Taking advantage of my peace treaty with the bears, I snuck a colony ship down to the recently-destroyed Incendius and grabbed it for myself. Then I snapped a picture of the galactic map, right after the inconclusive 2450 vote:
The vote itself was still split, with 13 votes for both the Klackons and myself (before I cast my usual brownie vote). And on the map it looks like I'm doing great, adding two additional planets to my empire. The problem is that both of those worlds were fledgling startups with no production whatsoever. They were also medium-sized worlds (size 55 and 65) with no prospect of ever growing larger through terraforming. Meanwhile, the Klackons continued to run wild on the west side of the map, out to 14 colonies with each sporting more terraforming and production than I was likely to see any time soon. I felt confident regarding every other race on the map. But what was I going to do about the runaway bugs?
Naturally, I had to stand those new worlds up as fast as possible:
I couldn't capture factories (and tech) in ground invasions, which meant migrating in new colonists ASAP after razing and replacing. Little Centauri and Dunatis sent 1/4 of their pop offworld every turn, using Reserve spending to help grow back the replacements. That helped make a slow process of development somewhat faster. It was the most I could do!
The Bulrathi soon declared war in 2455.Was it ten turns already since the peace treaty? Yep. Could I hold these new worlds? Maybe. It would depend on whether the bears sent their main fleet or not... I had to give the Klackons Improved Space Scanner to break their alliance with the bears, but it was worth it. I couldn't have the runaway AI coming down on my head right now too.
Then I saw this:
Classic AI stupidity. The Bulrathi had a huge fleet that could wipe out my new gains. And what do they do? Move it PAST the weakly defended worlds, in favor of reinforcing one of their own worlds at Simius. But by the time their force gets there, I will have already wiped it out with my bombers. Madness! Then the Bulrathi Huge designs disappeared after they arrived at Simius. As best I can tell, the Bulrathi scrapped their fleet immediately after they declared war. Absolute insanity!
I did refound Simius, though it wasn't exactly going to do much as a size 25 world, even with bonus Meklar factories. At best, a planet for the AI to target rather than useful core worlds. For all that the Bulrathi war had been a distraction, I was holding my own and defending the Pollus/Incendius combo. They were finally maxing out on their factories and adding some defensive bases, after which I could think about going on the offensive once more against the crumbling bears. Obviously none of this would have been possible had they not scrapped their fleet at the start of the war!
I shot down a Bulrathi Huge design at Pollus, but not before it dropped some Death Spores. Good thing the attack level of the design was low, so most of them missed... Not having any antidote tech makes things tough. Darned Planetology! Need some better missiles too.
I was not nominated in the 2475 election! It was Darloks versus Klackons. While the vote was split and the game went on, this wasn't exactly good news. Lacking Planetology tech was really hurting me, as the Klackons had Advanced Soil Enrichment and something like +40 Terraforming by now. All of their worlds were just huge. I'd have to conquer more planets just to get back into the vote, to say nothing of winning it!
So let's do that:
2488 saw me lead a strike against Ursa! The missile bases shot down all of my old bombers, and killed about 100 of my NPG fighters, but my Graviton Beam Huge design blasted through the weak shielding and took the planet without losses. Now I could immediately refound the planet, adding a powerful new world to my arsenal. Ryoun, one of the few remaining Bulrathi planets, quickly followed. I tried to sign peace with the One-Planet Empire bears, but they refused. Insanity.
Here I am fighting off poachers at Ryoun. Fortunately the Bulrathi were devastated, and their presence was a non-issue. The Humans (red) were similarly weak, not a threat worth worrying over. The Klackons were the ones I feared, and luckily their incoming ship was a solo colony boat, not one of their prowling death fleets. That gave me the time to stand up Ursa and Ryoun, my recent conquests. I now had a second core to play around with!
One thing that I did do throughout the game was to trade old outdated techs to the AIs for other outdated techs. Usually I rely on ground invasions to fill in those holes and advance miniaturization... which obviously wasn't going to happen in this game. And although Meklar spies are good, they aren't good enough to grab every tech (not to mention the diplomatic consequences attached). The wreckage of the Bulrathi was good for a number of trades, as were the small Sakkra and Human empires - when I was in contact with them, anyway. I've kind of glossed over these deals in my report, to save space, but there were a lot of old techs, especially Computer techs, going back and forth.
The galaxy map in 2500:
Swallowing two more Bulrathi planets had put me back into the Council, against the Klackons as usual. I pulled votes from the Sakkra, Humans, and Darloks, ending up with 25/38 votes - one away from victory! Rats. Even a little terraforming tech and the game would be over. Instead, I continued to slug my way through this brutal universe. My "allies" the Sakkra made a pretty serious play for Ryoun, my newest colony, bringing 300 Medium ships! I shot them all down, but it costs me 100 NPG fighters and one of my six Graviton behemoths. That definitely hurt. All the while, the Klackons were still growing and getting stronger, and the Darloks were finally taking over the Hostile worlds near my start that I had been unable to colonize. As well as I had done, this game was still nowhere close to finished.
In the next decade, I managed to get peace with the Bulrathi. Had no desire to wipe them out and take the reputation hit, not when I could continue to trade/steal techs from their breathing corpse. The Klackons evidently had no such feelings, as they wiped out the Sakkra. Eep! I also got a small break and landed the Mining event on Centauri, my size 45 planet. Earlier I had landed the Merchant event as well, so this was pretty fortunate. The Nova event was the only poion apple that had showed up so far.
Most of the first 25 years of the new century were spent teching and developing my recent conquests. I finished Omega-V Bomb and Reduced Waste 40%, among others. The Propulsion tree kept throwing real duds, as I was forced to move from Range 9 to Range 10. Ugh. I filled in some holes through trading, like picking up Fusion Beam from the Darloks for Reduced Waste 40% (they already had RW 60%). Still looking for shield upgrades too; I had Class VI Shields, but nothing better than Planetary Shield V.
Finally got a scan of the main Klackon fleet as they arrived at a disputed Hostile world. Bad as this may look, the only dangerous ship there was the Paladin, and not because of its Megabolt Cannons. The things that really had me worried were the Fusion Bombs and the Ion Stream Projector. Even used that special before? I would end up hating it thoroughly before this game was done.
The Humans eventually declared war on me in 2522. I had been really bad to them, using my advanced Computer tech to steal lots of goodies from them. My goal was to land their awesome Auto Blaster gun, but I ended up pulling a lot of lesser Weapons and Computer tech instead. The one upside is that the war allowed me to go after the lone Human world in the region, the terraformed planet of Paranar:
Paranar was size 135! Amazing how big even a relatively normal planet will look when you don't have access to terraforming. It had 40+ bases, which I wore down over several turns of bombing - the Humans had good shields, not so good missile tech. I was not nominated in the 2525 election, which was Klackons vs. Darloks resulting in a split vote. The troubling news there was that the bugs had 19/42 votes all by themselves; I only commanded 8 votes! Unfortunately, it was clear that I was still not close to victory...
Destroying Paranar dropped me out of contact with the Humans, which was a good thing as it meant their alliance with the Darloks wouldn't put me into a two-front war. Or... maybe not, as the Darloks declared war as well in 2532. That was definitely bad, as I had exactly 18 turns to patch up relations or I *WOULD* lose the next council vote. Then on the following turn, the Klackons declared war as well. Durned Erratic races!
The caption for this screenshot reads, "I am in trouble now."
What I needed to do was get peace with the Darloks, then turn around and flip them into allies by bombing Klackons worlds. Easy, except that all the bug worlds are packing massive missile base counts out the wazoo. Meanwhile, the Klackon death fleet paid me a visit at Maalor:
Yes, that is a buggy 32,000 stack of ships. I guess I could have corrected it using OREO (a Master of Orion editor), but it didn't really matter. That Avenger design was all Megabolt Cannons, no danger to my own bases. The dangerous ships were the Paladins (stack of 34), with their Fusion Bombs and Ion Stream Projectors. Every shot reduced the maximum hit points of my bases, then the bombs did the rest of the work. Maalor was toast, and I barely managed to get my fleet out of there without facing destruction! All I could do was rebuild once the death fleet moved on (which it did, of course. AI never has the discipline to hold its fleet over new conquests to stand them up.)
While the Klackons were ripping up one of my core worlds, I was planning an invasion of the Darloks:
Talas was destroyed in 2538 with minimal losses, then immediately recolonized. As a size 100 world, it was more than worth the destruction of size 55 Maalor. Better to have both though, if possible! The clock continued to tick down to the next vote, still with the Darloks holding out... Then, finally, I was able to get them to agree to peace in 2543. Cost me Advanced Space Scanner, but I *HAD* to do it! Otherwise the game would have been over. Then I got the Klackons to sign peace as well in 2548, for Inertial Stabilizer tech (eep!) Had to do it, as they were threatening more systems of mine. All things considered, I made out OK from these unexpected and unplanned wars. Just surviving was a chore for the moment.
In the 2550 election, I pulled a vote from the Darloks, but no one else. It was amazing I got their vote at all, given the fighting we had been doing. I had 10 votes, the Darloks had 8, and the Klackons had 18, with 4 for the Humans and 1 for the Bulrathi. I felt a little better from these results; if I could reduce the bug population through bombing, and pull the other races to my side, I might be able to escape from this galaxy with a win. Maybe.
Clearly, the Klackons were still the runaway AI in every bar graph category.
Scatter Pack VII came through immediately afterwards in 2551. My bases suddenly jumped to SEVEN times their previous firepower! That would let me go on the offensive without worrying as much about my home worlds. The only option to move forward though was Hercular missiles. Ugh. I soon finished Improved Industrial 4 as well, which had me feeling good until my spies reported that the Klackons had just finished the entire Construction tree with Neutronium Armor (!) This Impossible difficulty is no joke.
At least I had enough miniaturization to design a kickass bomber:
We've got an impressive Omega-V design here with speed 4 and attack level 7. Medium size and therefore pricey, but it carries 3 bombs and will do a crapload of damage. This ship is finally powerful enough to crack the Klackon defenses at their core worlds, in large numbers. I spent the next dozen turns building bombers, then prepared to go after the Klackons again.
The galactic map in 2560. Note that the Darloks and Klackons both lack Atmospheric Terraforming, so I still can't take over the many Hostile worlds in my corner of space. That was a constant irritation, let me tell you... My hope at this point was to destroy enough Klackon worlds to escape with a victory in the 2575 election. If I could just reduce their vote total, it might be enough to let me win.
Over the next few turns, I destroyed Aurora, Morrig, and Antares - all Klackons worlds. In retaliation, the bugs sent a major fleet against Ursa. My world got smashed but survived with 3 out of 28 missile bases remainig. Quite a fight! Rebuilding was initiated immediately. They would try again a little later, but I performed better losing only 5 out of 23 bases the second time around. Even better, I traded for Auto Blaster with the Humans, only costing me Repulsor Beam - sweet!
On the attack again, I took out Vox, although this time my bombers weren't enough to destroy the 38 bases in one volley. Thus they took a hit from the missiles, and I lost over 100 of them. Yeoch! Couldn't afford those kind of losses, sadly. Since the Klackons had ungodly levels of Construction tech, I targeted that area with my spies. First hit landed Powered Armor, which bumped up my tech levels but was otherwise useless. Second hit was more successful:
The improved armor bulked up my bases quite a bit - I had been using Zortrium previously. Now if I could just finish researching that Planetary Shield XV that I was working on...
The 2575 election was a huge disappointment - the Darloks passed me in population! That meant they were running against the Klackons instead of me. There were 41 total votes, split with 15 for the Klackons, 11 for the Darloks, 10 for me, 4 for Humans, and 1 for Bulrathi. Clearly, I was going to have to increase my own population, reduce that of the Darloks, and continue to beat on the Klackons. In other words, not close to winning at all. Sigh.
And... that's when I ran out of time. I didn't have a chance to complete this game before the deadline hit, and I can't say I'm all that interested in continuing. I was in no danger of losing or anything, just not making much progress towards winning either. It was relatively easy to blow up individual AI worlds. Standing them up and keeping them was the problem! I think I could have won the game eventually, given enough time. I just ran out of it.
Sorry if that's not the ending you were expecting! I don't always win, and I have to live in the real world and make a living, ya know. (Even though the life of a grad student allows for a lot of flexibility!) Thanks for reading, and if you played Imperium 12, I hope you had a good time. It was probably a good idea that I didn't have everyone play this map.