Extreme Challange completed! - Explorers and Alien units only Apollo victory


Feb 29, 2020

I have thought of a challange that is very difficult...a bit extreme even. I have won it on my first attempt but it was not easy at all. Sharing this story in case anybody feels like trying to try this challange out.
The challange:

A victory on Apollo, by never using any military units with the exception of Explorers, and wild Alien life (so Harmony units are not allowed). Leashing Aliens would be the main source of units.
Any Planet is ok but size should be Standard and Staggered Starts should be off. Orbital Units are OK to use.


> Any non-alien units that are obtained by any means must be deleted or sold, and quests can be completed by building/buying units, but they must be sold immediately.
> Any victory is acceptable but I think the most natural one is Transcendence Victory, with all the others being much more difficult to obtain. Transcendence should be easier because you would want to have Leash Collosal Aliens ability and for that you need Harmony lvl 9 anyway.

If anybody would obtain another type of victory I would be amazed.
I think only ARC and Chungsu can complete this challange, it is hard to believe that other faction could, and I wouldn't even try. Settling off the coast is a must...

I did not even use Electromagnetic Sensor or Pioneers or Mercenaries, because I wanted to avoid any accusations that I'm using too powerful seeding options. Also, I have discovered that Continental Surveyor can be just as good of an option, because not only it makes you see the layout of the map, but it gives you instand information about where Resource Pods are located on the coasts, so you can maybe get a few extra of them.

So I went with more normal Laboratory and Artists and Continental Surveyor.

The game seemed impossible when I spawned right next to Brazil, who forward settled me immediately with 3 cities. (screenshot below shows the proximity of our capitals)

In order to win I had to rush the defensive buildings and buy them, but I tech for the Command Center anyway, so that wasn't a problem.

During the game I managed to leash a few aliens that were helpful early and mid game, but they were not really enough to hold the ground in the late game, and I managed to defend myself only by using Orbital Lasers... and I finished the game with a non-launched Planet Carver awaiting the perfect moment to be deployed.

I attempted many Coup d'etats during the game, and without much success, but the one that mattered came at the right moment, and I managed to completely eliminate Brazil from the game by stealing their capital city. Hutama became runaway and was attacking everybody, and he captured the other cities of Brazil before my coup. I think I attempted 15 coups but only 3 were successful, so 35% success chance reflects that quite well.

I managed to build 4 Wonders, including Nanothermite for 25% more city power when attacking. Getting Strategic Resources was extremely hard and I didn't have any petroleum but I got it from Trading with Hutama.

I went with a Knowledge - Might - Industry mix, I believe Knowledge is the best in order to get the extra spy. Full Might could be ok if enough affinity can be obtained from quests or exploration as it would help rush the Planetary Wonder from the 2 free affinities, while 20% more affinity from the Might Virtue would certainly help with getting Harmony 15.

Traits were mostly non-important with the exception of Political trait - Subtle.

For improvements, I filled my capital in Manufactories in order to be able to build the Planetary Wonder. It took around 30 turns anyway.
Getting Promethean to be able to cope with Unhealth was important.

Artifacts are also not a big deal but getting Sky Chitin in the event of getting Drones, or getting 25% speed for spies in order to save up some Diplomatical Capital from traits, these do help.

Screenshot below is 1 turn before Transcendence Victory. I had to wait 42 turns until the Mind Flower bloomed.

Diplomatical Screen shows the status of other colonies:

Impressive! Great work!!

1) Who objected, when you started building the Mind Flower?
2) Who was your neighbor to the south? From the mini-map, it looks like Hutama occupies it now, but did he conquer it?
3) Did you leash any colossal aliens?
4) What was your closest call, in a military sense? Who invaded and when, other than Brasil?
5) Had Hutama started his own Mind Flower?

1) Samatar Jama Barre objected but I don't understand very well how they decide that, until then he was quite neutral to me. Normally you'd have expected the most powerful civ to object and try to stop you, in my case, Polystralia, but they were peaceful at the end (and also during the game)

2) To the South-South East was Chungsu, and to the South-SouthWest was NSA. Chungsu was helpful to me because they attacked Brazil and captured their cities during the game (later Chungsu were attacked by Polystralia and those cities were captured again by Hutama).

3) I wanted to leash collosal aliens but there was never any chance to do that. I even attempted an operation of Call Warm Strike or how it's called, to "summon" some Siege Worms at Brazil's Capital, but at 40% it failed and I didn't try it again. In fact I think I didn't even meet a Collosal Alien the whole game, which is pretty weird. I even tried to use a Xeno Siren to see if they come near my capital but nothing happened. I don't really understand how this satellite works...

4) Closest call was after the early game after Brazil attacked, and shortly after, the NSA also attacked, plus, I coup'ed Chungsu's Capital and thus declared war on them, which backfired, because I lost a city to all of these guys, so all my 3 cities except the capital. I had built the cities a bit far away from my capital to try to connect some Petroleum, and Xenomass, and the cities got razed. At the time I saved and exited the game out of frustration and took a day of pause. Couping a Capital is not useful at all if the next turn they simply conquer it back, I didn't think of that initially. I was losing a lot of time during the mid game attempting coups in 4 capitals (and failing), but the few times when it worked (on the NSA and Chungsu), they both recaptured in 1 turn and I felt like a fool. The only useful coup was at the end when I took Brazil out. They were starting to become dangerous, I wasn't sure I could defend the Mind Flower from being destroyed otherwise. So maybe it was overall a lucky win.

5) I think it is likely that he started it but I was way ahead and I wasn't keeping track of him anymore, just focusing on creating defenses for the Mind Flower at the end. I put up those cities as a buffer zone. Hutama was the most advanced at the end, he had a huge fleet, but seemingly not many land units. I assume he advanced very quickly in affinities from Spoils of War ( he eliminated PAC, and the NSA and many cities from Chungsu)...
In order to keep him friendly I send all my trades to him, it probably worked, he was also making gold and science from me so probably that is why he didn't attack me...

Of course trade routes were getting pillaged all the time but I just re-bought them with energy that I was stealing....

I forgot to mention in the story that Steal Energy and Steal Science were the most useful operations overall.... not much point for the others.
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