Let’s Play Stellaris: Filling in the Blanks

We’re wrapping up the early game now, as I’m basically just racing my neighbors to claim systems.

And so we grow…

And grow…

And grow until we’ve secured our borders and only need to backfill the random systems I’ve left behind my borders.

The era of space piracy draws to a close… and it’s time to start considering mid-game plans.

An option would be to sit tight and focus inward. I have tons of building to upgrade, systems to expand into, and worlds to colonize. It is absolutely a valid option… but it’s the boring, run out the clock tactic. Besides, I want to see more stuff!

The alternative is war.

I have two enemies (rivals with a militarist bent, really, they’ve claimed a couple of my systems but that’s the extent of the conflict so far) at my borders: the Bebaki toward the center of the galaxy and the Hiffnar clockwise and away from me. Right now, I enjoy a significant military advantage: my tech is better by a wide enough margin that it shows. In addition, I think I have a stronger economy than either of them, and Hiffnar is currently at war with one of their neighbors.

Bebaki, however, could be an interesting target as well: I figure I could get the Commonwealth of Trako to join me in fighting them, as we already have great relations and a defensive pact.

But ultimately I decide to go for Hiffnar’s land. I’d like to expand in the unexplored galactic north, which would also cut Hiffnar from going any further inland. There’s also a great chokepoint system to contain them to their quadrant if I can seize that much ground from them.

That does means I need to start cutting down on “natural” expansion. taking systems costs Influence, plus my fleet need a thorough round of reinforcing and updating before we go to war.



Let’s Play Stellaris: First Worries

Well, our counterclockwise neighbors seem nice. I sign a bunch of deals with them (notably trading them some surplus food and energy for minerals to fuel my expansion)

I do engage in a bit of a race with them to claim the remaining territory between us.

But really, they seem like good people.

Then we meet more weird aliens. On the plus side, they’re far away from home.

On the minus side, they’re assholes.

They’re basically our polar opposites: they love warfare, and they love their myths and legends.

Realistically, we’re not going to go to war yet: there’s so much empty space between the two of us that it’s a far-future worry. But it absolutely means we need to start looking at our military options.

Weekly Report

So Secret Project Alpha is proceeding quickly, and taking so much of my time that I’ve barely managed any writing-related work this week. But we’re almost done with it, and it’s going to result in a major upgrade to my writing ability.

There’s been more gaming than I’d like to admit, but I needed the mental break from Project Alpha and the usual day-to-day grind.

And there’s been some minor progress, too. Don’t count me out yet. We’ll be ready to write in earnest this fall for sure!

Let’s Play Stellaris: First Contact

Last time on Stellaris…

We were working on reactivating an alien shipyard. That worked out okay, as it spat out a fleet of three ships, significantly more powerful than any I could build. And then we salvaged a derelict ship from a gas giant, an enormous cruiser, whose power dwarfed my entire fleet’s.

So when the game decided to spawn a few pirates, well…

Let’s just say it didn’t work out so well for them.

So we kept expanding, kept exploring…. and then the big day happened.

Weird, mysterious ALIENS! Who could have imagined!?!

I prioritize the project to understand them, and finally make a formal First Contact.

And… they’re not hostile. In fact, they’re friendly enough that they send me a small gift of energy and minerals.

So they’re friendly, interested in being nice… probably in part because my fleet is much more powerful than theirs due to my two ship-generating anomalies. But also because they’re nice people overall. Which means we shouldn’t go to war with them, right?

Let’s Play Stellaris: And So It Begins

The glorious Birdian Galactic Empire is born today.

Here is our home system, a glorious trinary chock-full of resources and glorious birds.

We’re not exploiting it fully at the moment, and so I order my construction ship to build the missing science stations and such. Meanwhile, we send our science ship out to survey a neighboring star system, and get started on advancing our glorious science.

The way research works in Stellaris is that you get to pick a research goal from the list of technologies you have all the prerequisites for. So I might have, for instance, Blue Lasers available now and then not have them available the next time around. So while I think researching combat capabilities now is a waste, I can’t just ignore all combat research until I find other potential enemies because I can never be sure when they’ll next be in the list. Still, at this stage I think focusing on growth technologies is a valid decision.

And so the early game goes: I eventually build a second science ship to conduct surveys more quickly, I send my construction ship around to develop infrastructure and expand our frontiers… and I encounter fun little stories and events as I progress through those initial, lonely stages.

Those events aren’t hugely game-changing so far (although as this session comes to a close I get the opportunity to reactivate an ancient alien shipyard, which I hope will give me something cooler than engineering research.)

But then… after a large investment in resource, the Birdian successfully land a colony ship on another world!

This is an auspicious time for our birds. Here’s our Empire as it stands now.

Admittedly, we still have a long way to go to colonize the enitre galaxy, but I think we have a solid base to get started. Our economy can easily sustain a growing colony, I’ve turned the corner on mineral production so now the bottleneck on expansion is Construction Ship time, not production… things are looking up

Weekly Report: On Vacation

…from work, that is. It’s actually been a fairly productive week.

First, I’ve finished revising Book the First. Still need to punch in my revisions (and this includes rewriting a problematic scene) but it’s one big, daunting task removed from my to-do list.

I’ve also started on drawing up my final-try for agents for Book the First. I want to get fifteen names on that list… and I’m at four. But that’s for later anyway.

I’m also working on my writing tools: I want to try and write more efficiently now that free time isn’t as available as I’d like. I want to try the method suggested by Karen Wiesner in First Draft in 30 Days. Unfortunately, that means reproducing an awful lot of worksheets – a fantastic task when I’m feeling mentally exhausted.

I’ve also taken the edge off the worst of my fatigue, but honestly right now I’m not in a great place for writing. It’s really hard to get the serenity I need, but it seems like that’s going to get better too.

We’ll see!

Let’s Play Stellaris: Blind Playthrough

It’ll be a while before I find the motivation to fire up Europa Universalis again. Great game, but I’m more than tired of it at the moment after the endgame slog of the World Conquest.

So let’s try something different:

Stellaris is a 4X game, which means this time we’re going to conquer the galaxy! Or not. We’ll see. Unlike with EU4, here I just want to have fun without the pressure. This is my first playthrough (I played maybe an hour of it before just to get a feel for the control and UI, but that’s it.)

The setup is simple: this is the base game, plus the Utopia and Leviathans expansion. I’ll be playing at Ensign level (the default difficulty) in a medium-sized galaxy. It’s Ironman too, just for kick.

So… let’s get started!

First, we need to pick a species.

Now, we could pick a pre-determined species, but where’s the fun in that? I’m here to explore options!

So I fiddle along in the species creator, and end up with this glorious, glorious society.

Lots of traits, ethics, etc. Let’s not get bogged down into specifics, but these litlle birdies are fast-breeding, fast-learning, and built to expand quickly, but somewhat peacefully.

How I hope this build works:

The Fleeting trait means my leaders will live shorter lives. I hope that Fast Learner will counteract that, letting me have better leaders faster and for a larger proportion of time overall. No idea if that’s how it’ll work out, or if more experienced leaders are worth that cost, but we’ll see.

The Weak trait means my ground troops are not as good (and I have a penalty to collecting minerals). Since I’m not shooting for an overwhelming-the-galaxy game, I think this is an okay drawback to pay for other traits.

Rapid Breeders means I will have more Pops to work the tiles of worlds I colonize, so I hope this’ll be enough to counteract the Minerals penalty of Weak (and give me more besides.) And Adaptive means we’ll be able to settle more worlds, as we’re okay with imperfect countries. So the idea is that I’ll be able to make good use of all the worlds I colonize.

As to our government Civics, we build efficiently (to make use of that increased population) and we’re good at bureaucracy (letting us have more Core Worlds.)

Finally, our Ethics give us minor bonuses that work well with the planned playstyle.

Next, we’ll start out on our journey.

LPEU4: To the End

Well, at some point, EUIV becomes an automatism. Find a target, smash the target, grab land, find another target.

By the time the Age of Absolutism rolls around, the only serious opposition left to a World Conqueror (regardless of who it is) are the few designed-to-be-powerful nations or group of nations: Ming, the HRE, either Russia or the Commonwealth, and the such.

And of those, usually only the HRE, Ming and a superstrong Russia can really remain a real threat after the first victorious war against them. Everybody else gets significantly easier to fight once you’ve beaten them once.

So the only real enemy left if you can defeat those large countries are the clock and rebels. Because if you play too conservatively, sticking to below 100% Overextension all the time, you won’t be able to conquer everything in time. But at over 100% Overextension, rebels are inevitable.

In my run, I fail to realize that until very late. So the last fifty years or so I need to accept stupid amounts of rebellions (even having to micromanage my armies just to kill separatists rebels before they break my empire in parts.) because I’m stuck going over 200% overextension (and of course, in the last few years I’m doomed to living at Stability -3, because respecting truces would prevent me from finishing in time.)

So yeah… the last few decades are an uneventful slog of moving armies around, stomping inferior opponents over and over and over again. Really more of a chore than anything else. And then I get the achievement and it’s over.

Really, nothing exciting at all.

Biggest lesson learned? It’s not interesting LP material. But it’s over, so whatever.

Back in the Saddle Again

Well, I took an unannounced vacation. I was exhausted, and my son hit a more demanding phase to compound the problem. So yeah. I didn’t accomplish anything of note lately. I did complete that EU4 World Conquest… which was fun but mentally exhausting.

I’m back at work now, however. And it’s time to the final edit push on Book the First (excluding actually entering the corrections, of course, but that’s easier than reviewing.) So that’s one of my goals for the week.

Beyond that, let’s try to get to writing again. Every word counts!

LPEU4: Let’s Get Absolute

So, let’s recap. I have vassalized Castille and Portugal, mostly wiped Aragon away, finally wiped out the Mamluks, begun expansion into India… So yeah, lots of progress.

But now it’s 1601, and Absolutism is about to appear. Time to start thinking in terms of conquering everything.

Here’s what I want to do: I’m going to trigger a Golden Age just before the Age of Reformation ends. I’ll try to do an Absolutism boost right from the start of the age, by capitulating to the demands of particularists rebels and then redropping my autonomy, and then firing Court and Country immediately. This means, unfortunately, tanking my unrest a few years before the age hits.

Particularists appear, then I grant them their wish of increased autonomy (only to immediately lower it across the board, boosting my Absolutism.) And then it’s time to endure the Court and Country disaster (which, as disasters go, isn’t too bad.) I even manage some conquests during that time, and then it ends and I have lots of absolutism and everything is perfect forever.

Until I fall into the Diplomatic Power trap. See, with that much administrative efficiency, I can afford to take enormous peace deals and not worry too much about overextension. But those are all Unjustified Demands, meaning they cost me diplo points. To mitigate that, I need to complete the Influence idea group… and I forgot about it. So I end up in a cycle where I spend all my diplo points in peace deals, and fail to fulfill my ideas or advance my diplo tech. Which could potentially delay me getting to tech level 23 and the glorious Advanced Casus Belli.

I catch myself just in time. Seriously, I put my campaigns on hold, I spend a fortune on diplo advisors, I set my national focus to Diplomatic… and wait until I complete the Idea group. Then I start warring again, but slowly enough that my tech manages to catch up just in time.

Then I start reducing enemies to nothingness.