firepower and general effectiveness.

Anyways, the auto-redistribution of points puts some in tech sometimes. Really, really small amounts. Not sure why.

I picked an odd screenshot here, or maybe missed the next. What this one is actually about is me reducing ecological spending in favor of more tech, as I recall. Because it getting pop boost means it is more than completing its terraforming work this turn, and I'd rather keep my research up.

And then I ping-ponged back to Rhilus and raised its ecological ratio a bit. Perhaps silly of me, but I don't really want it doing that tiny research amount.

Then I get Nordia adjusted a little back towards ships. Trying to keep a good military production line going.

Same basic deal here. Push it back towards research over ecology, to cure the Plague.

I check on our tech, and see I'm close to getting... Well, a propulsion tech I really want. So I decide to put off a new ship design again, until we have Inertial Stabilizers.

I end the turn, and...

'Bulrathi' spies destroy some of our factories. Dangit. It could be actual Bulrathi spies... But Darloks are really good at impersonating other factions at spy work, so I kinda suspect it is actually them. Regardless.

Then we receive a new GNN Report...

Ah, excellent.

With Zhardan no longer suffering from Plague, I no longer want it doing heavy research work.

Instead, I flip it back to shipyard work, and emphasize industry in particular. It needs forty more factories, since we increased the maximum population by ten.

End another turn...

And it's the year 2399 now.

I go to check on Propulsion, and see we can now get a breakthrough. Excellent.

This seems like a good place to end this update, and so I shall. Having finished fighting off the terrible plague, and on the verge of creating a far more powerful ship design, as soon as I get Inertial Stabilizers, next time we will likely proceed to design one, or even two new ship designs and prepare to take the Darlok world of Centauri. Because the Darloks make terrible neighbors, what with the spy thing.


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