Let's Play Master of Orion Classic Part 5: Meklars Part 5

Welcome back. When last we left off, we had invented the cure for a deadly plague ravaging Zhardan. This time, I plan to conquer Centauri, or at least begin preparations for such.

Strap in, this is a long update.

To start this update off, have a screenshot of the known galaxy. I set it to environment view, because hopefully by now you know who is who. If you don't, well. Yellow is the Bulrathi, red is the Mrrshan, green is the Darloks, and white/grey is us, the Meklars.

Last update, I ended at the start of this turn. So I do some housekeeping, and get Rhilus building more factories now that it has finished terraforming.

And the same basic deal for Vigaroe.

I could maybe eliminate the artificial pop growth for more factories, but...

This is just one click down on eco/up on industry. Not catastrophic or anything, but I don't prefer to set things up to generate waste so I go back to the slight plus pop value distribution.

Anyways, I look around and...

Spot a bit of a brewing fleet in orbit of Centauri. Likely not a match for...

Our Galos fleet, but then I believe he has missile bases and he continues to reinforce it.

End the turn, and...

The year 2400 begins unceremoniously enough.

Zhardan finishes its factory work, and I switch it back to full on production.

Galos, I push towards Industry work, as the terraforming is complete. For our current techs, anyways.

And then I note that the Mrrshan war fleet is leaving Fierias, deeper into Mrrshan territory. I think they might have scrapped a large design- last I looked, they had a large 'sabretooth' ship design with this fleet, and even had it parted ways, I ought to be aware of its position.

I check on our scout, chugging along slowly, but now only 4 turns out from its destination.

And then I end my turn.

And our scientists finish Inertial Stabilizers. Excellent.

Both of these are old options. Given the relative lack of need for more travel range, vs the general value gained by acquiring better engines, my choice is obvious; Sub-Light Drives.

And then the turn begins, with the completion of the last Laserships we shall ever build.

So now that we have Inertial Stabilizers, it is finally time to update our military. The Laserships have served us well this past decade, but as you can see, they are pretty obsolete- I mentioned previously that the game remembers your prior design screen work, so this is straight up the Lasership design, which now has tons of unused space and costs less- they cost around 112 when we first finished the design.

I don't believe I've covered miniaturization in detail before. For every ten tech levels in the field of a system or weapon over that devices 'base' tech level, it costs 50% less and uses 25% less space, except for weapons they use 50% less space instead. That's relative to the last such check point of ten, so eg 20 levels up is a 75% cost discount and 30 levels a 87.5% discount. This applies every point of tech up you go, there's not actually specific checkpoints or anything, though I am not sure exactly how much benefit a single point is. Just that it does pan out to those values every ten points. So as technology advances, the same ship designs get cheaper, as well as you being more able to shove stuff into your ships.

Anyways, I strip the design down with the clear button and then go to work.

My first thought is to drop to small size, to take maximum advantage of our new Inertial Stabilizers. Obviously, I want Duralloy armor. On a small, it's only one more HP, due to rounding down, but it's pretty cheap.

Then Nuclear Engines, of course...

And Class 2 Manueverability. It's really, really cheap for small ships overall.

And at last, the Inertial Stabilizers, which are also pretty chump change on a small design.

But then I go to check our weapons and see this design could only mount a single laser or a single nuclear bomb, and I want to take advantage of our better weaponry.

So I switch over to a medium size ship. We could mount four Ion Cannons...

But if we drop one we can shove in a mark 3 battle computer, which will tend to contribute a lot more damage than a fourth Ion Cannon, due to how much it will spike the damage each Ion Cannon will tend to do by hitting more often. So I finalize the design of our new Ionstorm class ships.

Out with the old...

And in with the new.

I also switch Zhardan to the newer model.

Oddly, the Laserships are listed here with a cost of 96 BC, when designing the same model was marked as 87 BC. Regardless, note that our new ship model costs 19 more BC, which is right about 20% more than our old Laserships. Meanwhile, Ion Cannons are more than double the damage, and combat speed is up 1, health is up by 50%, and attack level and defense are up by two. We did ditch the shields, but this is a huge step up and the lack of shields will largely be made up for by the increased defense.

More than made up for, probably, given the degree of dodginess that'd be. Defense of five is quite high for this tech, the best attack level we could offer ourselves is four, and only the Mrrshan could exceed that, due to their bonus. Even for them, our new ships would dodge at least twenty percent of attacks that would hit Laserships, and given Ion Cannons are a common sight among our current enemies, two points off each hit is unlikely to exceed that plus the extra health in value.

What I'm saying is these are worth way more than 1.2 Laserships a head.

Anyways, that done, I start attempting to spy on the Darloks again, if only to get a report on any tech advances they made while I wasn't looking.

Then I note that the Mrrshan have invented Neutron Blasters.

Neutron Blasters are the next step in standard beam types. Like Ion Cannons and Lasers before them, they come in a light, range one beam, the Neutron Blaster, which does 3-12 to the Ion Cannon's 3-8, and a heavier, range two weapon, the Heavy Blast Cannon, which does 3-24 to the Heavy Ion Cannon's 3-15. Something else to covet, from their weapons tech, albeit not a tech that is overly worrisome to face or something I urgently need. It does reinforce my desire to acquire Planetary Shields somehow, though.

The Bulrathi are down to one tech we lack, at this point. Still would be nice to steal.

Meanwhile, the Darloks have three, and we haven't seen anything from them in 17 years in terms of reports, hence why I want a fresh report. They could easily have several new techs by now, at the least one in each field.

Anyways, then I notice this Darlok Fleet heading for Galos, or maaaybe Rhilus.

So I put Galos to the defense spending it needs to have a missile base in two turns.

And do the same for Rhilus.

And I order my few Laserships at Rhilus to join the main fleet at Galos. Sure, it leaves Rhilus defenseless, but my ships are simply faster than my neighbors. If something heads for Rhilus, I can reroute the fleet and beat it there.

Then I check the Status screen for the first time in quite awhile. We are ahead of the pack in every area. Not surprising to me, honestly.

Anyways, I end the turn, bringing us to the year 2402. Which has nothing to do, frankly.

End turn again...

And the Darloks invade Galos. Poor Darloks.

Our missile base finished in time and we outnumber them rather severely. Quality is a factor, but...

With the Missile Base's Battle Scanner, we check out their loadouts. The Colony Ships are frankly sad as combatants, a proper Large ship might threaten Galos but a single Ion Cannon and Nuclear Missile won't cut it.

The Venoms aren't terrible, but our Laserships are better in every way but armament, where they are worse, and armor, where they are equal. Our Laserships would have a 40% chance to hit per shot, while the Venoms would have a mere 20% chance to hit. While they would do 1-6 damage through our two shield where we would do only 0-3... Well, that's about half while hitting twice as often (strictly we'd average 1.5 and them 3.5 per beam, but while that is a slight advantage to them, it's not a huge one). And we have the Initiative advantage over them, letting us strike first. At even numbers of ships, they might be favored to win. With a giant pile on our side, not so much.

Anyways, our Missile Base, meanwhile, would take no more than 2 damage per Ion Cannon, which would have a lowly 40% hit chance and have a large part of that range be completely eliminated in practice by planetary atmosphere plus shields. I believe I've said this before, but beam weapons vs planets do half damage, rounding down, so fully half their hits would be reduced straight to 0, leaving them with only 20% doing anything.

While it won't kill the Venoms exceptionally fast itself, it has range over them, and should hit with 70% of it's missiles, basically killing one Venom per two volleys on average.

Anyways, I have Galos fire missiles at the Venoms, and move our Laserships forward, and then the Darloks approach themselves. Then it's back to Galos' turn.

So I fire more missiles and move the Laserships up again. If I recall correctly, this is a screenshot of our missiles striking the Venoms in motion, but it's a little confusing. Missiles can hit ships that are currently in between spaces, due to the way they move in response to movement.

And as you can see, the Venoms have been struck by a couple of missiles by now, down ten hit points. (the number on the left of the / is current HP, the number on the right maximum, of whatever unit is being listed, which will be whatever you have your mouse hovering hover unless it's over empty space in which case it will be whatever is selected)

 You can also see that the Colony Ships are thus far unharmed. Let's fix that.

I charge my Laserships in and get smacked by Ion Cannons for six damage. You can also see a Darlok missile that curved up towards my ships to follow, now facing 'north'. Missiles face the direction they are moving, in general.

Anyways, with the Darloks having failed to kill even one ship, I retaliate for what looks like 259 damage in that massive explosion from all the lasers ripping into them, killing two Colony Ships instantly.

This is why you don't pretend your Colony Ships are warships.

Things cycle through turns again coming back around to the Laserships, and at this point I've lost one Lasership and 17 HP from the next. Meanwhile, I've killed one Venom and half the Colony Ships. Let's keep at it, then.

I missed the screenshot of my own fire, but the results are obvious, with another seven Venoms dead. They manage to kill one Lasership their turn, but, well. The outcome is no longer in doubt, if it ever was.

And the Venoms lose another to my missiles right after, if I'm not mistaken.

The Colony Ships move away, in a manner that leads me to believe they are retreating. So my ships pursue, taking Ion Cannon fire for their trouble, and...

Blow the remaining ships away. I can't tell for sure how much damage I did through the explosion graphic, but it sorta doesn't matter anyways, since you don't get overkill damage listed. If we rolled say 300+ the fact that they don't have that many hit points left would prevent the game from listing that much damage.

The Venoms also move to flee, as I keep pelting missiles at them, and...

I have the Laserships roll up and effortlessly blow them away.

Battle over, casualties on my side: 2 ships.

Really, this was dumb of the Darloks, but smart options are in short supply for them as my degree of advantage over my neighbors has been growing.

The year begins proper.

Offscreen, I turn off defense spending at Galos and Rhilus again, but otherwise the turn has not much to note, so I end the turn, and...

Our little scout finally reaches this star system, Draconis.

And then another year start, of course. You can see here what I already mentioned, that I switched Galos (and also Rhilus) back to focusing on factories.

By chance, Vigaroe hits its new factory limit. It dumped the spare points into research, which is what I wanted anyways, so I just click through the announcement.

I'd kinda like to send my scout way up here, but it can't actually reach that far, so...

I send it down here instead.

And having found another highly habitable world in my extended fuel cell range, I decide to look into something.

That something being this. I can design reserve fuel tank Colony Ships, with Nuclear Engines, and have room to spare. So I do. Not even all that expensive to build, even.

This calls for a bit of a change of plans. I still intend to take Centauri at some point, but with my new Colony Ship model I can take two rather large worlds that I know of, uncontested. More industry in the empire is good. Overall, it'll be cheaper and more effective of a way to push up my empire's strength in the galaxy.

So I have Vigaroe put some work into building a Colony Ship, good to complete in four years, which I'll use to take Draconis...

And I have Zhardan switch fron Ionstorms to building a Colony Ship itself.

Then I change its relocate target from Galos to Rhilus, as I intend to take the Jungle world of Esper in the southeast quadrant with this ship.

Pass a turn...

And another. More than a little surprised to have a Colony Ship already, given the prediction was three turns for the faster, but I won't complain about ships being ready faster than expected.

In preparation for taking Esper, I send all my Laserships down this way, so they'll be able to guard it, in case anyone else leapfrogs over there somehow.

I skipped taking a screenshot of it, but I switched Zhardan back to Ionstorms and switched its relocate order target back to Galos.

And then I end my turn.

And steal even more Bulrathi tech. No options but the one, so, yoink.

That'll help get Rhilus, Galos, Draconis, and Esper online as worlds that bit faster.

Turn start. I click through, and...

Nordia hits its industry maximum. It auto allocates to research, which makes sense in that research can be done well from any world, and does not care about position. There are no bad research worlds, unlike with shipbuilding, and unlike ships and especially defenses, it doesn't matter which world in particular is doing it. With ships, after all, the ships appear where they are built, so you tend to want whatever worlds are your frontline worlds doing it, and more than that you pay maintenance on ships, so building more ships isn't automatically good in the way advancing technology is.

Don't get me wrong, you need ships to fight a war, but as a default response by the game research makes more sense.

But I still want it as a dedicated ship yard, so I push it over to full ship construction.

With the last Bulrathi tech stolen, I stop sending new spies over, and put our surviving spy to hide. It can be a little hard to tell which order block the spies are currently on, they are sorta lit up brighter, but not super obviously so.

I've said hide isn't very useful, and it isn't, but this is kinda the situation for it. I don't feel an urgent need to have them sabotage the Bulrathi, and they can't do crap in terms of espionage with the Bulrathi out of tech, so I put them to hide to try to get them to last longer, so as to get new reports for longer so I can hopefully find out about new tech without having to build a new spy network just to check. Spy networks cost resources, so that's not just saving me some player effort, it saves me actual mechanical resources.

I end the turn, and...

Find the high quality Terran world of Primodius over by Draconis, also unoccupied by any other empire. Guess I'll be building three Colony Ships, in all.

These three new systems have higher pop limits than Zhardan, Rhilus, and Nordia, albeit lower than Vigaroe and Galos. Point is, though, we're already the biggest empire in the galaxy, but once we colonize and grow into these worlds, we'll be well over half again larger. We're closing in on end game, given that.

Second Colony Ship ready, too.

I'd like to have my scout check out the yellow star, but as you can see, that's too far.

So I settle for that unexplored red star.

Meanwhile, I tell the new Colony Ship at Vigaroe to go to Primodius (selected over Draconis because they are equally good but Primodius is closer to those last couple of stars down there)...

And send off the other that reached Rhilus while I wasn't looking off to Esper. It's possible it was waiting for a turn or three, I wasn't paying a ton of attention.

We are now capable of getting Improved Space Scanner on any arbitrary turn, with luck.

I end the turn, and...

The Darloks show up. What do they want?

Peace. I accept, since I'm in the middle of a major colonization effort.

Turn start, and nothing to do. So I end it. I happened to have Centauri selected, which is the unexplored green star being listed.

This time, I think it's Centauri again, but I actually had a Bulrathi fleet selected. I had hoped to get a screenshot, but it's nothing all that interesting.

And Rhilus hits its industry limit this turn. I leave it on research after the game auto-redistributes to it, since I could use an increase in my teching rate.

Then I check on the Darloks. They again have the next weapon tech we are trying to research, but otherwise nothing new.

I still have a spy alive in the Bulrathi Empire, so I checked, and neither they nor the Mrrshan have anything new either. I skipped the screenshots, since it'd be nothing you haven't already seen.

After checking on that, I end the turn, and...

Our Colony Ship reaches Esper. I colonize it, of course.

Here I took a screenshot during the part of the animation where the astronaut man is erecting the flag.

GNN report again. This time?

An announcement of the fact I have a sixth star system. I'm not sure exactly what causes him to recognize this as significant, whether it's, say, me controlling a quarter of all star systems, or the fact that I have twice as many planets as the next largest empire.

And now, welcome to one of the more unique and in my opinion significant quality features of Master of Orion.

Because two thirds of all planets (manual is a tad vague on whether systems lacking planets would count or not) have been colonized, with us taking Esper, the Council convenes. This, incidentally, suggests the Humans hold only one world, as 3 (Bulrathi)+ 3 (Mrrshan) +2 (Darloks) +1 (Psilons) +6 (Us, the Meklars) adds up to 15. If the Humans had two worlds, we should have gotten this sooner, as there are 24 star systems so 16 is the 2/3rds mark, and if the Humans have one world there are now sixteen  inhabited worlds while if they have more than one, it's seventeen. (They can't hold more than two, with the available space)

Anyways, the two largest empires will be up for election. I think. The manual does not specify the exact criteria for it, but, well.

We click forward and get this;

It's always two Emperors that get nominated. Us, and the Mrrshan in this case. Like I said, I'm pretty sure it's the largest two empires that get put forward for this.

We click forward again and...

The Mrrshan are up first, voting for themselves. The number of votes is derived from an Empire's population- the manual says it's 1 vote per 100 units of population, though the direction of rounding and all is not mentioned. Still, it's probably safe to assume the Mrrshan have between 250 and 350 Colonists throughout their three worlds.

The AI will always vote for themselves, as far as I know, if possible. I click to advance the dialogue again and...

The Psilons abstain. Their one vote implies 100 citizens give or take, but then with one world I'd be somewhat surprised by otherwise. Also note that we know the total votes off the bat, the 16 votes total listed up there.

Click to advance again...

The Bulrathi vote for the Mrrshan. I think that might be a spite vote, they are at war with me, but shouldn't even have met the Mrrshan. This is particularly noteworthy given they naturally dislike the Mrrshan (and vice versa).


The Darloks and their two votes abstain.


The Humans and their two votes abstain. So either the cut off for this being called is actually 17 planets in a small galaxy, or the Humans have enough Terraforming tech to make Earth support more than 100m people, because like I said if they have one planet we just now hit 16 populated systems and they have 2 votes when it's one per 100m people.

Then it's my turn. I've got five votes, and can vote as I see fit among the options. Now, if I voted for the Mrrshan it's possible that'd give them a two-thirds majority, which is what you need to be elected. Then I'd have the option to either reject the Council's decision, and have literally every other Empire ally against me and trade their techs so they all have the same techbase, borderline turning it into me against a 10-11 planet super Empire, which would be stupid but if you really want a challenge is an option, or I could accept the judgement of the Council, and lose on the spot.

Naturally, I don't vote for the Mrrshan, given that. I vote for myself.

Like I said, two thirds majority is the cut off.

Now, notably, if every other Empire had voted the Mrrshan, that should have lead to them having such a majority. Ideally, I either pump up my population numbers or deplete someone else's soon, to avoid that actually being possible in the future. Because now that this has happened, election day is every 25 years, specifically on years that end in 00, 25, 50, and 75 (so it doesn't matter what year the first one happens to be called, and in this case our next one is fourteen years out).

Anyways, I said this is a high quality feature of the game. The reason I hold that to be true is a lot of 4X games have a lengthy mop up phase, where realistically you have won, but the game refuses to acknowledge it until you have exterminated every last enemy. For the most part, population is a good measure of power in Master of Orion, and many other 4X games besides, and if you are twice as large as every other empire to be able to elect yourself emperor singlehandedly, you probably were gonna win by genocide anyways, just slower. So it allows you to actually win the game in a more reasonable timeframe without causing big issues otherwise, generally.

And then the turn proper starts.

I check on our population, out of curiosity. We have 454 population between our worlds, which means the game is willing to round up at least 46~ or so pop units for vote purposes.

Having colonized Esper, I immediately send 22 million Colonists from Galos to there. It will be awhile until they arrive, but that just makes it more important to do right away. I also send a few colonists from some other worlds, including Rhilus, but that's not really worth a screenshot for each and every time.

I also direct the Lasership fleet to guard Esper.

As you can see, Esper is unable to actually do any work right now. This tells me our current Planetology is inadequate to get more than one production from two Colonists.

Our current Planetology being ten, and incidentally we will shortly be able to build Controlled Tundra Modules. Any turn now, just have to wait for the breakthrough.

I end the turn, and...

This screenshot contains two significant features. The first is the obvious, the fact that we are colonizing the planet of Primodius. The second is less obvious- a Psilon fleet icon, in purple, departing Mentar. Where exactly do they think they are going? They can't have better fuel cells than us, they're one parsec out of range of ours, so we'd be in contact with them if they did.

In my continuing quest for variety, I took the screenshot as the astronaut walked onscreen.

Two things as the year begins. One, I selected Moro so I could point out the Bulrathi's three Missile Bases there. Two, our third Colony Ship is ready.

I immediately send it off to Draconis, of course.

Then I switch Vigaroe back to dedicated research. We don't need a fourth Colony Ship, so far as we know.

And then send 29 million Colonists from Vigaroe to our new world.

I also send 7 million from Nordia and 8 million from Zhardan as well, but again, not really worth dedicated screenshots.

Then I turn my gaze upon this Coraona class ship. Maybe it has reserve fuel tanks, but even if so, it could maybe reach Centauri? And the Psilons are in contact with the Darloks. I suppose they could be intentionally going to war, but with one ship would be a little odd. And why not just go for Nazin, if they are at war?

Questions for later, I suppose. I end the turn.

Another year, another three warships.

And nothing to do but end the turn.

Breakthrough. Now we'll be able to see ships from even farther out, and know where they are heading, as well as how long it will take them to get there.

And we can colonize Tundra worlds, what with this happening the same turn.

ECM Jammer Mark 4 is the only new tech, and is just the next tier in the line, nothing interesting.

Battle Computer Mark 4 was available last time we were here, though I'll forgive you if you forgot since it was more than an update ago and isn't especially interesting. I go for it, since it's definitely serviceable as a step up over our current mark 3 computers.

In Planetology, there's nothing new. I go with Improved Terraforming +30. There might not be any dead worlds in the entire galaxy, and we certainly don't know of any current examples, so Controlled Dead Environment is not terribly appealing currently.

Then our scout reaches Willow. An Artifacts world, and our very first one. Artifacts Worlds are special. Not only are they ideal for research in general, giving, as the game says, twice as many research points for the same industrial effort, but on top of that, the first player to find them gets an immediate tech up. I can tell from the lack of a colony dome in the image that this is uncolonized, so we are probably the first here, since if Sol was the nearby star the humans would probably have colonized it by now.

And indeed we are. Meet the Meklar Soldier. We see them when we get new tech from invading a planet or finding an Artifacts world. We also see a mini-graphic version every time we engage in ground combat, and would see the same mini graphic if invading a Meklar world as someone else.

Anyways, we got Zortium Armor for free from finding Willow. Zortium is the next step in armor tech after Duralloy, and more advanced than any tech we have yet been able to research in Construction.

Anyways, that cascade of new tech developments done with, we begin the turn proper.

First off, I want Zhardan to build us a Colony Ship, and I want it not immediately relocated elsewhere. So I tell it to Relocate to itself. That's how you get relocation cancelled, you place the planet itself as the Relocate destination. I also switch it to build a Colony Ship, but skipped a screenshot of that.

Then I tell our scout to check the last world down here.

Next, I check the Psilon defense fleet, visible due to our new Improved Space Scanners. Although we are not in contact with the Psilons, we can nevertheless tell that planet is Mentar, and Psilon held, now that it is in scanning range.

Then I look over the relatively large Mrrshan fleets floating about down here.

Quite the variety of ship models in these fleets.

I also check on Esper, and see that the population has expanded to 3, and it now produces two production, meaning it can work in spite of maintenance costs of our fleet and so on. As I kinda already knew, we are producing at least 2/3rds of a production point per citizen right now.

Anyways, I check on our tech, and as you can see Zortium Armor has shot us up from 11 Construction tech level to 17. It is, itself, a 17th level tech.

Armor on ships is a big deal in general, so I want to upgrade our fleet, again.

So in preparation for that, I go talk to the Mrrshan. About time I showed off diplomacy, like, at all.

I use the Audience button to seek an audience with their diplomat, and...

Meet the Mrrshan Diplomat of my own initiative, for once. I haven't previously commented, but the robed figure here is supposed to be you, the player, and the Diplomat is, in turn, a rather oversized hologram, hence the weird lower halves they tend to have.

Here we have the diplomatic menu. Propose Treaty allows us to propose an Alliance or Non-Aggression Pact, or a Peace Treaty if at war. Non-Aggression Pacts allow our fleets to share orbit, but not over an occupied world, which probably explains the Darlok and Bulrathi scouts from so long ago that were confusing me. I don't use the diplomacy system much, and non-aggression pacts don't have a place to be listed under reports. An Alliance makes us entirely unable to fight, able to use each other's worlds for refueling (IE we could use a Mrrshan world to reach a planet five parsecs away from it, were we allied), and causes transport ships that would land on an ally's world to be automatically destroyed instead. Allies are expected to help each other in war, but this is not mechanically enforced. Well, I'm pretty sure the AI dislikes it if you aren't at war with the same people they are while allied with them, but I doubt the game has any ability for them to identify you not fighting their enemies per se.

Form Trade Agreement allows us to offer a trade agreement, which I have covered previously.

Threaten/Break Treaty and Trade is used to break treaties we no long want, including trade, or alternatively to threaten the other Empire with invasion in an attempt to exhort Tribute. I really honestly probably should use diplomacy more, because that could actually be kind of useful, and if I plan to not engage in diplomacy in general and wish to go to war with them anyways, the drawbacks of such sabre rattling would be nil.

Offer Tribute is used to offer either BCs from our planetary reserve or technologies to the other Empire, in an attempt to make them like us.

We're here to use exchange technology, though. We click it, and...

They're only willing to offer Fusion Bombs, and not the more powerful tech of Neutron Blasters that I actually want.

I click it, since we can't back out at this specific stage.

They will only accept either Zortium Armor or Inertial Stabilizers in exchange. I am not willing to provide either, so we hit 'forget it', and cancel the exchange of tech.

But while we are here, I decide to propose upping our trade deal, to 150 BC each year.

They accept. Well, that was not what I was going for, but oh well.

Anyways, time to look at building a new ship design. I look into what a small ship could equip. We could equip Lasers, Nuclear Bombs, Nuclear Missiles, or Ion Cannons. I decide to see what we could get Ion Cannon design wise.

But then it turns out that the best we could do would be a single Ion Cannon, Nuclear Engines, Duralloy Armor, Manuever 2, and an Inertial Stabilizer. I would have wanted either a proper Battle Computer, Zortrium, or both, so back to Mediums again. Note the inconsistency- the tech is Zortium, the armor is Zortrium, with a second r. I have no idea why. The manual lists it as Zortrium, and the tech comes back as Zortrium in later entries in the series, so it is likely that Zortrium is the intended name and the cases of Zortium an error.

Anyways, add Zortrium...

Then I look at special systems. We could give them Battle Scanners, but it'd be excessive and a waste of a lot of space. So I don't bother.

Much more space efficient and more effective to add the Mark 3 Battle Computer.

I give them three Ion Cannons, and then see there is room for a lighter weapon, as well. I go with a Nuclear Bomb, to help punch through Planetary Missile Bases. The Laser is fairly meh, and would actively cost more, so I'm not interested.

The final design. A nice step up over our Ionstorms. I go with the default name the game had picked of Tormentor.

Then I switch Nordia around to build the new model ships.

Thanks to the Improved Space Scanner, I'm able to see that this Psilon ship is going to the Radiated world over here.

I confirm they are currently allied with the Bulrathi, which is in turn our explanation for how this is possible. It's within five parsecs from Moro, after all. Kinda doesn't answer the why, though.

I end the turn, then.

And the first Tormentor rolls off the assembly lines. Well, probably a bit more complicated than that if it takes some sixty million or so people all year to build a single ship. Master of Orion ships take a lot of peoples' labor to build.

I check on Esper again, and see that it's producing 3 Production at 4 pop. We are producing, therefore, at least 3/4ths of a production point per head, but also less than 1 production point per head, or else it'd be four, and would have been producing two at two pop and yadda.

Then I end the turn...

And our Colony Ship arrives at Draconis.

I colonize it, of course.

And the next Colony Ship finishes, as well as two more Tormentors.

Having colonized Draconis, the Sol system is now in range of our scanners. That's a fairly hefty war fleet they have sitting around there, the Couriers are small, and I believe the Dreadnought is a huge ship design, which would make the quantity of 6 quite impressive. It might just be a large, though. I'm not entirely sure, been awhile since I looked at the blue graphics or Human ship names. Either way, the Escorts and Warships are large size ships.

Since we have seen the Humans, albeit not properly encountered them, I figure now is about the time to talk about them. Humans are diplomatically focused, having better diplomatic baselines than normal with everyone, including the Darloks and the Psilons, being the other species I noted that has non-neutral relations with the Psilons and the only species to not be at a baseline of Unease with the Darloks. More than that baseline, they are better at trade, getting a +25% value from all trade routes. I'm not clear how that works in some of the nitty gritty details, because the manual just says they get 25% more profit, leaving an open question as to whether they, say, get to start from -5% trade effect and end at +125% of the agreed upon value, or if they would alternatively start out in the hole more BC on a trade route than other species because of multiplying it by 1.25 and thus making the value larger, positive or negative.

Anyways, they also get double the benefit from positive diplomatic actions, making it easier to make people like them, and they 'add +5 diplomatic levels' when offering deals and in the High Council, which if I am not badly misunderstanding basically means getting better deals, as if the other guy likes you more than they do, and being more likely to be voted by the AI.

Lastly, they are among the better researchers, being Good at Planetology and Propulsion and Excellent at Force Fields with no areas of specific weakness. Must species are a net +1, so to speak, being either Excellent in one area and Poor in another (such as the Meklars or Mrsshan), or Good in two areas and Poor in third (such as the Bulrathi), or simply Good in a single area (like the Darloks). There are four exceptions in all, and the only one where being an exception means having a better spread of tech specialties than the Humans is the tech focused Psilons. In the same sense that most factions are +1 net, the Humans are +4 (and the Psilons +6). Mind you, factions like the Meklars with superior industry pan out to being better at research in general, so it's not as big an advantage as it sounds.

In general, I consider humans one of the weakest species, and everything but their slightly better research is simply not applicable in their current situation of being off on their own in a corner of the galaxy. It's possible I underestimate them, since like I said I don't mess with diplomacy tons, but even if so all their advantages are non-applicable while so completely cut off.

Anyways, I send 20 million Colonists from Vigaroe to Draconis. I also send 8 million from Nordia to Draconis, but I'm still trying to not have piles of screenshots every time we colonize a new world just to show every separate planet I sent people from.

Then I select Zhardan, because it completed the Colony Ship, only to see that red line heading from a Bulrathi fleet to it. This is because of Improved Space Scanners; any enemy fleet heading for a world we own that we select shows that it is coming, in addition to our more general ability to check ships in motion's targets and ETAs.

Anyways, I send the Colony Ship off to Willow.

Then I check on this Bulrathi fleet. Well, it's a warship proper this time, and a large class. But with a single ship they probably can't really beat my defenses, even at just one Missile Base.

But to be on the safe side, I have Zhardan start building more Missile Bases...

And send the current batch of Ionstorms from Galos off to Zhardan. They'll beat the Tooth there and should be more than a match for it.

Then I end the turn.

And our Scout discovers Whynil.

A Tormentor is finished, and here we can see that Esper's population has grown, due to the first batch of Transports I sent reaching it. It finally is producing a halfway decent amount of production.

Anyways. There are no systems left to explore. Every star system is either guarded by the Guardian, colonized, or has been explored by us. Accordingly, I go to scrap our Scout, as such a design is no longer of value to us.

Doesn't save us even a single BC in maintenance, alas. But the freed up design slot could matter.

Then I decide to scrap the old Laserships, as I am fairly sure Esper is secure for the foreseeable future, and I don't like how much I am spending on maintenance.

Yeah. Over half my maintenance was Laserships.

Anyways, surprisingly, Zhardan went from being predicted to take 2 years last turn to getting 2/year this turn. I'm not complaining, but it is worth commenting. Probably happened in part from scrapping the Laserships, now that I think about it. I did just cut my ship maintenance by more than half.

And here I spot a second Tooth making for Galos.

So I make sure Galos will have the Missile Bases to warmly greet them by the time they arrive.

Then it's off to Vigaroe, to make it build one final Colony Ship to take the newly discovered Whynil.

I check on our spies at this point, and note that our spy in the Bulrathi Empire apparently died three years ago. Nothing else of interest has come up in terms of tech and so on among the other empires.

Anyways, I check on our current trade deal value with the Mrrshan, and our maintenance expenses. Not much to say about it, just something I decided to do.

I end the turn...

And we can see that Galos is going to build two more Missile Bases this turn.

Zhardan will get another one. I don't bother to change that, yet.

I do end the turn, though.

And our last Colony Ship finishes.

I decide four Missile Bases is enough, and go and change Zhardan over to building more Tormentors and set its relocate point back to Galos.

And with the new Colony Ship finished, I switch Vigaroe back to focusing on research.

And send said Colony Ship off to take Whynil.

Then I end the turn.

And the Bulrathi arrive.

The first thing I do is scan the Tooth. It's equipped with an ECM Jammer MK2, which I can tell given the missile defense level, as well as Duralloy Armor (or possibly Titanium II, which would give the same health) and a Battle Computer MK1, Class 1 Deflector Shields, and a Battle Scanner, of course.

The Ion Cannons it bristles with are fairly underwhelming, given it's a large. Heavy Ion Cannons use triple the space regular ones do, both size and power wise, so this is the equivalent of 17 Ion Cannons of space. That's not terrible, but given how our Medium ships armed with three Ion Cannons apiece, that we should be able to get about six times as many of, outclass in other areas, we should be able to tear this apart fairly easily. Especially since we have 37, not six ships present.

Zhardan's Missile Bases could probably endure quite a few turns under fire from it.

Given that, I start firing on it and have my Ionstorms hang back...

Only to realize it's trying to retreat and futilely try to run it down at that point. Oh well.

Then it's time to colonize Willow.

As usual, I try to vary the screenshot timing.

Here I catch the logo forming in action. The two halves come together from the top and bottom of the screen, and once they meet in the middle the name we have seen previously simply unceremoniously appears below it.

The news being how many planets we control again, and how hard that means we are winning.

The Bulrathi want a chat.

Peace? Nah, I'm annoyed by you guys. I now want to glass Moro in a few turns to stop you from bugging me so often with your ships and so on.

In a probably unrelated turn of events, the Darloks declare war.

And the year 2420 begins.

I switch Galos back to factory work. 6 Missile Bases should be more than enough for a Tooth.

Then I order 37 million Colonists from Galos off to Willow, as well as five million from Zhardan, six million from Nordia, and seven million from Rhilus. I want to get it up to speed as soon as possible, since it gets more work per population if researching than our existing worlds do.

Then I spot this new model of Darlok large ship.

And see that the Psilons have several copies of a new warship model themselves, the Nova.

And then I end the turn.

And the Bulrathi ship arrives to Galos.

This Tooth actually charges in as I fire at it.

So for now, I have the Tormentors hang back.

Keep firing...

And now it starts retreating out of fear of our missiles. I don't think I've ever explicitly commented that it takes one full turn after you tell a unit to retreat for it to actually warp out. Units ordered to retreat will immediately try to move away from enemies, and only on the next turn actually leave the battle.

I got this screenshot at the very start of the warp out animation, so you can see it starting to sorta graphically flip to go the other way.

They get away, unsurprisingly.

And the year 2421 begins.

And that's where I'll end this particular update. Tune in next time for us Colonizing Whynil, building up our worlds, and hopefully either or both of bombing Moro into dust and/or seizing Centauri from the Darloks.

As this run is very much entering end game territory, feel free to leave a comment if you have an opinion on which species I should play next. No guarantees I'll go with any suggestions, but I'm still considering who should be second and if you have a good reason I may be swayed, or even just if a bunch of people want to see the same species, that might be enough reason on its own.


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