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Tom Francis Galactic Civilizations peaceful diary

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May 26th, 2016
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  1. Galactic Civilizations 2 is like Civilization set in space, which means it addresses one of the key flaws of that series: it wasn't set in space. Last year I kept a diary of my attempt to conquer the largest possible galaxy you can play in it. Since then, the Twilight of the Arnor expansion has increased that size by 50%. This is a diary of my attempt to conquer this new size of galaxy, without resorting to violence. This time I'm going for peace.
  2.  
  3. This diary was originally published as a free book with the October 2008 issue of PC Gamer UK. It's so preposterously long that our content management system can't handle it in a single post, so from Day 27 onwards it will continuehere.
  4.  
  5.  
  6. Day 1: Give Peace A Chancellor
  7.  
  8. The race I created for my last game - small, cuddly, rabbit-like creatures who ate their opponents' eyeballs out of bitterness for having none of their own - ascended to Godhood. So my race this time are their distant descendants: small, cuddly, rabbit-like vegetarians who eat lychees for old times' sake. The Spatial Hares.
  9.  
  10. Creating your own species is a little more complicated these days: the Twilight of the Arnor expansion gives each of the standard races a different set of technologies, so you've either got to copy one of them or start modding. If you examine the Spatial Hares technology tree - don't, they hate that - you might find it suspiciously similar to that of the Krynn.
  11.  
  12. Here are some unrelated facts:
  13.  
  14. 1) In virtually every strategy game ever, victory by cultural dominance takes so much more time, effort and money than establishing military superiority that it's next to useless.
  15.  
  16. 2) About the only thing I didn't like about the last expansion to this game was the addition of spies: they're virtually pointless for the person placing them on enemy worlds, and irritating for the victim to remove.
  17.  
  18. 3) I never really got the hang of Starbases in GalCiv. For ages I thought they were a type of mine that you could only build on resource crystals you find in space, but even once I worked out you could build them anywhere, I could never decide where I should.
  19.  
  20. 4) The Krynn tech-tree I've based mine one specialises in three things: cultural dominance, spies and starbases.
  21.  
  22. I would need a strong leader for this. The leader of my race in the last game was forever marred by a weird bug in the previous expansion: if the name you chose for him was very long, the name of your homeworld sometimes got tacked onto the end of it. My leader was Paul Davies Mutilator of Worlds, and my homeworld was called Blood, so he ended up being called Paul Davies Mutilator of WorldsBlood - more confusing than scary.
  23.  
  24.  
  25. This time I wanted something impressive sounding but which captured our mission to bring harmony and happiness to the galaxy, so I went with Klasnikorlax, Ambassador of Love. Our worlds, instead of being named after viscera or human remains, would all be positive emotions: Happiness, Joy and Friendship.
  26.  
  27. I spent the first few moments of the game proper leafing through the endless reams of stats and attributes GalCiv tells you about your civilisation, and eventually came across my leader name. It read "Klasnikorlax, Ambassador of LoveJoy".
  28.  
  29. God damn it. I'm the ambassador of a dishonest antiques dealer from East Anglia.
  30.  
  31.  
  32. Day 2: The Grapes of Korath
  33.  
  34. A Large galaxy is pretty large. Your starting ships can't reach the other side of it until you research more advanced life-support technologies. A Huge galaxy is larger still, but a whole hundred-year-long Huge game could unfold in one remote corner of a Gigantic map. I'm not playing on a Gigantic map. The new size is called Immense, and it's half as big again.
  35.  
  36. Even with eighteen different species fighting for survival, it's dizzyingly spaced-out. Normally that's a good thing: you want a nice big stretch of stars all to yourself rather than jostling with a neighbour for all the good planets. But if I'm going to take over the entire galaxy by sidling up and showing them how awesome my culture is, I want to get close to the other races as quickly as possible. The Krynn technologies I'm using are all about indoctrinating everyone else to your religion, which means getting near enough to spread it.
  37.  
  38. That's a lot easier to do when they're a fledgling race with just a few worlds. My plan, based mostly on what I've read about how Culture works on forums, is to smother them with a sort of cultural 'hug'. Before they've got a military together, their people become so dependent on your TV shows, fancy clothing or religion that they care more about your society than that of their own government, and the whole planet converts to your side.
  39.  
  40. So I ignored the rather unattractive planets near my home world and sent my first colony ships out as far as they would go, hoping to make first contact. Before long, one did.
  41.  
  42.  
  43. Kora's seas of blood and Arenas of Pain have been linked to the planet's disappointing tourism revenue.
  44. Before I go any further, a little info on the Drengin: they're like a more evil version of the Klingon: aggressive, cruel, and powerful; and last time they ended up being my arch-nemesis. The big historical conflict in their society was over whether prisoners of war should be enslaved and worked half to death, or killed instantly. The killed-instantly camp eventually left to form a new society called the Korath Clan.
  45.  
  46. My first contact was with these guys, a race whose special ability is an unstoppable chemical weapon that can instantaneously exterminate twenty-billion people. I just hope they know good TV when they see it.
  47.  
  48.  
  49. Day 3:Sweet 15
  50.  
  51. I've set the number of habitable planets to 'Rare' for this galaxy: on a map of this size, any higher setting means hundreds upon hundreds of fertile worlds, and the game devolves into who can build colony ships fastest. So my homeworld of Joy, at class 10, is by far the most luxurious planet I own.
  52.  
  53. Better planets have more usable space to build stuff on, and can generally support a larger population, keep them happy, get a lot of tax revenue out of them and build a lot of factories or labs for them to work in. People increase Influence, money pays for expensive Influence starbases, factories build the many constructor-ships I'll need to build those starbases, and labs will be necessary to research how to build the most influential possible ones. In other words, more than most races, I badly needed good planets.
  54.  
  55.  
  56. So I was delighted to find Akilia, a beautiful class 15 world owned by the Akilians. The Ailians are a minor race - broadly pleasant bunches of folks dotted around the galaxy who'll happily talk and trade with you, but who'll never expand beyond their homeworld or become a major threat. For that reason, it's hilariously easy to pick on them and take everything they have.
  57.  
  58. Except, of course, if you've vowed to be peaceful. Then your options are limited. I took the closest planet I could to Akilia, and slipped a spy onto their world as soon as I could afford one. If you leave a spy on an enemy world for a few weeks without him being ousted, you learn enough about their society to know how much influence your culture is having over them. I'm going to need this tactic a lot.
  59.  
  60. That information comes back as a single number, representing how much they prefer your culture to their own. If it's less than 1, the native culture is stronger than yours. If it's 4 or greater, they absolutely love your culture and will flip to your side if it stays that way for long.
  61.  
  62. In a few weeks, the number came back: one thousand million billion. Er...
  63.  
  64. Okay, as far as I can tell, what that's really telling me is that it's not possible to take over the Akilians with cultural influence. Clearly their own Culture is pretty terrible if they prefer mine by that much - possibly it's all Celebrity Love Island - but if they were going to convert, they would have done it straight away. They haven't, so I'm forced to assume they won't.
  65.  
  66.  
  67. That rather restricts my options for peacefully taking it over. To zero. They're not likely to trade it to me, given that everything and everyone they own is on it, and I can't invade.
  68.  
  69. I tell you what would be an interesting turn of events at this point: if the Korath invaded Akilia. They could take it, easy, and they'd love to have a world so ripe. The Korath are vulnerable to cultural indoctrination, and after wiping out everyone on Akilia, they'd only have a tiny starting population. Small populations fall easily to the influence of nearby culture. If I pulled this off, I could play the two races against each other and take Akilia for myself without firing a shot.
  70.  
  71. So I call up the Korath to make my suggestion. "Smetz keala et kula drinena est tu estharwa!" they reply.
  72.  
  73. Right, I should invent a Universal Translator sometime soon.
  74.  
  75.  
  76. Day 4:Get Your Freakonomics
  77.  
  78. Once I'd invented the Babel Fish, I rang the Korath back and suggested they go to war with the Akilians. Once you've stipulated what you want from someone in GalCiv, you can keep adding deal-sweeteners until their response text turns green, indicating they'll go for it. I shared a few technologies with the Korath - including Universal Translators - and offered some pocket-change, and suddenly their evil little eyes lit up. "War? For money? We're there."
  79.  
  80. While I waited for the Korath to actually find the Akilians so they could crush them, I decided I should probably do something about the fact that my entire civilization was plummeting to certain doom. I'd decided that I wouldn't blow all my starting cash buying colony ships that I'd be able to build for free in a few weeks, so I instead jammed my production rates to their absolute maximum, making a spectacular loss each week.
  81.  
  82. Since my nest egg ran out, I'd been living in denial by finding the occasional valuable anomaly, selling the odd technology to minor races, and colonising as many new planets as possible in the hope that my population would grow faster. I was taxing my current people as much as I dared without halting their population growth entirely, and still losing astonishing, spectacular quantities of money every week.
  83.  
  84. I still had a few things left to sell, and a few nearby anomalies that might yield cash, but whatever I did would have to turn my fortunes around in just a few weeks. Even if I halted all production, my treasury would still be in freefall.
  85.  
  86. The solution was not to halt production, but to halt taxation. At a time when I was spending far more than I could afford even with 50% of 27 billion people's income dropping into my coffers, I cut off my sole source of revenue. I'd had a quick whip-around to build a small reserve of cash beforehand, and eventually I did reduce production to slow the money bleed slightly, but all the same I couldn't afford to haemorrhage at this rate for long.
  87.  
  88.  
  89. Only the races I've made contact with are shown - the orange line is us.
  90. It lasted two months. By the end of it, thanks to a 100% approval rate from my 0% tax policy, I had sixty billion people. The Spatial Hares, like their Spectral ancestors, have the Super-Breeder ability: they're four times more randy than any other race when they're happy. Thirty-two billion people had been born in seven weeks, and suddenly I had enough tax-paying chumps to foot all my bills.
  91.  
  92.  
  93. Day 5:The Two Virgins
  94.  
  95. The Korath had blasted a few Akilian vessels, but I was becoming pessimistic about their willingness to actually invade Akilia - they may not have even researched invasion technologies yet. It could be years.
  96.  
  97. Having colonised as many worlds as I could afford to maintain, I'd since switched from churning out Colony Ships to the Constructor Ships that would let me build cultural broadcasting stations around the Korath worlds.
  98.  
  99. Oh, sure, they'll resent that enormously, but they're busy warring with the Akilians - I should be fine for a while. Besides, I'm about to start researching Greater Tolerance, the final stage of the indoctrination research path I'm on: it dramatically increases your diplomacy ability to let you avoid war for longer while you spread your culture.
  100.  
  101.  
  102. On their way to Korath territory, though, my first Constructor vessel glimpsed something extraordinary: a pair of completely virgin class-15 worlds, hidden in a small unexplored patch of the territory between us and the Korath. They were much closer to the enemy than to us, though, and I was sure I'd seen Korath colony ships knocking about. So my primary reaction was panic.
  103.  
  104. It would take months to build new Colony ships and get them all the way out there now: perhaps more than a year. This is a ridiculously big galaxy, so while the Korath are nearer to me than anyone else, the journey to their territory is still an epic undertaking. I had to have these worlds, both of them, and they absolutely must not fall into Korath hands.
  105.  
  106. I'm being cheeky with the Korath at the moment, because I've found them early enough to strangle their expansion and keep them small. But if these guys make it to the big leagues, everybody dies. They won't ally, they won't negotiate, they won't stop. And if they make it far enough to research Spore ships, their chemical doomsday device, they won't leave be a single survivor left on any world they reach.
  107.  
  108. Luckily, I have a plan. Those always go well.
  109.  
  110.  
  111. Day 6:Skeleton Crew
  112.  
  113. You can upgrade your ships in Galactic Civilizations to more or less any design that's based on the same hull. They don't have to return to a spaceport to do it, either, the crews on board can actually carry out the work in a few weeks. And as luck would have it, Constructor Ships and Colony Ships are based on the same hull.
  114.  
  115. Thus, my two Constructor Ships became two Colony ships, and I snatched both worlds before the Korath knew what was happening. I named them Relief and Elation. They were beautiful.
  116.  
  117. Elation in particular is a gem: one double manufacturing site, one quadruple manufacturing site, and two double research sites: it would be the most productive world in my empire.
  118.  
  119.  
  120. Not even a native tumbleweed.
  121. If anyone was there. Populations on newly colonised planets are always pretty slim to start with, but Relief and Elation were ghost planets: 0.0 billion extant. And since population growth is proportional to current population, they would never get off the ground. What the hell happened to my colonies?
  122.  
  123. Yeah, it's probably occured to you sooner than it occured to me. These planets weren't founded by proper colony ships, they were upgraded construction vessels. You can upgrade the ship perfectly without returning to base, but you can't magic 250 million people on board. And without 250 million people, you've got a ghost planet.
  124.  
  125. I'd built two vast, almost completely empty transport craft, then tried to start a civilization on two vast, almost completely empty planets. All they had was however many people it took to man a construction vessel: probably a few hundred. And if human history is any guide, most of them are probably men. This was going to get aw-kward.
  126.  
  127.  
  128. Day 7:Ultra-Driven
  129.  
  130. Okay, this doesn't have to be a disaster. Yes, it's going to take several months to get some actual people to the only good planets in my empire, and in the meantime they're going to be costing me a bomb without doing anything useful. But as Eddie Izzard says, all you really need is a flag. I'd put my flag in these new worlds, no-one else could take them. Well, not without declaring war on me.
  131.  
  132. And you wouldn't do that, would you, genocidal warmongering xenophobic Korath Clan?
  133.  
  134. It was becoming clear the Korath would have to be culture-hugged to death sooner rather than later. My ghost worlds were sapping the strong economy I'd built up with that epic baby-boom, but if I pushed taxes to the limits I could still afford to build a few starbases. I sent out a small fleet of constructors to the Korath homeworld to surround it with stations that would broadcast my wonderful TV to the angry populace below.
  135.  
  136.  
  137. This isn't as crazy as it sounds - I figure if you live on a planet whose land is heat-charred volanic rock and whose seas run red with blood, season four of Futurama would probably cheer you up no end. Unhappy populaces are more susceptible to cultural influence from other races, because of the I'm An Oppressed Crazy Alien Get Me Out Of Here factor. Actually we probably have that show.
  138.  
  139. On my constructors' long journey out there, I got two extraordinary lucky breaks. GalCiv games shift and turn at the behest of random galaxy-wide trends and events that affect every race, for better or worse. In my case, just as I needed to travel a long distance quickly, the Ultra-Drive was invented and all ship speeds in the universe were boosted dramatically for free.
  140.  
  141. Then, as I arrived, a wave of xenophilia swept the galaxy: an unusually high level of interest in all things foreign, dramatically increasing everyone's influence on other cultures. The game was virtually handing me this on a platter. The only way this could go better is if the Korath took Akilia before I consumed them, leaving me a juicy new planet susceptible to infection.
  142.  
  143. That... didn't happen. The influence-boost ended before my constructors could get the first cultural-influence starbases up, the Korath started to recall their military forces from a distant war with the Thalans, and then, shamelessly, made peace with the Akilians. You guys worked that out, then? The war I PAID FOR? Oh good. Glad you were able to come to a peaceful resolution so soon after TAKING MY MONEY.
  144.  
  145. I ran out of cash before I could get enough starbases up to overwhelm the native culture, and a communique came in from Krindar, warlord of the Korath. "Your civilization is pathetic." Granted. "No cash to give, no techs to offer." Mostly true. "We will allow your empire to continue its feeble existence if you hand over one of your planets. Pray that I don't have any more relatives who need a vacation home."
  146.  
  147. That, that's going to be a problem.
  148.  
  149.  
  150. Day 8:Deliberations
  151.  
  152.  
  153. Rationally, his offer was not unattractive. The world he was asking for, Solidarity, was actually costing me money to run, and I badly needed to postpone a war. However vicious the race, they won't declare war just after you give in to their extortion: it would ruin their credibility when bullying other races in the future. And I could always take Solidarity back - it was deep in my territory, easy to culture-hug.
  154.  
  155. On the other hand, fuck you in your stupid beardy face you crinkle-browed alien twat.
  156.  
  157.  
  158. Day 9:Diplomatic Channels
  159.  
  160. No, you can't have Solidarity. It's called Solidarity - how likely did you think I was to give it away? I don't care that my foreign intel reports rate you as the most powerful race in the galaxy. I don't care that I come dead last on that same list. I don't care that I couldn't even fight back if I had any gunships because of a pledge to spread peace throughout the galaxy.
  161.  
  162. In fact, you know what? That's it. Your race ends this week. When I next click that 'Turn' button, you're out of the game.
  163.  
  164. Hello Akilians, small, weak, wealthy race who love me. How good am I looking to you today? 500 billion credits, would you say? Good. Hand it over.
  165.  
  166. Hello Drath, second most powerful race in the galaxy, whose territory the Korath military is currently passing through on its way back to defend their homeworld. I hear you guys are ten feet tall and win every troop battle you ever fight. How would you like to be at war the Korath, in exchange for this fine set of Spatial Hares exclusive espionage technologies and complimentary heap of money? Very much, you say? Wonderful, I bid you good day.
  167.  
  168.  
  169. Hello ladies, gentlemen and killbots of the United Planets council. I understand there's a vote this week on a new bill that would force hostile ships out of their enemy's territory as soon as they go to war? I'd just like you to know that it has my full support. And given that I control 55% of known space with my culture stations, I think you'll find that makes it law.
  170.  
  171. Hello Korath, dead race walking. Remember what you said about us having no technologies to offer? I happen to know you have a cultural influence problem on your doorstep, and I also happen to be the sole proprietor of the most powerful cultural influence technology in existence. How much would you pay for that? Your entire treasury? That'll do.
  172.  
  173. You don't know this yet, but you're about to find yourself at war with the biggest, fiercest creatures in the universe without a penny to pay for it.
  174.  
  175. And you don't know this yet, but the money you just gave me was the last I needed to construct a Krynniac Conversion Centre outside your homeworld, a cultural broadcast station thirty-six times more powerful than the best one you could build. One so powerful that your entire home solar system will be officially in my territory.
  176.  
  177. Also, you don't know this yet, but a law's about to pass that will eject any of your ships out of my territory the second you declare war on me, bumping the only vessels defending your homeworld several months' journey away from it. I'm going to take Kora, and you're going to watch, helplessly.
  178.  
  179. So no, you can't have Solidarity.
  180.  
  181.  
  182. Day 10:Peace Breaks Out
  183.  
  184. "News of the destruction of the Korath Clan spreads quickly through the galaxy."
  185.  
  186.  
  187. That's because I have such good broadcast space-stations. It didn't happen right away, of course - it took a few months for the wheels I set in motion that day to turn, for the citizens of Kora to see things my way, and the tattered remains of the Korath military fleet to return just in time to see their homeworld lost to the smugly peaceful Spatial Hares.
  188.  
  189. "The Korath Clan has become so enamored with our culture that they are fully under our control. Their last independent planet, Kora, has finally succumbed to our influence."
  190.  
  191. You know, I think this might actually work. I just took out the Korath - a race whose special ability is called "Super Annihilator". There can't be many races less susceptible to good TV shows and fine wines than that.
  192.  
  193. "Being evil in nature, all of the captains of the remaining military ships have joined up with local bands of pirates."
  194.  
  195. That means they'll attack anyone on sight, and they're lurking right outside my shiny new planets. For any other race, that'd be a bad thing. But we're peaceniks: we had no intention of fielding any military ships anyway. The net effect of being surrounded by ultra-aggressive pirates is that no-one can get near me. They're like free bodyguards. They immediately destroyed my undefended culture starbases, of course, but those were only costing me money anyway - I don't need to influence my own planets.
  196.  
  197. Since pretty much the only wars going on were the ones I engineered against the Korath, the galaxy is at peace now they're gone. The Arceans are simmering quietly to the galactic South-West, the Iconians are snapping up all the worlds too inhospitable for others to colonise from the East, the already enormous Terran empire looms to the North, the mighty Drath are scattered throughout, and I think the few robot-ridden Yor planets I can see to the North-West are just the tip of the ice-borg.
  198.  
  199. The rest - I told you this was a big game - must be somewhere out there in the black. Until you make first contact with a species, you don't see them in the galactic rankings for economy and military, so I have no idea how powerful any of the other races are right now. Not the Thalans, the Torians, the Korx, eight minor species, or - ulp - the Drengin.
  200.  
  201. But before I had time to worry about that, the entire galaxy was struck by one of the worst mega-events GalCiv can throw at you.
  202.  
  203.  
  204. Day 11:Spy Sappin' My Gentry
  205.  
  206. Spies. Freaking. Everywhere. In one week, every race found themselves infiltrated to the highest level by a mystery organisation. My worlds alone have sixteen agents on them.
  207.  
  208. This sucks for two loud, honking reasons:
  209.  
  210. 1) Spies shut down the building they've infiltrated, and they like to target financial centres and research academies, the two things I really need right now.
  211.  
  212. 2) It takes one to know one: you have to train a Spy and dispatch him to your own planet to neutralise an enemy agent. But each successive Spy you train costs dramatically more than the last, and takes even longer to churn out. Unlike the other races, I'd already used a few Spies to gather intel on how much I was influencing those Korath worlds. That means my anti-Spy Spies would cost me more than anyone's.
  213.  
  214. What's so annoying about Spies is that while they're an enormous pain to deal with, they're still not all that useful when it's you deploying them. Any half-smart enemy trains their own Spy to counter yours right away, and theirs will be cheaper and faster to train.
  215.  
  216. Huh.
  217.  
  218.  
  219. Sixteen Spies. My kingdom for a Pyro.
  220. Unless, of course, they've already got 16 other Spies to deal with. In that situation, so long as the building you infiltrated was less important than the others that needed de-Spying, your own Spy could sit there safely for months - all the time he needs to get his tendrils deep into their organisation. After that it wouldn't matter if he was caught - you'd have all the info you needed.
  221.  
  222. Spying's important if you want to take people over with your culture - and boy, do I - because it's the only way to know if you're influencing them enough that they'll eventually flip. You need a Spy on their worlds for quite a while to gather that kind of intelligence, but once you've got it, you can remove your operative and deploy him elsewhere before he's neutralised.
  223.  
  224. I could use this mass infiltration as a cover for my own, and no-one would ever know I'd done it. There's no way to tell which race an agent belongs to - strangely, considering the Drath are ten feet tall and the Yor are robots.
  225.  
  226. I was going to do the same thing as everyone else: spend an uncomfortably large sum of money to train a load of Spies - then do the exact opposite of everyone else: send them away when they've never been so badly needed at home.
  227.  
  228. It'd be longer before I could start neutralising agents on my own planets, but once I'd got what I needed from the other races, my agents there could come back and help out. The cost would actually be the same. It was so evil, it might just work.
  229.  
  230.  
  231. Day 12:Paradise Found
  232.  
  233. The whole galaxy went into hibernation. Everyone was devoting their tax income to rooting out the Spy infestation, their production powerhouses reduced to a crawl, their research labs shut down. And as the only person doing some Spying instead of shredding documents, I got lots of juicy intel.
  234.  
  235. The Iconians turned out to be frighteningly advanced. The average level of technological advancement among the known races is 100 - they were rated at 538. And strangely, they have a planet named Joy II - I thought I was the only one using happy fun names?
  236.  
  237. Oh, I am. That's the other planet in my home system, right next to my homeworld Joy. It's what GalCiv players call a 'Mars' - a habitable planet temptingly close to your starting point (Earth for humans), but of such poor quality that it's not worth colonising until you run out of good planets.
  238.  
  239. The Iconians would clearly have to die for taking it - culturally, I mean - but it's not going to be a problem. Joy's influence is immense, and Joy II will probably fall to it without my even needing to build a starbase.
  240.  
  241. But it was perusing the Terran's planets for good Spy spots that I made the real discovery. Cheli. A class 28.
  242.  
  243.  
  244. Let me put a Class 28 planet in context. Earth is a class 8. Risa, from the Star Trek series, the pleasure planet? That would be about a 15. The Fantasy Planet in Futurama, where everyone's wildest dreams come true? Maybe 18. If you go to Church every Sunday and serve God's will in all you do, you'll go to a Class 23 when you die. I'd neverseen a Class 28. Until now.
  245.  
  246. Clearly, I had to have it. Clearly, this was going to piss off the Terrans. And clearly, the Terrans weren't the right people to piss off at this point. I'm going for peace, and they're about the only race that might be up for an alliance. But the Spatial Hares have not inherited a great deal of diplomatic finesse from their ancestors, who mostly communicated by spitting, stabbing and throwing paperweights.
  247.  
  248. So at the same time, I had my people commence work on Plan B. I won't say too much about Plan B at the moment, because if it turns out I don't need it, I want to be able to pretend I was never even considering it. But let's just say that Plan A is peace.
  249.  
  250.  
  251. Day 13:Pushing It
  252.  
  253. As every productive planet in my empire sent a constructor ship in the direction of Cheli, I opened a channel to the Terrans and proposed a deal. I wanted to establish an economic treaty between us, because civilizations are more reluctant to go to war with a treaty-buddy: it plays havoc on your reputation with the other species.
  254.  
  255.  
  256. The Spy plague must have hit the Terrans even harder than me, because president Jenna Casey jumped at the offer. In fact, she was willing to pay most of her current treasury to secure the extra trickle of income it would provide.
  257.  
  258. I banked it gladly: I'd need some cash to set up my culture starbases around Cheli. You know, so that I could steal it from her, bankrupting her economy and boosting mine. And goading her into a war that would ruin her race's reputation for honor and diplomacy. Hey, don't look at me like that. I'm being peaceful. This is how peace gets done. It's not all fair like love and war.
  259.  
  260. I'm not sure what the Terran AI thought as its Heavy Fighters passed my constructor fleet on its way into their empire, but they didn't stop us. Soon the skies of Cheli were black with constructors - I wanted them all present before I began building, so that the finished starbases would spend as little time as possible in Terran space before Cheli converted to my side.
  261.  
  262. So within a week, three of the most powerful culture-spreading influence starbases the galaxy has ever known were operational around the most productive, lucrative and profitable planet in the region.
  263.  
  264. Within two weeks, the Terrans were bullying me for money. Oh, they phrased it more politely than the Korath did, "Friend, our peace keeping efforts throughout the galaxy are expensive. We need you to help contribute to this by transferring 537bc from your treasury to ours." But come on, Jenna, I've had Nigerian prince spam more subtle than that. For making me laugh, I will permit your race to live another year. But I'm still taking Cheli.
  265.  
  266. In five weeks, the Terrans declared war on me.
  267.  
  268. In eight weeks, Cheli flipped to my control.
  269.  
  270. In ten, the Dread Lords arrived.
  271.  
  272.  
  273. Day 14:Woe To All
  274.  
  275.  
  276. That's how the game phrases it: "Woe to all. The Dread Lords have arrived and they mean to retake this galaxy." Remember when I mentioned the Spy plague being one of the worst things that GalCiv can throw at you? This is worse. This is in the top three worst possible things that can ever happen.
  277.  
  278. The Dread Lords are what GalCiv 2 is about, ultimately: an ancient race of godlike super-beings with technologies twice as advanced as any modern race. They're the villains of the single-player campaign, but very rarely they'll also show up in one-off matches like this one. It's never happened to me before, but what I've read on forums is not good. Quitting and deleting your savegames not-good.
  279.  
  280. It's going to be tough, perhaps impossible, to stick to my pacifism when I meet these guys face to face. I'm guessing billion-year-old deathgods aren't vulnerable to Will & Grace re-runs.
  281.  
  282. From what I've heard, they start with one world and are fairly easy to take over, but once they start churning out ships, they are of a kind yours can never hope to match. They rip through whole armadas, purge entire galaxies. And unfortunately, there's not much I can do to stop it: even if I abandoned my peaceful principles, I couldn't research and build a military from scratch and get it to the Dread Lords in time. Apart from anything, I don't know where they are.
  283.  
  284. I should probably address that, at least - I have a few scout ships, and I'm still worried that I haven't run into the Drengin. They're not high on my "Things that are about to destroy me" list right now - the Terrans and Dread Lords monopolise that - but I'd very much like to know what they're up to, and perhaps make a start on culture-hugging them to death.
  285.  
  286. On the rapidly shrinking bright side, Cheli - which I've renamed Ecstasy - is coming along beautifully. The class number of a planet refers to how many structures you can build on it, so I'm nowhere close to colonising it fully. But I've already made turned it into a productive, profitable and deleriously happy world, which means its population growth is lustfully high.
  287.  
  288. Which is just as well, because I'm pretty sure the Terrans are about to invade my brains out.
  289.  
  290.  
  291. Day 15:The Terrans Invade My Brains Out
  292.  
  293. Constructors and starbases are exploding all across the galaxy. I have builder vessels and cultural outposts everywhere, and the Terrans have killer fleets of death everywhere. I can't fight back, for both practical and moral reasons, but I think the Korath would tell you that pissing me off like this is not wise, Jenna Casey. If they still existed. Although that would mean I hadn't eradicated them, which I have, so they probably wouldn't tell you that. Or even talk to you - the Korath hate humans. Not as much as they hate me, though, because of how I eradicated them.
  294.  
  295. When the Terrans declared war, Terran and Spatial Hare ships all across the galaxy were bumped wildly all over the place because of that law I passed: no ships are allowed in enemy territory when war breaks out. That gave planet Ecstasy a brief reprieve from the inevitable human attacks, but now they were in full swing.
  296.  
  297.  
  298. Eh, I like my chances.
  299. Troop transport after troop transport brought invasion after invasion, killing billions upon billions. My randy reproductive rates could recover the damage quickly, but the Terran troop transports came quicker still. Sometimes even space-rabbits just can't screw fast enough.
  300.  
  301. I'm all for non-aggression, of course, but as far as I'm concerned a billion of my people dying violent deaths is every bit as un-peaceful as us killing a billion of theirs. And we were doing that too - there's no option to stop your citizens resisting an invasion. This was not peace by anyone's standards, and it had to stop.
  302.  
  303. So I stood up dramatically in my war room - or 'bedroom' - slammed my fist down on the conference table - or 'keyboard' - and ordered my assembled generals - or 'PC' - to:
  304.  
  305. "Activate... Plan B."
  306.  
  307. "Sir, are you sure?" no-one said, as I adjusted my uniform - or 'underpants'.
  308.  
  309. "Dammit, no-one, I'm sure as I'll ever be."
  310.  
  311.  
  312. Day 16:Plan B
  313.  
  314. Here's a fun fact: if our sun went supernova tonight - i.e., while we're on the opposite side of the world - it would appear to be brilliant daylight outside. If it was a full moon, we'd actually burn to death in the moonlight. All while the other side of the planet boiled into space at over a hundred metres of rock per second. It would be, by all accounts, a rough night.
  315.  
  316. So around the time I struck an economic treaty with Jenna Casey, Phase One of plan B was just coming into fruition. Once I had my culture starbases surrounding Cheli, Phase Two was nearly complete. Shortly after the Dread Lords turned up, we put Phase Three to bed. By the time Phase Four finished, the Terran war was in full swing. And now it's complete.
  317.  
  318. Something that's always bothered me about Star Wars is the nomenclature. A Star Destroyer can't destroy stars - it can't even destroy planets. That's done by the Death Star, which sounds like it's in some way comparable to a star but in fact isn't even big enough to be a moon. Everything's a few orders of magnitude out of whack.
  319.  
  320. Plan B isn't a Death Star. It's not something that destroys planets. It's something that destroys stars.
  321.  
  322.  
  323. GalCiv names them Terror Stars: vast spherical space stations that can drift from system to system with a forboding slowness, detonating stars like gaming's biggest exploding barrels. The resulting supernova annihilates every planet and ship in the solar system, leaving only a few asteroid belts composed of the detritus. But like everything else you build, you can always give it your own name. I call mine the Starfucker Extreme.
  324.  
  325. But there's a big difference between owning something that can destroy stars, and actually destroying one. The best weapon, after all, is one you only have to fire once. That's how Tony Stark did it, that's how his father did it, and that's how the Spatial Hares will do it. Unfortunately, I don't think the AI pays any attention to what happens to uninhabited worlds, so nuking Bikini Atoll wasn't going to cut it. In order to ensure I'd never need to use the Starfucker Extreme on a real planet, I had to use it on a real planet.
  326.  
  327. Of course, I already knew a way to do that - I told you all about it on Day 6. The two ghost worlds I accidentally created, by colonising them with empty colony ships. I could do the same again here, and end up with an almost entirely empty world that still counts as an owned planet. It would be myalmost-entirely-empty-world, of course, so I'd have to give it to the Terrans first - perhaps for a tidy price - then immediately destroy it to terrify them.
  328.  
  329. And to think, they called me crazy.
  330.  
  331.  
  332. Day 17:Several Voices Crying Out At Once, Suddenly Silenced
  333.  
  334. Here's why I love GalCiv. As I say, I needed a planet to fake-colonise, pretend to give away, then notionally destroy. At first I had my heart set on one nice and close to the Terrans, but when I saw a single radioactive world in a tiny backwater system miles from anyone, I knew it had to be that one.
  335.  
  336. I'd have to research a whole new technology to colonise it, it would take my Starfucker Extreme months to get there, and it wasn't on anyone's doorstep, but it had to be this one.
  337.  
  338. Why? Because it's called Alderan.
  339.  
  340.  
  341. Alderan I, to be precise: there's an Alderan II, which is barren, and then the sun, which is Alderan itself. This, ladies and gentlealiens, is what I'll be destroying. And by extension, so is everything else in this solar system.
  342.  
  343. It takes me six weeks to research the colonisation technology I need to set up shop on Alderan, with a converted Constructor Ship holding the usual skeleton crew of '0.0 billion' people. Of course, in theory that could be 49 milllion people and it would still be 0.0 billion to one decimal place - making me ten times worse than Hitler - but I choose not to believe that. I reckon it only takes a few hundred to man a Constructor ship, and on GalCiv's scale that's not a number that even computes.
  344.  
  345. Heartbreakingly, Alderan turns out to be a wonderful world: it has a Precursor Ruin that octuples all research taking place in the region, which would be a huge boon for my empire. But we don't need research right now, we need action, and if you're going to explode a planet with a giant spherical space-station of death, it has to be Alderan. It just has to be.
  346.  
  347. So, I open up a channel to the Terrans and hand it over. I tested their willingness to pay me for it - though I realised being at war with them probably wouldn't get me preferred customer rates. It turned out they were willing to go as high as 1bc, the smallest possible unit of currency. I took it grudgingly, then activated the Death Beam.
  348.  
  349. "No!" Jenna Casey completely neglected to say. "You can't possibly! Alderan is peaceful, we have no weapons!"
  350.  
  351. You're far too trusting, Princess Casey. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration. Well, actually Alderan is, but I'm destroying it anyway because it'll be funny.
  352.  
  353. Commence primary ignition.
  354.  
  355.  
  356. Day 18:What's Gonna Happen
  357.  
  358.  
  359. So the Terrans wouldn't talk to me for a while after that. My requests for negotiations were refused due to recent hostilities. Understandable, really, but before long they'll come begging for peace.
  360.  
  361. After a few months, they took my call.
  362.  
  363. "Ho ho, Spatial Hares." She was taking this well. "So pathetic. So predictable. Sure, you want us to make peace right?"
  364.  
  365. Er, yes. Here you go, I offer: Peace.
  366.  
  367. "Not gonna happen."
  368.  
  369. Ookay. How about peace and a few hundred billion credits?
  370.  
  371. "Not gonna happen."
  372.  
  373. Fine, screw you guys. Be doomed. But just hypothetically, if I gave you all my technologies, trade goods, money, ships and planets, would you go for Peace then?
  374.  
  375. "Let me put it this way: not on your life."
  376.  
  377. Alright you mewling hairless bipeds, you know what happened to the last race who called us pathetic? They're not dead, oh no, it's worse than that. They're still sitting there on Kora I, drooling into their bibs, getting trashed on Spatial Hares-brand Listerine and watching Kora's Got Talent, five nights a week.
  378.  
  379.  
  380. So I've got a new offer. You get your filthy monkey face off my goddamn screen and I send my star-destroying death station to another little planet, called Earth. You don't want peace? Fine. When you're begging for it from an escape ship rocketing through the strata of white-hot asteroids that were once your home system, you're going to find three words coming back to haunt you:
  381.  
  382. Not.
  383.  
  384. Gonna.
  385.  
  386. Happen.
  387.  
  388.  
  389. Day 19:What The Drengin Were Doing
  390.  
  391. On my way to destroy the Earth, I finally got some news about the Drengin. It was - predictably by now - very bad.
  392.  
  393.  
  394. "The evil Drengin Empire have become so desperate to conquer the galaxy that they have done something monstrous." Yada yada crystal yada ancient yada, "They have sacrificed millions of their own citizens to use their life force to feed this crystal. The crystal, in turn, is giving their leaders immense power to build, manufacture and research."
  395.  
  396. Oh good. Look, can we just have a show of hands: who isn't about to become an unstoppable superpower if I don't destroy them soon?
  397.  
  398. The peace-war with the Terrans would have to wait. I had to get to Drengin space right away. The Dread Lords might be fearsome, but they start from a single planet. If I know the Drengin, their empire would be huge by now, and they're among the most productive races even when they're not turbo-charged by crystal steroids. In order of priority, the three things I desperately needed to do were:
  399.  
  400. 1. Befriend the Drengin, the most hostile race in the galaxy.
  401.  
  402. 2. Destroy the Dread Lords, the most powerful race in the galaxy.
  403.  
  404. 3. Terrify the Terrans, who find me laughable.
  405.  
  406. Luckily, all three of these objectives required the same thing. Unluckily, it was the one thing I didn't have: a mighty military.
  407.  
  408. The Drengin love anyone they can't destroy: they hate you right up until you could take them, whereupon they show a previously unseen sunny side to their disposition. I wouldn't need to fight them, I just had to build something capable of it.
  409.  
  410. The Dread Lords would be tough, but hopefully few. If I construct large fleets of powerful but unarmoured ships, enough of them should get hits in on whatever the Dread Lords can throw at me to wear them down. Alternatively, I could just blow up their whole solar system with the Starfucker Extreme.
  411.  
  412. If I can do both of those, the Terrans will fall in line. I want them begging me for peace. Not so that we can actually have peace, but so I can laugh in their face before I destroy them.
  413.  
  414.  
  415. Day 20:Three Years Later
  416.  
  417.  
  418. Well, I found the Drengin. And the other half of the galaxy. It turns out our little pissing contest between the Korath, Terrans and Drath was just the junior league - the real players were quietly dominating the rest of the galaxy, bursting with fertile planets and precious resources. The Drengin were bigger than the Terrans, the Dread Lords were more powerful than either, and supreme kings of the hill were... The Korx?
  419.  
  420. The Korx? The trader guys? In Star Trek terms, these are the Ferengi - a rather minor, obsessively materialistic race who usually wheel, deal and stay out of everyone's way. Except, apparently, when they decide to dominate the galaxy.
  421.  
  422. I opted to stay on their good side. As I explored the rest of the galaxy, it became clear that their empire was so huge that even if I could beat them, it would take five years just to conquer all these worlds. So I plied them with useless but valuable technologies every few months. It kept our relations 'warm' but frustratingly they never escalated to 'close', which is what we'd need to be to form an Alliance.
  423.  
  424. Failure to flirt with the fatcats was the least of my problems, though. For three solid years, the Terrans had done nothing but invade Ecstasy, and the death toll was outpacing my birthrates. When I stole this planet, its nearby uglier sister also flipped to my side, but the Terrans have left that alone.
  425.  
  426. That turned out to be the key to keeping Ecstasy. I bought a Colony ship on Support, its sister planet, and launched it with 250 million people aboard. Since Support and Ecstasy are just one parsec apart, it could then land on Ecstasy without having to move a single tile. So then I could launch it again, this time with a bare minimum skeleton crew, and land it back on support. 249 million people transferred.
  427.  
  428. The reason this worked, despite that being a puny number next to Ecstasy's 22 billion capacity, and despite swarms of Terran ships poised to destroy anything I constructed, was that it all happened infinitely fast. No part of the process counted as an action, and there was no travel involved, so the colony ship could zip back and forth as many times as I liked within a single turn. And since Support went entirely unharassed, it could regenerate its population in peace while billions of its emigrants died in agony on Ecstasy. It was perfect.
  429.  
  430. Of course, thanks to the Terran invasions, I'd never actually had Ecstasy at full capacity before. And even though it had every one of the most powerful approval-boosting buildings in the galaxy, including the one-off Galactic Wonder The Oracle, 22 billion people just don't fit comfortably on one planet. So while it was now all but impervious to invasion, Ecstasy had become the most miserable place in the galaxy.
  431.  
  432. I decided not to worry about that. I'd averted the most immediate disaster, now it was time to deal with the most immediate threat: The Dread Lords.
  433.  
  434.  
  435. Day 21:Peace Bees
  436.  
  437. It turned out the Dread Lords' power was not the biggest problem, it was their size. They were tiny. I couldn't find the damn things.
  438.  
  439. They only own one planet, and I don't believe they ever expand, so while I'd occasionally glimpse one of their ships streaking through Drengin space, I had no idea where they were based. I'd explored almost the entire galaxy, but this was a microscopic space-needle in a macrocosmic space-haystack.
  440.  
  441. When I finally found them, I laughed. They were tucked into the extreme West corner of the galaxy, hedged in by the entire Drengin empire. The two had clearly been at each other's throats the whole time: the Drengin had even invested in ballistic armour, which is designed to protect against mass driver weapons, the type the Dread Lords use.
  442.  
  443.  
  444. This is a Dread Lords constructor, and even it has more guns than most race's fighters.
  445. Not that it did them much good. When a Dread Lord ship finally settled in sensor range, tactical analysis revealed 302 Mass Drivers. Those are Black Hole Gun numbers. The toughest possible hull type, a battleship chassis so enormous you need the technology to bend spacetime just to hold it together, has less than 100 hitpoints. So even if you can block two thirds of this thing's damage, you're still getting one-shotted.
  446.  
  447. I had to build a starbase in the middle of nowhere to extend my ship's range far enough to reach the Dread Lord planet. My plan was to sneak along the edge of the galactic map with a fleet of constructors, get a Terror Star up as quickly as possible, then dash in to destroy their sun.
  448.  
  449. But that plan changed when, incredibly, I found an uninhabited planet right behind theirs. I converted three of my constructor ships to colony vessels and made a three-pronged lunge for it. They were completely defenceless, of course, but if I spread them out I could make it impossible for the one Dread Lords ship to intercept them all.
  450.  
  451. No, no I couldn't. One Dread Lord ship intercepted them all, then it intercepted all my constructors, then it found my starbase and blew that up too. These things were fast. I was going to have to fight.
  452.  
  453. Thus was born the Peace Bee. It's a small, fast, cheap ship with two banks of photonic torpedos. It's so named because it's designed to die when it stings: it has very few hitpoints and no defense against Mass Drivers at all.
  454.  
  455. One-shotting an enemy, as the Dread Lords always will, is less impressive when there are ten enemies in a fleet and they're all pelting you with deadly missiles. Dread Lord ships are powerful, but they're not tough, and all their defenses are against lasers. I'm not going to use lasers.
  456.  
  457. Soon I had swarms of Peace Bees, and they shredded the lonely Dread Lord defenders exactly as planned. I even held them at bay long enough to colonise the remote planet behind them - which I named Peace - and finally build a Terror Star - which I named Starfucker Supreme.
  458.  
  459. I was just about to destroy the Dread Lords' entire solar system when it happened.
  460.  
  461.  
  462. Day 22: Flashpoint
  463.  
  464. In almost every match of GalCiv, there seems to be a point when the galaxy just explodes. Relations collapse, aggressions flare, alliances break and the whole thing goes to hell. That's what happened.
  465.  
  466.  
  467. You're telling me! I'd add that it has no sense, decency or logic.
  468. The Drengin declared war on me. They say they don't much like the ally I'm at war with, but they do like their money. Jenna Casey, I will burn you alive for this. The Iconians then declare war on me, screeching that "Your war with the Drengin has no merit."
  469.  
  470. That set off a cascade of hostility that ripped the galaxy apart. The Korx declared war on the Iconians; the Yor declared war on the Korx; the Terrans declared war on the Yor; and the Drath declared war on the Snathi - a minor race of tiny, harmless bunnies. The Drath, you'll recall, are the ten-foot tall super-soldiers. Classy, guys.
  471.  
  472. The galaxy was sent into utter chaos: that absurd law I passed bumped everyone's ships out of everyone else's territory, where they inevitably bumped into each other and blew each other up.
  473.  
  474. I have more worlds than I can count, and all are utterly undefended against troop transports, but I can't care about that right now. However dangerous the galaxy is, and however idiotic everyone else is being, I have to save everyone's asses and take out the Dread Lords.
  475.  
  476. Their annihilation is instant: Starfucker Supreme rises high above their sun, the Death Beam lenses align, and the Dread Lords' only planet is shredded into rock chunks by the resulting supernova. Their entire race is eradicated from the game.
  477.  
  478. The Starfucker Extreme had been my last, best hope for peace. It failed. But now the Starfucker Supreme had become something greater: my last, best hope for victory.
  479.  
  480. No need to thank me for saving the galaxy, guys, I'm sure you'll make it up to me by killing billions of my people for spurious reasons.
  481.  
  482.  
  483. Day 23: All Yor Base Are Belong To Us
  484.  
  485. I tried for peace, I really did. I was almost nice to some races. Not the Korath, who I consumed, or the Terrans, whose planet I destroyed, or the Iconians, whose homeworld I stole, or even really the Drengin, whose entire galactic influence was nearly eclipsed by my own starbases until they blew them up just now. But as far as I can recall I never actually punched anyone's children, set light to their royal family or shot their dog, and that's real progress for me.
  486.  
  487. The war tore through my empire mercilessly. My worlds got invaded by everyone. I lost planets to the Drengin and the Terrans, lost billions of people defending them against the Iconians, and lost dozens of ships before they could form into fleets to fight back.
  488.  
  489. The only people who weren't at war with me were the money-loving Korx, the towering Drath and the robotic Yor. I tried again to strike up an alliance with the Korx, but again only got as far as 'Friendly'. I suspect they won't ally with anyone less powerful than them, and since they're the most powerful race in the galaxy, that's going to be a lonely road.
  490.  
  491.  
  492. Relations with the Yor were surprisingly positive, considering I culture-hugged one of their worlds into flipping to my side a year ago. They jump at the offer of an alliance, and even pay me for the honour. Then, the very next turn, news breaks that Yor have surrendered under the onslaught of the Terran army. To me, you'd assume, their trusted new ally who was kind to them in their hour of need. But no, they lefteverything to the Drath.
  493.  
  494. Then, oh joy, the Drath held a secret meeting with the other races and decided that I was being too warlike, something had to be done, and that something was declaring war on me. "We could be next," they rationalised.
  495.  
  496. You are next, you ten foot twats! You're next in a long line of imbeciles spontaneously attacking me for the crime of being attacked! I'm starting to think the Drath are just racist against rabbits - first the Snathi, now me, who next? Bugs?
  497.  
  498. The more I thought about it, the more this came down to just one person and one planet. Jenna Casey could never accept that I took Ecstasy, and every other war since has been of her Machiavellian engineering.
  499.  
  500. And just as I thought of this, the Terrans invaded my homeworld. This put me in the best possible mood to design new ships: furious.
  501.  
  502.  
  503. Day 24: THE JOY BRINGER
  504.  
  505.  
  506. It's over a thousand metres wide, and composed of two skyscraper hulls connected by a bridge. From each, a claw three times the size of the Eiffel Tower protudes, a tech-two Photon Torpedo launcher mounted on each talon. And it is, thanks to a highly advanced technology obtained from my fellow space-rabbits the Snathi, almost invulnerable to lasers - the Terrans' only weapons.
  507.  
  508. Its name must always be roared in a guttural voice, or written in all-capitals. It is THE JOY BRINGER. Worry not, puny Earthlings. You'll be at peace soon. You'll all be at peace soon.
  509.  
  510. The war with the Drengin was going better: I'd added larger Peace Wasps to my swarms of Peace Bees, and they were beating every Drengin fleet they fought.
  511.  
  512. In view of that, I opened a channel to the Drengin. Would they stop now? After a little bargaining, they decided that for a few thousand coins, they would. There was an economic boom on anyway, so I sealed the deal and moved on to the Iconians. Guys, the Drengin just backed down. Do you really want to keep fighting the war they're too scared to continue? No? How much would you pay to make it stop? A few thousand?
  513.  
  514. The Drath, meanwhile, had swamped my worlds near their territory, destroyed all my starbases in the area, and were picking on my constructors when my first Peace Wasp showed up. They had somewhere in the region of a hundred and twenty fleets of four to five Heavy Fighters in the immediate vicinity. One Peace Wasp obliterated them all.
  515.  
  516.  
  517. You see, the poor Drath are a little backwards. Big, but dumb. Their ships were caveman stuff, and they simply had no idea how far beyond them my technology had progressed. As I smashed their armadas five ships at a time, I'd periodically open communications with them and offer them peace. Every time they'd beg for it, apologise profusely for starting the war, and I'd add more and more of their cash to their side of the trade window to see how much it was worth to them. Then I'd cancel the trade, destroy another thirty-five of their ships, and ask them again.
  518.  
  519. I guess I'm sort of a dick.
  520.  
  521. It got to the stage where their ships weren't even fighting anymore, they were running. But I was faster than them too, and hounded them across the galaxy until we reached their homeworld. Finally, when the wreckage of over seven hundred Drath ships hung in the ether and the rest of their armada fled from their own homeworld, I asked them one last time how much they'd pay for peace.
  522.  
  523. Everything. Eight trillion credits, every penny they had. I took it and closed the channel.
  524.  
  525. Now, Drath, what have we learned about attacking nice little rabbits? Doesn't always work out, does it? Sometimes destroys your entire civilization, doesn't it? Now be good little ten-foot super-soldiers and stop being so cocking racist.
  526.  
  527. The entire galaxy was now at peace with me except the Terrans, and construction on the first JOY BRINGER was complete.
  528.  
  529. I didn't ask them what they'd pay for peace. I knew exactly what they were going to pay.
  530.  
  531.  
  532.  
  533. Day 25: The Age Of Ascent
  534.  
  535. The main reason I asked for peace with the Drengin when I did - and swallowed my pride enough to pay for it - was that an extremely important and defenceless ship of mine had just bumped into the largest cluster of their fleets. I needed them to let it pass.
  536.  
  537. It was an exploration vessel called the GCU WTFIIYF (WHERE THE FUCK IS IT YOU FUCKS? - give yourself a biscuit if you know what the GCU stands for). Its hull is loaded with nothing but long-range sensors and tech-two Warp Drives. It was custom-built to probe the last few murky corners of this galaxy in search of one of the Drengin's two Ascension starbases, before they became gods and destroyed us all.
  538.  
  539. Ascension starbases have to be built on crystals that contain some kind of otherworldly power that takes a thousand weeks to unlock - half that if you have two. Of course, if the Drengin ever did ascend to a higher plane of existence, they'd find a certain other race up there waiting to gouge their godly eyes out, but that doesn't change the fact that we'd all be screwed.
  540.  
  541. As you can probably tell from this ship's name, I'd been searching for one of these for quite some time. And even now that I had this super-fast, super-sensitive deep-space explorer vessel, I scoured 98% of the galaxy without finding either.
  542.  
  543.  
  544. Then, doing a final lawn-mower pass of the extreme Northern edge of the galactic map, I found it. The time bomb I'd been searching for for a year. As I say, GCU WTFIIYF was nothing but engines and sensors, so I had to upgrade it to something with weapons to take this thing out.
  545.  
  546. I went for a Dreadnought, since it was cheapest, and waited the agonising three weeks for the conversion to complete. Unfortunately, it turns out Dreadnoughts have a shorter range than scout vessels. More unfortunately, it turns out that range ran out exactly one parsec short of the Drengin Ascension crystal.
  547.  
  548. It cost me four trillion credits and three more agonising weeks to regrade the ship to something with both the weapons and range to reach and destroy the starbase. Conveniently the Drengin declared war on me in that time, so destroying their starbase won't count as unwarranted aggression.
  549.  
  550. Hang on, they WHAT?
  551.  
  552.  
  553. Day 26: War And Peace
  554.  
  555. I can't believe I fell for it. I pull this trick on other races all the time. "Peace? That'll be three trillion credits please. Thanks. But now that I've bought a three-trillion credit battleship and moved my troop transports into position, I declare war." The one time I decide to be nice, I blunder straight into the exact same trap. Never pay for peace.
  556.  
  557. Very well, Drengin. Like a misbehaving child you have proven yourself incapable of handling responsibility and now, also like a misbehaving child, I have to kill you. Screw peace, I'm blowing up your suns.
  558.  
  559. I finally caught a break in the war, too - remember those Drath ships that fled in terror from my Peace Wasp? It turns out they headed straight for the Korx dominion and got stuck in. That strike was the first real blow they've dealt the Korx in a war that's been raging nearly the entire game, and the dent it put in their military put them momentarily below me in the grand power rankings.
  560.  
  561. I seized the moment, and sure enough, they were amenable to an Alliance at last. Not without a few deal-sweeteners, but I added a Life Support tech I needed to their end of the bargain, and it ended up pretty reasonable. 26 days in, I'd made my first real progress towards peace: the biggest race in the game was now on my side.
  562.  
  563. The Drengin had finally figured out that I had a space-station the size of a moon that could destroy suns, inching ominiously towards their home system of Drengia. They sent everything they had.
  564.  
  565.  
  566. The Drengin were fielding Blobs: vast armadas of small squads that move together in one tight clump, so that when they attack, they attack thirty times at once. The ideal counter to that is one large ship with a lot of defense, to prevent permanent losses, but I didn't have that. In reponse to the Dread Lords threat, I'd gone for almost the precise opposite.
  567.  
  568. But my peace swarms had become a lot tougher since we last crossed missiles. The Peace Wasp is fitted with modules that boost every other ship in its fleet, and when that's six or seven Peace Bees, the resulting swarm is fearsome.
  569.  
  570. In slaying three Blobs of thirty four-ship fleets each, my primary swarm lost only a single Peace Bee. The Drengin armada shredded itself on me like a bag of shrews in a blender, and Starfucker Supreme continued its steady approach to Drengia.
  571.  
  572.  
  573. Day 27: Star Destroyer
  574.  
  575. his is the continuation of my diary of the largest, longest possible game of Galactic Civilizations 2: Twilight of the Arnor. I set out to bring peace to the galaxy, but since the first entry on this page is going to be called "Star Destroyer", I think you can probably tell how well that went.
  576.  
  577. This diary was originally published as a free book with the October 2008 issue of PC Gamer UK. It's so preposterously long that our content management system can't handle it in a single post, so from Day 27 onwards it will continue here.
  578.  
  579. Jump to the latest entry.
  580.  
  581.  
  582. Day 27: Star Destroyer
  583.  
  584. It's never polite to annihilate a race's home system, but destroying Drengia wasn't the crippling blow I needed to deal. The Telenanth - that life-eating crystal giving them exponentially greater power - had finally kicked in. One of their worlds had nothing on it but torture-based entertainment facilities, and without a single factory it was producing ships faster than any other race's most productive world.
  585.  
  586. You can imagine what their factory-world was like. Even with three Peace Swarms looming over it, it churned out more battleships than I had time to fight. Cultural takeover would be impossible with that much military presence, so it had to be kept in check until I could build a new Terror Star in the vicinity.
  587.  
  588. During the last economic boom, everyone made money except me. I lost some 200 billion credits a week. I was putting it all, and more, into espionage, to build up an agency of Spies to dwarf the mass-infiltration of Day 11 - precisely for a rainy day like this. After checking the Drengin were virtually broke, I dispatched my operatives. In a single turn, every factory on their manufacturing capital planet shut down.
  589.  
  590. While Starfucker Omega was constructed in the Drengin constellation, I sent fleets of constructors to start work on two others: Starfucker Prime went up in Ecstasy space, ready to rip through the Terran empire, and Starfucker Pro was built deep in Drath territory - relations between us were plummeting, and I needed a contingency plan.
  591.  
  592. And yet it wasn't until my nearly-operational Death Star (I mean Terror Star) was destroyed by a single plucky X-Wing (I mean Terran Fighter with X-shaped wings) that I stopped to think. Wow, am I the bad guy here?
  593.  
  594. God, look at me. This was supposed to be my quest for peace, and I've become addicted to destroying suns.
  595.  
  596.  
  597. Destroying a sun.
  598. It's my answer to everything. How did I try to mend relations with the Terrans? I destroyed a sun. How did I vanquish the Dread Lords? I destroyed their sun. How did I tackle the volatile Drengin? Destroyed all their suns. Drath relations dodgy? Gear up to destroy some suns.
  599.  
  600. It was spreading to real life, too. Deputy Editor Tim called just now to ask how this diary was coming along, and all I could say was "It's taking a while. Couldn't we just destroy the sun?"
  601.  
  602. My one nod to diplomacy, researching the Greater Tolerance technology, was really just a ploy to keep people buttered up long enough that I could build sun-destroyers outside all their suns - and then destroy all their suns.
  603.  
  604. Mercifully, I was distracted from my mid-war ethics crisis by a problem I couldn't solve by destroying suns.
  605.  
  606.  
  607. Day 28: A Delicate Situation
  608.  
  609. Starfucker Omega steamrolled half the remaining Drengin power base, and Starfucker Supreme arrived just in time to plough through the other. That problem really could be solved by destroying suns.
  610.  
  611. But that wasn't the last of the Drengin. They still had one world: Andromeda IV. The problem: the Korx own Andromeda V.
  612.  
  613. There's no way to blow it up without blowing up the Korx world, there's no way to blow up the Korx world without breaking my alliance with them, and there's no way to break my alliance with them and survive. As powerful as I've become, they still dwarf me.
  614.  
  615. My first thought was to try to persuade the Korx to part with it - if they traded it to me, I could give it to the Drengin then immediately blow up the sun: my number one favourite tactic. But after some strained negotiations, it became clear that they wouldn't trade any of their planets for any price: even all of my planets. I'm not sure why I even offered that.
  616.  
  617. I would have to do this the hard way: television. At first I tried to build broadcast stations just out of range of any Drengin ships that could lunge from the Andromeda's orbit to attack them, so that I'd always have one turn in which to intercept and destroy any sabotage attempts. But these turned out to have woefully poor influence at that range, so I had to do it the even harder way: close range television.
  618.  
  619.  
  620. I built just one, fully upgraded and entirely weaponless cultural broadcast station one parsec away from Andromeda. Between it and their planet, a fleet of PEACE BRINGERS: an all-new ship design bristling with more guns than anything in the galaxy. In theory a sneaky Drengin ship could take a detour and still destroy the station before I could react, but their hubris got the better of them: every ship they launched attacked my fleet first, and was crushed.
  621.  
  622. They were doomed, even if they wouldn't admit it yet. I had 25 times their cultural influence over Andromeda IV, and they couldn't get out of orbit on their only world. But I could think of one final ignomy I could inflict to rub it in. I opened a channel.
  623.  
  624. "It seems this war was a mistake on our part," Lord Kona mutters.
  625. "Peace, you say? That'll be three trillion credits please.".
  626.  
  627.  
  628. Day 29: Problems
  629.  
  630. Finally, the Drengin admitted defeat and gave their last world to the Drath. Shortly after, it flipped to my side. Racially, the people down there were still Drengin, they just went from watching Drengin gladiator fights to Drath limbo contest to Spatial Hares sitcoms.
  631.  
  632. I was still left with a few problems.
  633.  
  634. Problem 1: My rebuilt Starfucker Prime was merrily destroying Terran suns in the galactic South when two troop transports came out of nowhere and took nearby Iconia IV. The trouble is, I own Iconia V, and it's a pretty nice place. For once, I don't want to destroy the sun.
  635.  
  636. Solution 1: I was just readying a fleet of culture-constructors when two more troop transports shot out of the black and took Iconia V. That simplified things. I blew up the sun.
  637.  
  638. Problem 2: The detour to do that leaves Starfucker Prime over a year's journey from Earth. At this point it would actually be quicker to build a new fleet of constructors and make a whole new Terror Star at Ecstasy.
  639.  
  640. Solution 2: Do that.
  641.  
  642. Problem 3: The Iconians, who have worlds scattered all across the galaxy and would be a pain in the arse to destroy, have come to me asking for help in their fight against the... Korx. My allies. I want to be nice to strike up an alliance, but I don't know if this will risk my much more important treaty with the Korx.
  643.  
  644. Solution 3: Give them 200bc - peanuts. A few turns later, they declare their situation hopeless and, in gratitude for my help, leave all their highly profitable worlds to me. Score!
  645.  
  646.  
  647. Problem 4: In a bizarre random event, the leader of the Drath was shot by an angry worker while visiting one of my worlds. The Drath declare war!
  648.  
  649. Solution 4: I blow up one of their suns. The Drath request peace!
  650.  
  651. Problem 5: Even without that sun, the Drath are huge, and they hate me. I don't think they'll be declaring war again any time soon, but they're making an alliance impossible.
  652.  
  653. Solution 5: Let me think about this. I know:
  654.  
  655. Blow up all of their suns.
  656.  
  657.  
  658. Day 30: Solution 5
  659.  
  660. I'd set every world producing armed constructor vessels for over a year now. The galaxy was thick with them. I diverted six-ship clusters to each major constellation of Drath stars and started to build a Terror Star at each. We weren't at war yet, so they were safe from attack while they mobilised.
  661.  
  662.  
  663. All except one. Starfucker 9000. It was the last to start construction, and the closest to Terran territory. You see where this is going. I had PEACE BRINGERS on their way to defend it, but none were as close as the Terran battleship that had just burst from the unknown on a beeline for my newly completed defenceless star-killer.
  664.  
  665. I'd destroyed every Terran system except Earth's, but Starfucker Prime was still too far from Sol to eliminate them from the game before their ship would destroy the final piece in my masterplan. I hated to admit it, but this was another problem I couldn't solve by blowing up a sun.
  666.  
  667. Everything else was in place. Every single Drath a star had a Starfucker looming next to it, and in one or two turns, Earth would too. I had to defend Starfucker 9000, and I had to do it this turn.
  668.  
  669. I stared at that screen for ten minutes, but every possible take on the geometry came out boned. My defenseless star destroyer, a fragile but potent Terran ship close by, a few of my PEACE BRINGERS and a single constructor - all too far away to do anything useful.
  670.  
  671. Terror Stars can't move more than one parsec per turn, it's one of the immutable laws of nature. And thanks to a stupid recent law, no ship can move faster than 5 parsecs a turn. Then, at last, I saw it.
  672.  
  673. Three of the things I just said aren't true. That constructor isn't too far away to do anything useful: it can construct, right where it is now. It can create a small pool of Spatial Hares influence next to that Drath star.
  674.  
  675. And I can move a Terror Star faster than one parsec per turn. Much faster. I can make it the fastest thing in the galaxy, thanks to another stupid law.
  676.  
  677. All of which means that this is a problem I can solve my blowing up a star: Drathis. The Drath's home system, hundreds of parsecs from here.
  678.  
  679. So I blew up Drathis - I had a Starfucker right by it, so it happened instantaneously. The Drath declared war on me, understandably. And as per the stipulations of that stupid territory law I passed on Day 9, six of my ships were moved from Drath space. Including Starfucker 9000.
  680.  
  681. It was moved to the nearest non-Drath space: that little puddle of influence I just created 20 parsecs away. I'd catapaulted the slowest unit in the galaxy 600 trillion kilometers in an instant: right to the sun it was built to destroy.
  682.  
  683. And with that, the final piece was in place. My Starfucker armada was ready, and the war was on.
  684.  
  685. Gentlemen: weapons free.
  686.  
  687.  
  688. Final Entry: The Seven Turn War
  689.  
  690. It was beautiful. Dread Lord veteran Starfucker Supreme rose above the yellow sun of Acer, Drengin-killer Starfucker Omega took Kures, and newcomer Starfucker 9000 drilled Alenil, Tiberius and Vitellius one after the other. The Starfucker that destroyed Drathis swept through the rest of their home constellation, guarded by the very ship that destroyed their entire army on Day 24; which I'd named the ROU Race Relations. In seven turns flat, every Drath world that had ever existed was dust.
  691.  
  692.  
  693. The Jedi are going to feel that one. In the past.
  694. Then, finally, on the seventh turn, at long, long last, Starfucker Prime MKII was poised above Sol. Look outside, chaps, even if it's night, because you're all going to see this one.
  695.  
  696. The Death Beam connected, our sun erupted, and in the split second it took the eight billion people of Earth to die screaming as the expanding halo of radiation and superheated debris boiled their world to vapour beneath their incinerating feet, I had time to wonder if I was really doing the right thing.
  697.  
  698. Oh well. Too late now.
  699.  
  700. It turned out the Terrans actually had another world tucked away in the last few centimetres of space I'd left unexplored, but they surrendered immediately.
  701.  
  702. "We curse you." Oh stop, Earthling Jenna Casey, you'll make me blush. "While we know we cannot defeat you, we shall have the last laugh. We have surrendered to the Dominion of Korx!"
  703.  
  704. That is pretty funny. They're my ally.
  705.  
  706.  
  707. GalCiv gives you one turn after you've won to... well, I'm not sure what you're supposed to do, but I always give everything away. I chose the Snathi - that tiny race of penniless space-rabbits the Drath loathed so much - as my beneficiary. I gave them everything I had except the planet Ecstasy - that seemed like it would make a good retirement home. The only thing I required of them in return was that they use my vast empire to wage a thousand-year war on the Korx, for no reason.
  708.  
  709. Peace is great and all, but after a whole turn of it I was getting bored.
  710.  
  711.  
  712. Post-Game Report:
  713.  
  714.  
  715. Galaxy size: Immense
  716. Races: 12 major, 8 minor
  717. AI difficulty: Random
  718. Game time elapsed: 16 years
  719. Playing time elapsed: 35 hours (approx.)
  720. Spacecraft destroyed: 1,300 (approx.)
  721. People killed: 650,000,000,000 (approx.)
  722. Suns destroyed: 21 (exact)
  723. Peace Achieved: 1 week
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