I'm starting a series of a few (maybe many) games as Darlok on what are typical settings for many of us, Huge/8/Impossible/Pre-Warp/Average Age/Antarans attack/Random events/ and with ship initiative on. I expect this to be very challenging as when playing many games with the weakest races using Cluster Galaxies (72 stars crammed into a Large Galaxy) I was only able to win 9 of 17 Darlok games. I was losing most of the initial games and winning most of the latter ones so I presume that I've learned to play an awful race better. OK Game 1: I spawned in the upper right corner (this is good as I DON'T want early contact with such a poor race as I may quickly be overwhelmed). My system has only 1 other planet and while large it is barren and HG (that is bad since I will only get 1PP/t per worker initially so it will be slow to develop). There are 4 other stars within range of a scout when I build it with extended fuel tanks. This is good as hopefully I can colonize some of those systems and still remain safe and happy in my corner to build up for 100 turns or so. Races with zero economic advantages are so slow starting up when compared to better races and custom uber-races since you need 4 guys farming. This means only 4 guys to research or build. Each scientist only provides 3 RP/t and each work will provide only 3 PP/t. 2 workers on the HW will provide 6 PP/t but pollution will make 3 workers provide only 7 PP/t and 4 workers 9 PP/t. As I need to both research and build labs and factories prior to colonizing with this lousy race, an optimal start will be efficient and not waste PP's to pollution and also be timed well so that I can buy these critical things when half built. So I start out selling no buildings as the SB will take very long to rebuild and I need my rax for moral. 4 guys start researching the computer (pre-req for labs) and after 4 turns I am 20% to get the tech so I move on guy to production to start banking 3 PP/t (Assign him to build a CB or spy) 4 turns later I get the tech and have 12 of my needed 30 PP saved. I now move the worker back to research as it will take a long time to get the lab tech with only 12 RP/t. I will need 6 turns more of one worker producing 3 PP/t to have the 30 I need so when I the game said that I was 5 turns away from getting the lab tech, I moved 1 guy back to bank production but lucked out by getting the tech next turn with a very low percentage chance. Now I could spend all my cash to get buy labs needing 45 PP/t or more efficiently (IMHO since I will need some cash later) spend 3 pollution free turns with one then two workers saving up the needed 15 PP/t while the others research hulls on the way to factories. On turn 26 I bought my lab for 60 BC paying for the 30 PP remaining. Similarily I bought my factory on turn 41 and then put all workers into making my CB while my lab passively contributed 5 RP/t towards freighter research. I was able to buy my CB on turn 48 when a bit more than half built. On turn 51 I bought freighter when a bit more than half built as I left one worker on my HW (Nazin 1) generating a pollution free 9 PP/t. On turn 52 I moved 4 more guys over to Nazin 2 as they are producing 5 pollution free PP/t and I want my factory built quickly. I am close to completing the initial chemistry tech so that I can then make a scout and see what systems are nearby. One worker is banking 9 PP/t working on a spy, built I won't build that spy and will spend the PP for a scout. OK onward into the game. My scout went into the corner and had to retreat from an ameoba at Gharne. Hmmm...just one planet and barren and rich guarded by an ameoba! Oh well, we'll safely take that later. Turn 59 and I buy my factory on Nazin two and move one guy back to Nazin 1 to research towards colony ships. Oh no....turn 62 my scout comes to the planet just below Nazin and it is connected to a Coid planet all the way across the galaxy! My dreams of early isolationism have been shattered and these Coids have 3 systems already and a bonus attribute of +50 pop growth. These will make great slaves if I can conquer them and their tolerant people will be superb for transferring to new worlds as I expand. But those dreams are 100+ turns away as now I simply must expand and stay alive. They're also well ahead of me in tech, but soon a spy will show up so I need a spy to defend (at least doing something with my +20 spying). On turn 66 my spy is built just their spy shows up. Hopefully he'll get bored and move elsewhere or get killed. I now have a decision to make and fortunately my scouting has helped me. Soil enrichment is usually a must so that I can free up some guys from my HW due to more efficient farming. An early colony ship is also a must as I must expand somewhat or remain too weak and be considered an easy victim for AI's. OK my scout just found a neighboring star with 4 planets to colonize and one of them is pop 6 swamp and will provide good farming and another is rich. I must colonize that system quickly and will let colony ship research finish and then go for biospheres and then soild enrichment. I've also bought my lab on Nazin 2 and am working towards a rax to improve moral and then will have just one worker building the SB there. 10 more turns have been played and now it is turn 76 and the Coids have grabbed their 4th system and are further ahead of me. Their spy is gone, fortunately. Hopefully they will get no spy techs and later on a few of my spies will show them how spying is really done. I now have a research decision to make as I am about to finish the tech for Biospheres or HydroFarms. I almost always go for Biospheres since I want larger planets and the added pop can due useful things like pay taxes, etc. Coids have Biospheres and maybe I can steal them later but I have only 4 income/turn now and if I build two farms that will cost me 3 BC/t (I'll save 1 BC as won't be spending as much on freighters). That would seem to cripple my early income, and I've done that before by building several farms quickly. OK Spheres it is and then Soils. I can afford the maintenance for spheres since I will have room for more pop and will build them as needed. Onward to turn 87 and I am still a long time away from getting my CS. I built Biospheres on my HW and maxed out pop at 14 and built housing on Nazin 2 so that I now have 16 total pop requiring 8 farmers on Nazin 1. Now Nazin two has one guy working slowly towards a SB and the other adding a measly 2 RP/T to my 10 RP/t towards Soils. Yes, HG is a BIG drag. Still only have met the Coids and still still are relaxed towards me and have no spies in my empire. I don't recall seeing AI's come down a long wormhole to colonize and they also never do so and build an outpost and attack. They sometime can come down a wormhole to attack from system to system so when I colonize that connecting system later I'll make sure to have some defensive ships. Hmm...turn 93 has thrown a monkey wrench into my slowly progressing plans as Hyper Space Flux has hit. Now I have no need for a CS as I can't move it, so I can put more guys into tech to get Soil Enrichment which I tech at turn 104. I also moved some guys back to Nazin 2 so I can grow pop naturally at home. Much earlier I didn't hire Emo and his lousy +10% tech. Now Androgena is waiting to be hired and she has +20% in four categories. As ugly as she is, she seems to scare everyone into working harder just by glaring at them . I'll now build spheres on Nazin 2 to speed up natural growth and to make room for more pop as I am stuck in this system for a while. Coids still like me..normally relations with a repulsive decay rapidly, but perhaps since they are so far away, they don't fear me. I'll take a chance and head for neural scanner and supercomps to build up my very lagging tech, rather than preparing for quick war with chem techs. I've raised taxed a bit to hire Androgena quicker. Onward to turn 136. The space flux lifted on turn 115 so I then put more PP into my nearly completed CS and colonized the rich pop 4 world in the Osae system since it will build up quickest and then build 3 more CB's. Androgena was hired and her +20 food, PP, $$, and growth are a big help to Nazin. I've quickly transported colonists into the Osae system, and a 5th is on the way as I built Biospheres. I now need to increase taxes back to 10%. My SB will be built on Nazin 2 (I'll need it eventually for the CP) and then I may have to assign a couple guys to trade goods there. Two Coid spies showed up as he has Neural Scanner but once I completed that tech they left in search of more fertile places to steal from. I still have and seem to need only 1 defensive spy. I'm banking PP as I work towards supercomps. OK moving on to turn 150. I've gotten a very lucky random event as my Rich Barren planet of Osae 2 has become Terran and now with Biospheres can support a pop of 14. Of course this will be my shipyard for much of the future. I am transferring colonists over to it and once supercomps are finished on Nazin 2 I may go to pop 1 housing there. I'd like another colony ship or two but research needs to be done and I won't expand into alien areas I cannot hold. Coids still are relaxed towards me. This is quite shocking since I haven't made any defensive ships. I am avoiding Deut cells for now as I have plenty of nearby systems and don't want to yet meet 3 more races at once as will likely happen once I get more range of movement. Turtling and building up continues but as soon as I meet someone else I may need some ships. Turn 182 and now the real game can begin as a strange looking race called Humans has made contact. They seem nice and have quickly agreed to a research treaty (I need tech more than trade). Osae has been fully colonized and supercomps are in almost everywhere. I was banking PP for the coming Robo-Miners but now much switch over and crank out war ships up to my CP limit of 7. Ships, any ships will help prevent the Humans from contempt and demanding things from me since I am SO weak looking. Around turn 165 I had to crank taxes up to 50% for a while to hire Valin, a financial leader with very useful megawealth and a boost to trade treaties. Spaceports on my two big planets have helped with income. Houry showed up begging for a job, but all she does is reduce pollution in one system. Her piercing green eyes and stunning red hair made Androgena quite jealous and as a much better leader is waiting to be hired, I sent her away. OK time to make 6 more frigates as I finish Robo-Miners and get into Chem techs to prepare for war. Once upgraded to MIRV Nukes these frigates can kill the Amoeba I can have that Rich planet in the extreme corner safely. A quick update on turn 188 as these Humans seem very friendly. I already have added a trade treaty and a N.A.P. Their leader is an honorable diplomat. They have only +5 vs spies unless they have a helpful leader I can't see, but I'll leave them alone for now. Often, I'll be framed for spying and they'll turn against me from my experiences. I'll send out a scout once as Deut cells will soon finish. Coids continue to love me and they and the Klacks continue to get no where in their ongoing war. Humans are near the center and Orion is likely in their space. Perhaps I can get there later via outposts or ally with them, although alliance is a last resort since I don't want to be dragged into their one turn wars and have them make peace as soon as they demand I fight their current enemy. Turn 231 now and I've come a long way. I hired Torg who gives me +60% in farming, PP, and BC and put him in Osae, my best system and have expanded to 5 systems. This is enough for now as relations with Coids have been deteriorating since about turn 190. I hired another good leader and sent Valin packing since I have plenty of income now and want the new leader's +180 famous. I have one Merc 18 BB and am working on another. My lousy Nuke 2 FF's will be refitted as Merc 2 FF's or I may just wait and refit them when I get EMG to help go after Orion etc. I have 65 pop now. This pales in comparison to Coids who've taken some planets from the Ants and are running away. Psilons seem to have spread a bunch of spy techs around, and somehow to the Repulsive Coids as well. I have 3 defensive spies and if alien spies show up, I may need more. Once my 2nd Merc 18 is ready I'll feel more comfortable about colonizing another system or two, but what I really want is Orion and Locknar's ship. My experience has shown that if you expand too much without a decent amount of ships, you get attacked and friendly races may stab you. I found a nice commando leader that added 4 CP as well. Onward to turn 260 and things continue to improve for me and I'm reaching critical mass where I'll be quite unlikely to lose unless things go very badly. I have 16 planets and 85 pop and will soon colonize yet another monster planet. Hmm..I do wish that some of these were UR but oh well . I found Orion and it is well below the center of the galaxy and hopefully I can outpost a friendly Gnol system and get there. As I add autolabs I am catching up a bit in tech. A bit earlier, my tech level was 5.5 times less than Psilon and 5 times less than Coids. On the diplomatic front, Coids hate me although I slowed this somewhat by voting for them rather than me in the last GC, and Ants have never liked me. The Ants have recovered and taken back some planets from the Coids. Other races have had minor skirmishes and a couple planets have changed hands. Psilons, Gnols, and Humans love me. Mecks were friendly but I lost contact with them and now they don't seem to want to trade, but the Gnols have beaten them up. Elerian is somewhere and likely getting stomped on as usual. Great news as I was able to take Orion on turn 278 and my colony ship will be there shortly. I attacked with 3 EMG 1's (all killed ) and two Merc 18 BB's (one killed) and 1 Merc 2 EMG 6 BB which delivered the kill shot. An amazing basket of techs was had along with the given Death Rays. X-armor (!!!!), Damper Fields (!!) and Particle Beam (good for point defense). My bonus techs seem to be the nearly useless Gyro Destabilizer and the nice Reflection Field. Gnols came asking for Terraforming and since Psilons had it and it is a basic single tech I figured they get it anyhow so I traded it for Heavy Armor and since I was sure that the Humans would get it in short order, I traded it for HydroFarms. Anyhow time to refit and make more BB's and realize that I want Aug Engines to help with ship initiative. The only thing that can kill an X-armored BB with Heavy Armor, Rein Hull and Damper Field is EMG missiles and my enemies don't have that. I am now doing some Physics techs to reduce battle scanner size and to get sub-space comm. I may trade Particle Beam if I can get several AI's to give me good stuff but so far no luck. Things started to go down hill quickly for me as on turn 291, the Gnols complained about my spying (I'd been framed) and broke all treaties. Several turns later when I could talk to him, he wouldn't make any new treaties. Perhaps I should've tried to bribe him towards better relations, but that doesn't always work and I wasn't terribly worried as I was building up nicely, and making some great ships with plans to take what was left of the Mecklars (3 systems along the right side below the center). On turn 300, my happiness was shattered as out of the blue, Baldy, the Human emperor complained that I'd dishonored him and stabbed me breaking all treaties and DOWing me. I had thought that I was strong enough appearing and had enough ships to minimize the chances of this nonsense, but I guess not. Apparently I was framed for spying. I hadn't put a single spy into any AI's camps, but that would change now. One of the issues with this game, other than that I was lots slower to develop than the strong AI races were at the Impossible level, was that Psilons were in the game and doing well and able to get all sorts of techs which were getting distributed to most other AI's. Psilons are also creative and get spy techs as they progress and most AI's had all these spy techs, so in spite of my +20 spies, I knew I'd not have much luck spying. Thus, by turn 300 when all hell broke loose, I was facing an AI with a larger array of nasty stuff to attack me with and better planetary and spy defenses than normal. Now I had a big fleet of about 15 Human BB's trashing my colonies at will. Even with X-armor and heavy armor along with the normal reinforced hulls, my SB were no match for this fleet and I couldn't catch up with it. A single BB of mine along with the SB didn't help either as I'd have to shoot once and retreat. I couldn't kill much if any of them. Some stray small fleets did meet their deaths by my SB's or running into a couple of my ships. Fortunately I had several decent planets near the center and Orion was built up by transferring in workers (sometimes from colonies that the humans were heading to). I was also making some more spies on minor planets using my production buildings while researching. The spy master leader came back and this time he was +6 so I hired him. Now my spies are +51 while Humans with all the spy techs -10 demo penalty are +35 defense. Perhaps I could steal a few techs and gradually as I increased my spies, I stole a couple techs. I kept 8-10 spies at home always and never saw an alien spy and wanted to keep it that way. In this game, by turn 300 one can often face a rampaging fleet of more than a dozen enemy ships. If I could get all my somewhat superior ships together including the Avenger, I could do some serious damage to this menacing attack. However, that didn't look to be at all possible and there were enough other Human ships near the center that I couldn't afford to take The Avenger away from Orion. Orion had become my capitol since Nazin was trashed around turn 310. One good way to deal with having you colonies trashed by a run away enemy fleet it to return the favor and instead of trashing, I want to conquer the enemy planets with troops and steal techs and keep up my empire's pop. But, OMG, they also had powered armor and a couple more GC techs. I had to max out GC and was helped by having two commando leaders so I could split my attack fleets. By turn 325 the galaxy map looked nothing like when I started as I had quite a few Human systems while my original systems were most wrecked and they'd taken one planet with troops. I was only a bit weaker than before since some of these planets were nearly built up and some stolen techs were helping. Oh happy day !! The Coids and the Humans were now at war and on turn 328 I couldn't find the huge Human fleet as it seems it took big losses to the Coids. Hmm..heaven forbid that I have to fight them soon and again I could vote for them in the GC without them winning and boost relations a bit. What looked like it would be a loss since I've I get too weak, other AI's will dog pile me now seemed to be tenable. But ..OMG... next turn the Gnols DOW me!!! Well things look bad once again, I as hadn't fully recovered from the beating the Humans gave me and with many destroyed SB's suffering from a big CP overrun. The Humans weren't completely dead, but they would no longer a major threat for a while, even though they'd made peace with the Coids who sooned finished off the Mecks. The last thing I needed to do was to face another rampaging huge fleet of doom. Fortunately, the Gnols first destroyed systems away from my now central location up near where I started in the corner and was rebuilding. I quickly took two nearby remaining Human systems (confining them to the upper center) and two Gnol systems, stealing Stealth Suit to help my spies. Gradually I added more spies vs the Humans and now every several turns a tech was rolling in. Stock Exchange/Astro Univ so now I didn't need these as pre-reqs for Imperium and soon enjoyed a 20% moral increase and a CP increase. Virtual Reality Network was stolen for another free 20% moral boost and now my income and tech are doing better and I need only a few farmers. As it was just past turn 340, you can see how far behind my tech was. Galactic Cyber Net was stolen by my troops, and my spies stole the +100 computer from the Humans and soon Class X shields, making my SB a less tempting target. I was sticking some outposts around to distract the Gnols and in hopes to keep my Psilon friends from colonizing my former good planets until I could find some peace to rebuild. Hmm..here comes a big Coid fleet and he trashes a newly conquered colony of mine and rebuilds it with a CS and doesn't DOW me (thank heavens). Klackons move their fleet all the way across the galaxy and destroy my outpost on Mecklon but neglect to colonize it with their CS and didn't DOW me. By turn 352, I have Warp Interdictors in several systems and in ship of losing one great ship yard to the Gnols, have cranked enough ships at Orion to be in reasonable shape. I now have Megafluxers (researched) and with Structural Analyzer (stolen) my BB's with Aug Engines and Transporters and beefed up with Dampers/Hull/Heavy Armor were formidable and could also with ship initiative could move first and close enough to enemy ships to bust through the shield and kill all marines and transport in to capture it. However, as I'd neglected to put the stolen Warp Dissapators on any ships, enemy ships often retreated before I could capture more and this prolonged things. I still have no planetary defenses other than SB's. Nothing was stolen and AI's wanted to take huge advantage of me to trade for such. I guess I should've forgone Titan construction for ground batteries, but anyhow I decided to work on some Titan ships (noting huge CP issues still). LOL I took a good look at my colonies, always trying to micro to speed my economic comeback before I got critically behind. My only remaining Darlok species lived on on Orion. All my other planets had alien races from conquests. Gnols and I soon had each other pinned down in systems near the bottom center edge of the Galaxy. On turn 355 their Emperor made a fatal mistake and split is huge fleet in half, sending half to a nearby planet that had WI and by the time he got there, I had plenty of ships waiting for him. My 7 ships carved up his 17. Capturing several, killing many, and watching several limp away. I kept a couple ships to supplement my forces and scrapped the rest for a couple more techs and cash and to reduce a -33 CP overrun. Next I went after the nearby system with the remaining Gnol fleet, but the wimp ran away, ceeding the system to me with out a fight. I took another system on the way into the lower left corner where their fleet was running to two systems that were trashed previously during the recurring Coid/Ant wars. I was also beginning rapid recolonization and making some artificial planets and building housing in places. Soon I noted that much of the Gnols fleet was gone. Apparently, lack of CP had caught up with him. It was now turn 360 and with nearly 40 spies in human labs, I was stealing every several turns. Humans destroyed a minor rebuild colony and then I caught up with that small fleet and captured it and took a nice big human planet, leaving him with just two lousy systems. Klackons were losing the fight with Coids and had just trashed a far away new colony of mine but didn't colonize it, again not DOWing me. Well...I could use those few Klackon systems and they've been nothing but a nuisance all game so it is time for war with him as well as his systems are right by the Gnol's two remaining. I demanded a tech from him and he DOW'd me. Quickly I took a minor system from him, but now saw that his other 3 had WI's to slow me down. I finished off the Gnols on turn 365 and this time accepted the Psilon's request for alliance. The last thing I need is for them to ally the dieing Humans and then DOW me before I can demand they break alliance with them. They're Pacifistic and hopefully won't get me embroiled in a war with the Coids too soon. More techs continue to roll in and I start building stolen android scientists on a huge poor world. I soon finished up Advanced City Planning and now all planets can support more pop. I spent some time redistributing my colonists and races and set some planets on pop-1 and built housing, getting about 800k/turn with several production buildings in place. On turn 376 most of my fleet was camped out in the Ant's 2nd system waiting for transports to show up just as the Klackon's large fleet arrived back from their piracy back on the right side of the galaxy. I capture several with some Death Ray transport ships and managed to capture a few more the next turn before the couple remaining retreated. I also destroyed a few of their BB's. Note to self..bring along a couple ships with Warp Dissipators with your capture ships so the enemy can't retreat. I also noted that my Psilon ally had 45 spies in my labs. I demand that they go home, and he complied. Anyhow, turn 380 now, and the Humans are reduced to 1 planet and I think I'll let them stay alive so my 50 spies can harvest more techs. I suspect that the Humans may surrender to the Psilons at some point. Klackons will be gone soon and in the event I fight and conquer the Coids it will be useful to have the Humans still alive since the GC doesn't come up with just two races remaining. However, I suspect that my quickest win will to go to Antares, but I need some more Physics techs to reduce stolen Plasma Cannons nicely as they pummel unshielded Antarans. My rebuilding is going well, and some peace will be great for a couple dozen turns so I can catch the Coids in pop and finally catch up in tech. Of course, I'll keep building and upgrading my fleet. Well, I've progressed to turn 392 and the Ants have surrendered their distant just colonized planet to the Coids and the Psilons have unfortunately recently finished off my Human spy victim. The GC just came up and while i njow have a bit more pop than the Coids I was 5 votes shorts of the 2/3 majority needed to win, in spite of my Psilon ally's votes for me. I have 63 spies (max) trying to steal a few desired techs from the Coids and 13 at home for defense. Coids hate me anyhow, so stealing a few techs can't really make relations critically worse. At least this should force the Coids to keep spies at home, reducing chances that they steal from Psilons and frame me. I have to carefully watch the races screen and the turn summary as I just had to demand the Psilons make peace with the Coids or they'd drag me into a war I don't want, yet. I'm carefully and aggressively building up my pop with housing in many places and now have Mutated into Warlord finally solving my CP issues as well as having all my ships crews instantly gain a level of experience. I don't expect a GC vote for a few dozen turns now. I expect to just build econ and research til about turn 400 and gear up to go to Antares while getting a couple advanced physics techs to reduce weapons. I continued to expand my econ and teching almost exponentially and was catching up to the AI and got one steal from the Coids. On turn 395 I received a warning that Antarans were going to attack. The map showed that they'd be arriving with two CC's in two turns. I had a Titan 1 turn away and instantly refitted it with two bays loaded with assault shuttles. Since my troops had taken Powered Armor from the Ants, and I now had +100 GC with 2 hits, it was trivial to capture both Antaran CC's but both blew up. 50% of the time they are not supposed to self-destruct upon capture, and actually sometimes I get to keep them and scrap them for techs, but trust me when I say that they certainly don't self-destruct less than 50% of the time. I was also building Android workers and Scientists (Droid scientists go on my large P/UP planets) and shifting mortals around with my large freighter fleet. As I passed turn 400 I realized that I should have enough ships soon to have no issues taking Antares just using my death ray ship along with some captured ones and a few assault ships with some EMG ships. On turn 410 after trading Death Rays to Psilons for Dimensional Portal almost 60 war ships when to Antares and amazingly most of my ships had the ship initiative. I destroyed their Star Fortress before it could get off a shot and then took out a BB leaving them with 4 more ships. I simply pressed Auto to speed things up, and was surprised that I captured most of their remaining ships (GC of 100 with powered armor and a +12 commando can do that at Antares it seems). OK Game 1 of this series goes to the Darloks. In summary, I was fortunate to have a decent starting spot where I could build up somewhat without much early interference. Unfortunately, I didn't have a good collection of R/UR monster guarded planets around. As so often happens to me, the Humans stabbed me and DOW'd me, breaking what seemed like wonderful relations. I was in danger of losing from about turn 300 -345 (note that Gnols attacked right after the Humans had been mortally wounded.) I think that I'd have lost this game without X-armor and perhaps without Damper Fields as well as my ships couldn't have held up and I couldn't make enough of them. Stolen techs from GC and spies were a big help in getting some very helpful things like Structural Analyzer and Power Armor and Virtual Reality Network etc etc.