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My latest Long Play: soyuz difficulty, with extra challenges

Discussion in 'CivBE - Stories & Let's Plays' started by Fins, Apr 6, 2015.

  1. Fins

    Fins Chieftain

    Jun 25, 2014

    This is the story of my long play in Soyuz difficulty ("very hard", game says, it's 1 lower than Apollo). Long play - means i played the game long after pressing "just one more turn!" button, i.e. for many hundreds turns.

    I play this game with seven extra challenges, which together makes the game nearly as difficult as a normal Apollo game would be in terms of achieving victory in the game (thus enabling "just one more turn" button). However, doing those challenges makes the _long_ term power of the colony higher, in the same time - which is why i take 'em.

    Here is the list of those self-set challenges:
    Spoiler :

    1. Do not create tile improvements (other than roads/magrails) to any tiles with no resources, except only few such tiles near the capital city at very start of the game.
    Spoiler :
    this obviously makes progress to victory slower. However, long-term, this allows to create many more strategic resources for the colony with Orbital Fabricators - since any non-resource tile which had any tile improvement (other than roads/magrails) becomes "disabled" for Orbital Fabricator resource-spawning effect. Even if player sends a worker and start a different tile improvement on the tile - it still counts as "improved" for Orbital Fabricator, even if this new tile improvement was cancelled very same turn it was initiated. Fabricators become available and widely used only after the game was won, - after "just one more turn" button, so in terms of winning, they don't help. I'll try to make through with as few as 2 grassland farms and 2 hill mines near the capital.

    2. Place cities 7 tiles next to each other whenever possible in terms of landscape limits, and ignore all existing resources in terms of selecting desired locations for building cities.
    Spoiler :
    this makes progress to victory slower, as colonists must travel further than usually optimal, and less cities are possible to build on any given landmass. Long-term, however, this allows cities to grow bigger and thus more powerful, as their working areas do not overlap. This is important not only for how many tiles a city can actually work for itself, but also in terms of which resources are available to it (allowing to make buildings which require those resources), since any tile with a resource can only belong to one city, and if the tile can be worked by 2+ cities - still only one city will have the resource "counted" in terms of which buildings cities can have.

    3. Get "Adaptive Sciences" virtue ASAP.
    Spoiler :
    this virtue is tier 2 Might virtue, giving extra affinity points from research. It takes 4 virtue points to get it. I got it right at the start of the game, which is certainly not the most useful in terms of "win ASAP" virtue, nor are some other Might virtues i had to take to get this one. Taking this resulted in not taking a free settler from Prosperity tree very early, too - which is another "hit" to my "normal game" strategy. Long-term, however, having this virtue very early allows to end up having maximum possible affinity levels in all 3 affinities. My previous long play in Gemini, i had 18/17/18. This time, may be i'll end up with 18/18/18 - at least, i'll sure try! :)

    4. Delay getting free affinity levels as much as possible.
    Spoiler :
    this sure don't help to win faster, but long-term, taking free affinities for _secondary_ affinities at their high levels (15+) - is the way to get the most "buck" outta those free affinity levels. Big part of any attempt to eventually make to 18/18/18.

    5. In quest choices, consider Research and Culture as low priority, preferring to take production, energy, worker speed, covert agent, etc where applicable.
    Spoiler :
    slower research and less virtues is utter nonsense for a normal game, it surely makes it harder to win the game. But in a long play, once all technologies are researched and all virtues are taken, +research and +culture only work to increase one's score. How important is that in terms of a gameplay? Yep, nada. And quest choices are permanent, of course - can't change them "after" research/culture become cosmetic stats. That's why for long play it's best to treat those as "tertiary importance" at best from the start, for a long play - _if_ the player feels he can still win despite doing this. I do. :p

    6. Either conquer or "buy" (via deal) any AI city placed on my landmass, ASAP.
    Spoiler :
    normally, this is not required nor desired most of the time. Building an army to take a city or two is entirely not needed to win, as is spending resources/energy to "buy" such cities. For a long play, however, it is desirable (for me) to prevent AIs from improving tiles without resources in areas which i plan to occupy myself, as by doing so, AIs make it impossible to spawn strategic resources on these tiles later in the game with Orbital Fabricators. In this game, i went through over a dozen coastal starts with Continental surveyor, saving each at turn 0 and then skipping to see where AIs spawn, until i found me a game with 3 continents, smallest of which only has me - and no AI on it. Long-term, it'd be best to occupy this whole smaller continent all by myself for security reasons, but if AIs manage to place few cities and improve some non-resource tiles, this would reduce total amount of strategic resources i'll eventually have at my disposal - and so, it'll cut down on my long-term military might. Unacceptable! :) Though i'll try to prevent AIs from founding any cities on "my" continent, of course, - but if they would, i'll have to spend time and effort on removing the AI "infestation". :D

    7. Get harmony = 11 relatively soon and after getting it, spend most of covert ops time trying to do Worm Strikes on AI capitals.
    Spoiler :
    Obviously not a most productive use of spies in terms of winning a game, in terms of long play, this is something interesting to do. Going Harmony as a primary ability for much of mid-game is not the fastest way to victory, too. But, AI capitals can only be razed by Worms, and Worm Strike is the primary method of doing it. But it has rather low success chance, requires lots of Intrigue (and so much covert op efforts to raise it), and is not guaranteed (far from!) to take out AI capital, except if with heavy military support by player - reducing AI capital to zero health and keeping it at it for worms to raze it, taking out AI militaries prior to the Worm Strike, etc. I've tried Worm Strikes on Gemini very late-game (turn 450+), and by then, it takes even much more of effort to even attempt one on an AI city! %) Still, doing it allows to "snatch" wonder(s) built in razed AI city - once gone, city is gone with all its contents, allowing the player to build those "gone" wonders for himself (provided he beats AIs at building speed, of course).

    And the point of doing Worm Strikes ASAP after they become available - is that late in the game, all AIs build surveilance webs, effectively disabling player's ability to make a worm strike by limiting max intrigue level in their capital cities; that is, without multiple (at least two!) declarations of war to the AI. Here's why: 1st DoW is to take his capital and remove Surveilance web building from it, remove other buildings (especially +health and +production), and "prepare" the land by placing lots of +unhealth tile improvements around - unhealth increases Intrigue generation; 2nd DoW - right after giving to the AI his capital back (during a truce), since AI builds surveilance web rather soon again, except when he's constantly pounded my player's army "at the door" but allowed to keep his being-pounded capital, in which case AI is busy making units and defensive structures.

    Each of those challenges, perhaps except 1st, seem to be relatively small on its own. Combined, though, they add quite much of difficulty towards achieving victory. That, plus the fact that Soyuz difficulty has most AI bonuses closer to Apollo than to Gemini (and Gemini itself already has substantial AI bonuses) - makes me confident that playing this long play with listed here extra challenges on Soyuz - is about as difficult as a normal game on Apollo.

    At least, it should be closer to "normal Apollo" than to "normal Soyuz", IMHO.

    The story.

    0. Setting up the game.

    I selected Kathithan Protectorate as a sponsor, standard map size, standard pace, Soyuz difficulty, Artists colonists, Continental Surveyor spacecraft, Machinery cargo (free worker), and Terran world. The only change in advanced settings i made - is selecting "lush" biome, since it's the biome i enjoy the most looking at.

    Chapter 1: Early game

    I started research with Engineering - doing a "recon run" earlier to see what i got in the game (i hate the fact not all resources are visible at the start!), i knew i have a Titanium tile near my capital.

    I started production with making 3 extra explorers. Those are lifeblood at the start. Then Relic, after that - just-unlocked Ultrasonic fence (sometimes its quest gets delayed for a LOT of turns, and i didn't want that to happen), and then colonists.

    I started exploration going around my little continent. I found that it has LOTS of aliens - some ~7 aliens nests, no less. Tremendous luck! Why is that, you ask? Because i knew i am going to take Scavenging virtue really early, and with two +culture pods and my Artists people, i took it really early - about turn 20 or so. This Might virtue gives +science for every alien killed, and a whopping (early-game) 60 science points for every alien nest cleared.

    One of explorers found Progenitor ruins on my continent, made an expedition, and it gave me my 1st affinity level. I made it Purity. Purity will be, for most of the game, a secondary affinity, but for now, it's good.

    Few dozens turns later, with explorers roaming other continents, another Progenitor ruin was found - and again, +affinity points; other side of the map, Alien Skeleton gave me +affinity as well. I spend those for Purity as well, as virtually, it nets me a bit more "virtual" affinity exp - higher levels are more expensive. Some affinity quest popped up, and i completed it, getting to level 4 in Purity with it.

    Two other affinity quests popped up early, by the turn 68, both are in progress; choices i made steered one of those quests to Harmony, and another - to Supremacy. Getting balanced affinity gains from quests is a part of my long play plan to get 18/18/18 affinity levels end-game - despite some extra difficulty this produces during development.

    Turn 68.

    This turn 68 is special, it indicates how amazing start i managed to get - since by turn 68, i got Computing researched, and i got Defense Grid researched by turn 67 after it, along with 5 other basic technologies.

    With just 11 beakers per turn, this was possible mostly thanks to Scavenging: explorers managed to take out 7 empty alien nests (some of nests - twice!) - and so far, aliens are still green (neutral), somehow; perhaps they don't get mad if they don't "see" their nests taken? Plus, my capital killed several aliens with its city strike, giving even more science from Scavenging. I see many aliens not far from my capital all the time - perhaps killing aliens attract other aliens, who leave their nests empty? And, of course, few pods with +science helped too.

    By the turn 68, i also got my Spy Agency built. No AI got it by this point - i was first to get spies going! :) And i got one more city operational by turn 67, and an outpost settled for a third one. I also got a trade route with a station going early, and the station turned level 2 some 60th turn. Didn't lose any unit to aliens, so far.

    The only early wonder which i, personally, consider as really improtant - which is Panopticon for its +1 sight range for units, - is started by turn 68, too. It will be done by turn 79 or a bit earlier (if that nasty bug steps out of one of my mines - i spend time building it with a great risk to my worker, and now they aliens regularly block it by stepping on it!).

    The free solar collector is about to drop down in a few turns, and i tried to pile up some energy, as i will be getting Investment virtue well before turn 100, and energy problems are definitely on the horizon as expansion of cities and building more units will happen.

    In terms of score, by turn 68 i am at the 2nd place, with ARC being just 3 points higher. Overall, with a coastal capital able to spit out more colonists and trade vessels, and lots of space on shores of "my" continent for more coastal cities, i expect excellent and fast progression as soon as some internal sea trade will be established. Ultrasonic fence quest already happened, and, of course, i took trade units immunity vs aliens from it.

    Here is how it looks by the turn 68.

    Turn 105.

    Things go really well so far. By now, i am leading best of AIs in terms of score by some 60+ points.

    Two wonders built in the capital by now - Panopticon and Ectogenesis pod.

    Two more cities were found by turn 103 and 104, so my colony is now 5 cities. Trade depots are present in all five, 1 trade convoy (to a station) and 7 trade vessels are doing their thing, and two more vessels will be created by turn 106 to complete my current trade fleet.

    Two more virtues taken - Alternative Markets and Investment, boosting my energy output to +30sh per turn, and that's with no solar collectors at the time and only one thorium generator built so far.

    Two gunboats are now shredding bugs on landmass edges, and extra explorer lurks around, looking for more "freebie" alien nests. The capital is starting to spit out Rangers, which it can now produce in 1 turn each - i'll have at very least four of those, but more likely about six by turn 111...112. Lots of aliens to deal with - and so, more science coming my way through Scavenging.

    Two water refineries are already built, and the technology for autoplants is being researched.

    Quite a few "two" things, somehow. Funny. %)

    In terms of technology progress, my technology score is already higher than any AI, and that's with still low beakers per turn (24 @ turn 105 - had no time to build all those +science buildings yet).

    AIs still didn't build any Spy Agency to themselves. My three spies generated some intrigue in 3 AI capitals, and all three are now doing their 1st steal tech operations, which should be completed by turn 112. Somehow, the spying quest chain still didn't start; instead, one more affinity quest popped up by turn 100, - a purity one. So now i have 3 affinity quests active, and each is for different affinity. Going broad, eh. :)

    Health became an issue already, being -19 at the time - despite two +3 pharmalabs i squeezed in by turn 105. But with solid sea-based internal trade going on, i'll fix most of this in few dozens turns. Gene gardens already available and mindfully taken Purity affinity allows them to be built, - on top of all the basic +health buildings. Magnasanti virtue is already on the horizon, too.

    Explorers actively roam other continents, doing expeditions where possible, snatching an empty alien nest now and then for +60 science and a bit of energy per each, and revealing terrain. No more +affinity from expeditions so far, though.

    Amazingly, no sea aliens were met so far by explorers and gunboats, nor spotted by my cities (which are all coastal). Unusual. And unfortunate, - those give good +science from Scavenging, thanks for their higher combat strength, and i don't do Ultrasonic fence in any city except the capital (for the quest), hoping some sea aliens will come in range of city strikes releatedly, and eventually killed. But so far, no luck. Not a problem, of course, and i guess they'll show up sooner or later, anyway.

    Turn 150.

    This turn quite marks the end of "Early game". By turn 149, Magnasanti was taken, and most of expansion is complete now - with only two more cities planned on the "mainland", one of which will only be possible if/when a station will be removed.

    Here's how it looks by turn 150:
    Spoiler :

    On this screenshot, i enabled resource icons. As you can see, 12 Xenomass tiles are present. 11 of them had Miasma on them right since the start of the game, - and alien nests, of course. To clear the land, it was rather large war with aliens (as expected), which i won without losses. Several times aliens were turning "orange" - semi-hostile, - but i keep one alien nest within my territory at all times (near the capital - Mandira), which pacifies them rather well, especially since i got Harmony affinity levels.

    The outpost across the ocean next to the capital (Mandira), i created on the western continent to grab more land, "screen" my capital in the future, and possibly be the city from which land trade with stations and/or AIs could be made, if so desired. It has some nice resources to it, too.

    Few turns before turn 150, two nests spawned in the middle of the continent, quickly produced a drone, two beetles and a raptor bug. Those were dealt with by my gunners and a lone soldier, and both nests were taken. Total amount of Science i got so far from alien killing and nests' taking (on "my" and some on other continents) - i estimate as over 2000 beakers. Now that my own beakers per turn passed 100, Scavenging became nearly minnor source of +science, and there is little point in keeping some nests present, spawning aliens.

    Speaking of science, i am now firmly in lead over all AIs in terms of technology score: Scavenging and Tech stealing early. The latter, so far, i made 6 attempts of, 3 failed, 3 worked. One of stolen technologies was Mechatronics, and by turn 150, i already built the Crawler out of it. I also got me Master Control - with more and more internal trade going on, the Capital is already well over 100 production. AIs so far managed to only get them two early wonders in total, and that's on Soyuz. That's how powerful Scavenging + lots of aliens start seems to be!

    Overall score lead increased to 215 points - over 50% lead over best of AIs. Here's what the score is made of:
    Spoiler :

    You can also see another outpost of mine on the eastern continent, far north. I built it on the only tile which is a single tile between two oceans; this city will allow passage of my navy into northern sea over eastern continent, if i'll need it, - and, of course, trade routes too. One of firaxite tiles nearby is a whopping +10 firaxite, on top of all. Yummy. :)

    In total, by turn 150, i have 7 established cities and 5 outposts, 2 of which are 1 tile away from becoming a city. This is quite wider than optimal in terms of research and culture at the time, and i know it - but taking all those territories is a part of long-term goal to have LOTS of unimproved tiles to work Orbital Fabricators over them. Starting oil supply is already secured - one +6 and one +7 oil tiles. Titanium tiles are also present.

    Two more outposts are not directly visible on above screenshots - one at very southern tip of the mainland (actually on a 1-tile island next to the tip), and another one on eastern continent - that big peninsual was too tempting to not set a settler there. If rapid border expansion of KP will allow me to have that single city to grow its borders to 5 tiles in all directions, then it'll be LOTS of unimproved land tiles for Orbital Fabricating strategic resources on them, for just a single city, that is. Here's how south looks like:
    Spoiler :

    All those 12 cities and outposts (in total) are of course coastal, and all are "looking into" ocean parts which are around my mainland, allowing rich sea trade to florish.

    Science becomes a major problem now, as i can't do any Academies (due to challenge #1). Current research will give me Institutes, and i'll put specialists in them to the capacity. That's at least 12x3x3=108 beakers per turn from those specialists alone. 120, if i'll build one more city on the eastern coast of the mainland (which i'll likely do). Some more will come from Firaxite tiles, then i'll probably aim at some point for more buildings with +science specialists. Other than that, given another challenge of this game which makes me mostly ignore +science in quest choices, - it'll be direct +science buildings everywhere (some 200+ beakers per turn), and population (over 100 beakers per turn), by the turn 200. In total, it'd be good to have 500+ BPT by the turn 200. This is still very low, of course, in terms of "normal" game, but it should suffice to achieve victory before any AI would. I guess i'll aim for Contact victory 1st.

    On the spying front, above mentioned 3 stolen technologies is pretty much all i got from it so far. Strangely, spying quest line didn't appear - the quest to establish a network never popped up. Instead, "Redacted!" quest popped up some 120sh turn right away - the one which requires to make a level-4 covert op. I was only able to try level 4 operation once, and it failed; all AIs except Elodie have spying agencies now. Worse, they made a rush to my Capital, Mandira, and raised Intrigue in it to level 4 in less than 20 turns. And my agents were busy doing their own operations. By turn 150, one of my spies arrived to Mandira to do counter-intelligence, and i hope it'll save me from getting a coup in my capital, done by some AI... %)

    On the diplomatic front, AIs are all neutral so far, except African guy, who's guarded. No AI did any DoW to me so far; they do wars with each other alright, though. I guess being separated from AIs by oceans helps with this - as does noticeable army. At the time, it's 1 soldier, 6 gunners and 4 cruisers. We'll see how it'll go now that i'll have cities on all three continents. I keep selling all my resources to them for energy, of course; so far, able to maintain 45 energy per each resource.

    Energy reserves, as you can see on scrennshots, are solid 4444 energy. Funny number. :) Why i don't spend it, you ask? Because of the "Investment" virtue i took, which gives 1% of current energy store per turn. To max this virtue, i need to have 10000+ energy stored, and as you can see, i am almost half-way there. That said, i do spend energy for most critically important things: buying a tile here and there when i really want it and the city is expanding "other directions", and, of course, buying trade deports as soon as outposts grow into cities. This energy reserve has practical meaning, too: if any AI places an outpost on my mainland, i can buy it as soon as it turns into size=1 city (while it's still relatively cheap to buy), and either keep it (unlikely), or raze it and, if required, expand my territory to where it was built, or make my own city nearby.

    Culture per turn is rather low, it's the only stat so far most AIs have higher than me (considering cultural part of my and their scores). Well expected because of one of challenges in this game, and to become much better by turn 200, since more and more +culture buildings come "online".

    Affinity progress for Harmony is rather hard at this point, but i'll keep on it. That Supremacy = 5 you see on screenshots came nearly for free: one tech i researched for a wonder, plus one higher-tier tech stolen gave Supremacy points too, and then the quest for Autolabs gave more. That supremacy=5 allowed me to get cruisers, which is nice, but if stealing technologies will give more Supremacy points, that would significantly slow Harmony progress... Fingers crossed it won't happen.

    Overall, early game, this long play went very well, and created a good foundation for further progress, victory and "happily ever after" long play. The seven extra challenges described at the start of this post start to really slow me down, but this was well expected, and should be so. We'll see how midgame will go; it'll define whether i make it to "Just one more button" or not, and correspondedly, whether this story would end prematurely, or would go on to the full extent of my plans.

    P.S. I encountered character limit: it's 30000 characters. Woot woot, the story gets long, huh? Proceeding to 2nd post! %)
  2. Fins

    Fins Chieftain

    Jun 25, 2014
    Chapter 2: midgame

    Turn 203.

    Massive progress which i expected - didn't happen. Instead, _tremendous_ progress happened - even more than i thought i'd get. :) Now, i am very far ahead of all AIs, and they have no chances whatsoever to stop me now even if they all would DoW me in the same time.

    Here's the score and primary stats by turn 203:
    Spoiler :

    This one has yield icons, and as you can see, i keep following that challenge #1 of mine: only two farms and two mines on non-resource tiles near the capital city, all other non-resource tiles stay not improved, waiting for orbital fabricators to do their resource-spawning job. No academies, no biowells, no generators, etc. And despite this, i lead AIs in score and in all components of the score, rather massively - means, this game would be quite OK even on Apollo, i'd still lead just with lesser margin, probably. Question then arises: the usual "academy spam" - is it _really_ needed? =)

    Comparing score components to AIs, this is how best of AIs per each component stands against me now:
    - from cities, 64 points by Hutama (vs my 112);
    - from population, 388 by Hutama (vs my 648);
    - from land, 109 by Kozlov (vs my 198);
    - from wonders, 25 by Suzanne and Elodie (a tie for 2nd place, as they both have 1 wonder - vs my 275 points for 11 wonders built!)
    - from technology, 108 by Suzanne (vs my 140);
    - from virtues, 80 by Rejinaldo (vs my 100).

    General stats took a massive leap since turn 150, in particular science, which increased more than seven-fold. Direct +science buildings, big population, science from improved tiles (Kathithan faster border growth makes more of those available faster), and specialists - those are main sources of science for me. The latter, currently i have 33 scientist specialists working in older cities, that's well over +100 science (with +% science effects). Nearly a dozen of artists complete my "specislists" corp, so far. Despite that, health is very positive now, too.

    How all that was done? Tons of internal trade properly done, and tons of buildings built. One key is to send at least one, better two trade routes to any just-found city from bigger cities very same turn the city pops up - in addition to having a route from this newly built city to the capital. I keep _all_ cities sending routes to the capital, and the capital is sending its routes to other AIs (and any station(s) when efficient). The other key is to have Magnasanti before starting to expand massively, since it's so nicely expanding virtue in terms of health. That's why i had 5 more outposts by the time i took Magnasanti - i knew it's the time to grow. Building trade vessels in advance to use them ASAP with new cities, buying things which accelerate development here and there, and other similar "typical" measures to accelerate development - all this working together allowed to do even better than i hoped i'd do. In particular, not only i caught up with best AIs in terms of virtue score, but i even went ahead of them significantly.

    Virtues taken by turn 203 are those:
    Spoiler :

    Last two virtues taken by turn 203 were the two tier-two virtues in the middle column of the industrial tree. One of them is giving health, this bumpled health from late-teens to forties. Even without it, Magnasanti was totally enough to keep health in green once most cities built most buildings available at the time.

    Two more cities were found on shores of my continent, completing the chain of cities around it. The one of the western coast was found after Kozlov built his own city 4 tiles away from the trade station which was present nearby. I bought that city as soon as it popped size=1, razed it, then destroyed the trade station, and built my own city two tiles away, fitting my own pattern of cities. That also completed Harmony affinity quest, which popped up by turn 193 and required to make a city near miasma.

    Another attempt to occupy some of space near my cities was made by Elodie. Her colonist sneaked somehow around my continent (perhaps, the other way?), and she made a city 4 tiles next to Sachita. You can see a lone road tile remaining from that one in the screenshot with virtues. I bought it when it popped size=1 the same way i bought Kozlov's city on my continent - for pure energy. Interestingly, in both cases, the pricetag for those newly built cities was exactly the same - 1640 energy. That's despite different relations with those two AIs - at the time, Kozlov was Guarded, while Elodie was Neutral to me.

    In terms of relations, things polarized quite much. By turn 203, Hutama is hostile to me - despite being exactly half a map away from my lands. He's Harmony, level 7 at the time; i guess lots of alien killing i've done mainly prior to turn 150 is the main part of his attitude, and then i killed a trade station he traded with (for the Hostile Takeover quest), and that possibly tipped him into hostility even despite i apologized and promised not to do so again.

    Three others - Kozlov, Daoming and Samatar - are guarded for a number of reasons.

    Two more AIs are neutral - Elodie and Suzanne. Dames seem to tolerate me rather well even despite i spit on their interests whenever my own are involved, and despite 6 of my spies are now working in Elodie's cities (and 7th will join the party when i'll explore one new city of hers).

    And much surprizingly, Rejinaldo is firmly Friendly to me. I don't really understand why. He's not the easily befriended type. We don't have common border yet, but his lands are few tiles away from my south-eastern city, Zafar. But he doesn't covet my lands. He doesn't covet any wonders i've built. He's different affinity - Supremacy, - and that's the only red line he got "vs" me. The only green one - is the trade route i sent to him few dozens turns ago. I traded resources to him in bulk in the past, perhaps this made him so friendly? No idea.

    Diplomacy "my way" - is rather calm overall. Sometimes an AI "calls in" and proposes to declare war to some other AI, which i always politely refuse. I didn't declare war to any AI myself so far, too, and most likely i won't in the future. But any AI who would DoW me - would lose this "benefit of non-agression" from me, i'll use 'em agressors to practice worm strikes on, i guess, - and there will be little, if anything, left of them when i'm done practicing. %) For now, AIs keep making wars between each other, and at some point about turn 160sh, Samatar (African union guy) had only one lesser city remaining on the map. At some point he asked me for some ~2k energy as help, offering 5 favors in return - which i refused, of course. I sent to him a trade route from my capital, which is all i did for him. Somehow, he managed to survive and have 3 cities now. I.e., 203 turns into the game, not a single AI is wiped out yet. Cool. :)

    And so far, no AI was silly enough to DoW me - i keep my army significant, adding units now and then. By turn 203, it's 1 Centaur, 9 Cruisers, 1 Disciple and 8 overseers. 6 explorers are lately in use as placeholders, staying on tiles i don't want AI colonists to get into. Unit supply is huge and further growing now, and with 14 cities all doing 50+ production, i can double my military in some ~5 turns, if needed.

    Speaking of unit supply, it's 114 total, of which 32 is remaining. Partlly because so far i only built 3 satellites - 3 lasercoms. Solar collectors are still not availble (not researched), and not really needed - as visible on screenshots, i made to over 10k stored energy. Part of that is from buildings' quest choices, other part - from not building "useless" buildings, saved maintenance, three external trade routes and, of course, Investment virtue.

    Affinity levels progressed as follows: by turn ~167, i had Harmony hitting level 6, becoming primary affinity. It remained primary since then. Further action included extra affinity boosts to Supremacy and Purity from quests, recent Harmony quest, more techs for Harmony and Supremacy. By turn 204, i'll start researching Nanorobotics, and i'll have it by turn 211 latest. It'll boost my Harmony to level 11, and i'll start to be able to do worm strikes. And also, this is the last tech needed for the next stage of Transcendence victory - and so far, no AI made any traceable through "Victory" screen progress to any victory. Noone even launched any lasercoms. So i'm not in a hurry to "win" the game, snatching middle-circle-tech wonders and developing the colony instead, progressing to victories where it's "2 in 1".

    I delayed upgrade for Gunners from Harmony for a little while, and instead, quite soon upgraded them from Supremacy - this +20% for nearby friendly unit thing is quite universal for them, especially once they will have range=3. Overall, my strategy with upgrading units is rather simple for this long play: i mix upgrades freely, delaying them where needed, to get all sorts of pure and mixed units - only considering upgrades' effects, and not which affinity they come from.

    A small big disaster, though, happened during those 150...203 turns: spying. It was a failfest! Only one tech stolen out of several attempts, another level 4 operation failed (so "Redacted!" quest is still incomplete), and AIs i tried to build intrigue against - all reacted timely and properly, setting defensive agents. I realized i'm losing that game rather soon, though, and concentrated all spying efforts on Elodie. Still, with more fails (which do not give any intrigue!), things develop slowly. Right now, 6 cities of her all have some intrigue: one of them clearly had other colony's spies working against her, went to level 5, and 3rd attempt of level 4 operation is going on there from me now. Two other cities are ~lvl3 intrigue for now, and three more her cities are building up their intrigue levels as my new spies teach themselves into proper speed. I keep hoping more spies from other colonies will join me vs Elodie, as she's 2nd in score after me, and as my spies boost her cities to higher intrigue. If i'd manage to Worm Strike her capital, i'd even get another wonder to my already big "collection" of 'em. %)

    I guess this single turn-203 update concludes the "midgame" chapter. By now, i feel quite invincible in this long play. I can do whatever i want, the inertia of already developed colony will keep me ahead of AIs in any case. I have higher level in _two_ affinities than any AI has in a single one, and best production on the planet to further enhance the military advantage. My main territory is quickly growing and becoming a single mass of tiles, impenetrable to any colonists (i never give any AI open borders, of course). From now on, the play becomes "uninteresting" to anyone who loses interest as soon as victory gets decided. For me, though, everything so far is only a start. But, of course, it'd be best to make victory "officially", just to be sure. In one or two updates, i guess i'll be there.

    Chapter 3: Late game

    Turn 246.

    Victory is not achieved yet, though it could most likely be, if i'd rush Transcendance. Could have Mind Flower built ~20 turns ago, and with building Mind Stems in most cities, i'd have Harmony victory by now, i think. Instead, i decided to go for Contact. This is the victory i personally like the most, and so i decided it should take priority. Decoding the signal was much delayed, despite i launched 8 deep space telescopes in hope to accelerate it. No idea if it does, but at least the science bonus for cities is nice. After a while it got decoded, my capital quickly built the Beacon, and by now it's 22 more turns to victory - i.e., i'll get it done by turn 268. Ain't the fastest victory, of course - very far from, - but for this long play, it is exactly enough. Other AIs' progress indicate i'll get to it in time no problem (Elodie went to 50% Transcendence just few turns ago, means she'll spend at least dozen+ turns constracting mind flower, and won't have enough time to beat me to victory):

    Spoiler :
    As you can see, i renamed my cities since the turn 203 update. Somehow, their names grew old. %)

    This screenshot also demonstrates a part of my new neat magrail network, connecting all 10 "mainland" cities, the working Beacon, highlighted minimap, and the canyon right in the middle of the screenshot. The latter is "special" in that it will be the only tile in the midle of "my" continent which won't be a part of my territory once all cities complete their border expansion. I plan to put other 3 "victory" buildings around that canyon, if i'll manage to beat AIs to other victories (i hope i will). Highlighted minimap shows that most land in the world, by now, is taken, and as such, "border wars" are becoming frequent and intensify. Most of areas not under someone's colors are due to trade stations. One area (near by north-east city) is not taken by any AI because i keep my explorers and a pair of land units there, not letting colonists in, to expand that city's borders into land 4 and 5 tiles far from the city.

    Speaking of border expansion, now that i have most virtues and buildings giving +culture, borders expand quickly. Still, i spent over 5k energy buying tiles around my cities which are near AI territory, since the turn 203 update (and more energy doing the same prior to it). As a result, by now, i guaranteed all my cities that every last possible workable tile is or will be my territory.

    Science more than doubled during last ~40 turns, and affinity levels on the screenshot reflects it. I am still not exactly sure if i'll make 18/18/18, but it seems likely.

    I keep building wonders - now outer-circle-tech ones, of course, - and so far AIs failed to snatch any wonder from me. By this turn 246, "wonders score" stands at 17:2, where "2" is how many wonders all AIs have combined; 17 is in fact more than a half of all unique wonders in the game, too. Only two wonders were built in non-capital city, which by now has over 500 production when building wonders, this comes from virtues for it, from the fact every city sends a trade vessel into the capital, and general development of the capital.

    Overall score is now 2110 me, 871 Elodie and 735 Kozlov.

    And here's the main point to make this update: right now, by turn 246, mr. Kozlov decided it's a good idea to DoW me:
    Spoiler :
    He does this, obviously, for territory of my only city on his continent. I was expecting it. Having no units (except workers, which are expendable) next to his borders ensured no losses during his initial move. Having cruisers and other military units which can arrive to the scene in 1...5 turns makes me 100% sure his advancing army will be destroyed soon, and will fail to take my city. That city of mine, itself, was found strategically: "behind" canyons, and quite earlier than Kozlov built his cities next to mine, there (as obvious from how close to them my border is).

    He has no chance to take that city, given those ranged units of mine already present on the screenshot and the city itself. It won't help him that by very next turn, as visible on the screenshot, i'll get to Purity=12, which means my rangers will get their last upgrade (which i delayed, skipping Harmony and Supremacy ones) - which doubles their combat power and gives them range=3. With more rangers coming in from my mainland, plus two Xeno Cavalry units upgraded for flanking, and 5 tier-3 cruisers nuking anything silly enough to get into their range, i see no problem in taking Kozlov out after his advancing force is destroyed.

    But i won't take him out completely. My plan is much more... painful, for him.

    First, i'll take all his cities, except one: city of Konechno will become his only city and his new capital. I won't agree to his peace requests until i'll have them. Once i do, then i'll accept his request for peace - "for now". During the truce and short-term peace period after it, i'll destroy most buildings in "his" cities (annexing cities allows to "sell" one building per turn right away), while in the same time building manufactories in most of "his" tiles (since it'll be my territory at the time), keeping some farms here and there. At this time, his only city of Konechno will be practically encircled by then "my" territory, and so other AIs won't have a chance to finish him off. If there will be any narrow passage or two from "outside" to that single remaining city of Kozlov, then i'd block them with my units, of course.

    Second, once selling real estate in Kozlov's cities and morphing his lands into "unhealth disaster" are complete, i'll give him all those cities back via "deal", practically for free; and then i'll declare war to him very same turn, and will annex the city of Konechno right away, and later i'll raze it. All other cities, i'll siege for several dozens turns, destroying any unit he makes, including workers and colonists if any, but not taking any more cities. The point is, all that unhealth he'll be generating from Manufactories, and from his population (that's why i'll keep some farms around - so that his people would be around, generating unhealth), and from the lack of +health buildings ("sold" by me), - will allow my spies to generate intrigue in his cities very fast. Obviously, i'll sell his surveilance webs as well before giving him back his cities. And with my army at all his "doors", i think he'll be busy making defensive buildings and units rather than re-building his surveilance webs, which is why second wartime is needed.

    Third, once my spies manage to destroy his original capital city by a Worm Strike, assisted by my ranged units to keep his capital at zero health, - which would also complete "Redacted!" quest, which is still incomplete, - i'll raze his cities Konechno, Svyatoy and Istochnik, so that borders of my West city could grow more, and then i'd go defensive and agree to his peace request, if he'd make it. Quite possibly, other AIs would finish him off. But if not, i'll let him be: if he'd manage to survive afterwards, it'd be quite a feat of strength, given how zealous AIs are towards "suddenly weak" other AIs (and if you didn't notice - they are _very_ zealous late-game vs "weakened" ones).

    That's the plan for this war, and i think it should work.

    So far, the failfest of my spies continued in terms of high-level operations. They managed to steal me few more technologies, but third attempt at doing level 4 operation was again a fail. All three tries were about hacking sats, and last 3rd try, i even had 6 spies at the headquarters with +success_chance project active - nope, it failed. Bad luck! And of course after it, surveilance webs are everywhere, so no chance to even try level 4 operation. But this war with Kozlov will allow me to keep trying as long as i will want, with surveilance webs gone - hopefully. It is of course possible other AIs would DoW him and try to take him out while my spies would be working. If so, i'll try to screen him with my units, protect him - if AI(s?) attacking him won't DoW me in the same time, that is. If they would, then it would of course be much easier. %)

    Back near all other cities of mine, on top of making magrails, workers also prepare the land for Orbital Fabricating. This includes removing forests from all non-resource tiles (since forests only spawn Firaxite, and i want all possible sorts of strategic resources), removing marshes (same reason), and lastly, removing Miasma (don't want no more alien nests, especially not in workable-by-cities areas). Once my deep space telescopes will be gone, or perhaps even sooner, i'll spawn 1st small wave of orbital fabricators - all over water, to generate more oil. That would make me able to have 2nd wave of fabricators much bigger, of course, and mostly over land (to spawn titanium as well, which is also needed to have 3rd and following waves of fabricators even bigger). This all means i still have well over 60 turns to clear marshes and forests, but there are lots of those, so i am doing it already. Worker force was increased to 24 units, and i think that's as large as it would ever be.

    Selling resources for energy was not any much needed since turn 203 update, and i didn't do it at all last 40+ turns. Two or three deals with AIs getting few favors for few resources are kept instead, the rest of my resources i either use myself or have available, at the time.

    With that war-plus-espionage campaign against Kozlov, next update will probably take quite a while - i like to take my time when i make wars. :)

    Turn 258.

    Small update. The war with Kozlov goes on well in terms of my well-being - as expected, i didn't lose the West city (the best he could do is to drop its hit points to yellow during two turns, mainly by air strikes from nearby cities of his). He captured that lone worker of mine, but other than that, my units are also fine and getting nice experience nuking Kozlov's forces. I advanced into his territory, captured his original capital and two more cities.

    But unfortunately, Hutama was quick to DoW Kozlov and take two eastern Kozlov's cities; i couldn't capture them before Hutama did. This forces me to reconsider which Kozlov's city i'll allow Kozlov to have as his last-at-the-time city during phaze 1 of my operation - Konechno can't be it anymore, at least for now.

    One small coastal city of his is already "encircled" by now-captured-by-me territory, but other AIs could get to it from the ocean. Another option is to stick with the initial plan, and buy out one of cities captured by Hutama to encircle Konechno with my territory. Can't do it now - not enough energy/resources, it's population 14 city, so quite expensive, and Hutama's "Hostile" to me at the time, so the price would be even higher. So it'd take several dozens turns at least piling up energy to buy out that city, but may be i could use the time to keep doing little target practice against few remaining under Kozlov's command cities. Another possibility, though very low chance, is that Hutama would DoW me, - then i'd take Kozlov's cities captured by Hutama by force, of course. But i don't count on such a luck, and i don't want to DoW Hutama myself, as explained above (that "benefit of non-agression" which i decided to give to AIs who do not DoW me 1st). Last option is Kozlov's outpost far from the Kozlov's mainland, which he found right next to my South-east city, on the tip of the peninsula there - but once again, it's open from the ocean to other AIs possible assault, but perhaps at such a location no other AI would bother sending an army there for such a small patch of land that new city of his would be sitting on.

    I checked, of course, whether Hutama could be convinced to make peace with Kozlov, but it keeps saying he's not willing to do so, even in "demand" screen. Just now, i realized i never tried to see if having favors could change this, in the past; i'll try to make some favors with Hutama and see if that could allow me to convince Hutama to make peace with Kozlov.

    Oh, and by now, i calculated precisely all affinity levels. By turn 258, i have once again switched primary affinity to Supremacy, it's level 17, and one more Supremacy tech will boost it to 18. Harmony is at 15, and there are enough technologies to bring it to 18 in the "secondary affinity" mode, with some 20+ affinity points to spare. Most of the game, i had those two affinites alternated as my primary, getting quests for them both, and it's nice to see them ending 18 both without any free affinity level help from virtues. Purity, which i bumped almost to level 5 at the start from expeditions and quests, also has enough technologies remaining to end up 18! This means, if it could be possible, with 3 extra free affinity levels from virtues, i could end up 19/19/19 (or, say, 21/18/18) in this game. Cool, huh? %) I'll sure provide a screenshot about it later, once i'm 18/18/18, with some free affinity level popping up on top of that.
  3. Fins

    Fins Chieftain

    Jun 25, 2014
    Post #3 - to be edited in the future. Reserved for longer story (because there is 30000 chars per post limit).
  4. Fins

    Fins Chieftain

    Jun 25, 2014
    Post #4 - to be edited in the future. Reserved for longer story (because there is 30000 chars per post limit).
  5. Fins

    Fins Chieftain

    Jun 25, 2014
    Post #5 - to be edited in the future. Reserved for longer story (because there is 30000 chars per post limit).
  6. CaptMikeP

    CaptMikeP Purity's Finest Warrior

    Mar 17, 2015
    Ayyeee, goin purity! Purity master race
  7. Fins

    Fins Chieftain

    Jun 25, 2014
    Not anymore, see turn 150 update and screenshots there - now i'm "officially" Supremacy, but this will change to Harmony hopefully even before turn 200. See, 'dis is a crazey game i do! %)

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