Galactic Civilizations II: Altarian Struggle

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Today I shall install Alex (my son's name) as leader of the Terran Alliance. I will be playing on a large galaxy.  I also decided to customize the look of my ships and colors a bit more.

So I'm using the Drengin style ships but with human colors (white with blue trim). 

My goal here would be to see how the various computer AIs function against each other in a large setting and of course to see if I could win.  I would be playing no hold's barred this time to make sure I was victorious.  The Terran Alliance would bring basic human rights to these aliens.

I set the galaxy up so that it was big but did not have very many good planets. I wanted to see how well my artificial opponents would be able to do with very little without getting bonuses.

As 2225 came to a close, the galaxy was pretty well claimed.  With very few habitable planets, it was a matter of focusing on developing nearby galactic resources.

I also focused on trading a great deal with other civilizations.  As the humans, I have a naturally higher diplomatic ability. I also used some of my points to enhance that diplomacy so I start out with the ability to get some good trade deals.

My strategy in this game is to build up alliances and take out those who won't follow the path.  So not a military conquest this time but a political victory.  The Altarians would be key to this.

So how do I go about doing this:

1) Build up my diplomatic ability.

2) Build a network of trade between my potential friends that is strong enough to create a lobbying group internally to ensure good relations.

3) Have a reasonably good military force that they would want to have the support from.

4) Pursue a generally neutral to good ethical alignment

Item #4 would be tough.

With so few planets, each world really matters. How can I give up a 6% bonus to my research?  I ultimately choose the middle route.

Though I am concerned about Earth's place in the galaxy. It is my best world and yet..it's an also ran in many ways.


The other issue is what to do about the minor races? These are civilizations that don't have any ambitions beyond their home world (generally).  They also occupy some of the best planets in the galaxy. They are militarily insignificant.  Right now, I am aggressively trading with them.

But the Torians have already wiped out one of them. That upsets the galactic balance. The Torians now have a major base world that the rest of us don't.

In the summer of 2227, my economy was looking like this:

88 from trade.  To build things up, I would construct a network of Economic starbases that would magnify this income.  I also had two colony ships sitting around that I never used. It was time to upgrade them.

My strategy with the Torians thus far had been to try to win them over.  But the Torians started to change.  Eventually, a whole new ethical philosophy took over and now! 

How this would affect things would remain to be seen. With Torian students burning the Terran Alliance flag and shouting various Torian phrases they loosely translate to "Jihad!" people are nervous. Combined with their change was a significant military build up.

It was decided that we would still go through the formalities of choosing an official ethical position:

We would take the path of neutrality.  This was motivated by several things including these bonuses:

  • Higher approval ratings from having a balanced point of view (Which means I can tax higher).
  • Contractors would give me a better price when I quick buy ships.
  • No need to pay to upgrade tiles on my planets.
  • When I invade a non-neutral civilization, I get a bonus.
  • Additional trade routes

The Torian movement had startled others.  Even the Arcean Empire was getting nervous.

The Torians aggressively eliminate another minor race.

Amazingly, there are no wars between the major powers.  The Torians are just gobbling up minors.  They have their eye on another minor race: The human race!

To the Torian threat the best and brightest of humanity have come together and put together the ship to defend Earth and put force behind our strategy of peace through strength and trade.

Length: 205 meters.
375 meters
Crew: 25
Mass: 1.52 million metric tons.

The Challenger class was our best hope. Armed with 4 Mark IV laser cannons from Stellar Dynamics Corp and protected by twin Westinghouse advanced deflector grids, it was a formidable piece of weaponry.

Challenger Class

Attack: 4 (beam) Defense: 2 (shields) Hull: 16hp.

While I prepare for war, the Arceans build ties with everyone.

I begin moving my first Challengers to the border.

So what do we really know about the Torian Confederation? It was time to do some intelligence work. One wrong move and Earth could be in ashes.

The Torians look like a pretty big monster. But their military forces are scattered. A couple of key strikes and perhaps they'd turn out to be a paper tiger.  The Torians mostly focus on light fighters. The Challenger was a Frigate sized ship. Quite large.

It would be a battle of few, large, quality ships against lots of cheap ships.  With one key shortcoming on my part, the Torian ships were fast.  They use their speed to destroy my military starbase which was protecting earth.

Even without the starbase, my ships outclass theirs in size, quality. And these are the Torian's latest design, not some obsolete design. Mark II Torian Fighter pods lead by a flag fighter (heavy fighter). The one gotcha is that the Torians use missiles and I am using shield defense.  But they are no match.  All 6 of their ships are destroyed with only slight damage to one of my ships.

But the Torians keep coming on me.  They bypass my fleets and take out my starbases which are the center of my economy. I thought I'd protected them but admittedly, against a half dozen ships I really hadn't put considered that. Now I'm pretty ticked off. And all my starbases are gone.

But in the war of attrition, I was coming out slightly ahead but it would not last forever. It was time to strike and I used my cash reserves to buy up some ships for an offensive.

The strategy would be straight forward. I had mortaged Earth to do it.

The Quarterly Report Magazine made note of this:

Realizing that my main fleet was too strong, the Torians took the strategy to adapt to it and nibble away at my economy by going after my merchantmen.

While the Torians nip away at my trade income, I take the former minor race home world.

Now is the time to ask for peace. Now that I've given them a bloody nose.

It costs a bit but I get peace in our time.  Now to prepare for the next step.  The Torians clearly can't be trusted under their Jihadist leadership.  I also need to improve my military standing. 

My first goal now is to rebuild. I need to get my starbase network back up and running. This time I will fortify it more.

I also get some amazing luck!

Mars has become a decent planet.  Not a great planet still but a decent one.  The Arnor had a device locked away that when activated, terraformed Mars.

The Torians start to go on a rampage again, another Jihad and they want our money.

I don't think so.

The Jihad has not settled well with all Torians though.  A group of them flee Torian space and start up a new minor civilization right off my border.

Having learned the hard way about dealing with minor races, I take the world for myself.  And it's a real jewel, the best planet in the galaxy. Class 21 (after I finish terraforming it). Incredible.

Things were going well and now it was time to deal with the Torians.

For that was going to be a new ship for a new war.

Length: 192 meters.
420 meters
Crew: 30
Mass: 1.82 million metric tons.

The Intrepid would replace the legendary Challenger class starship.  It was not as well protected as the Challenger but had nearly twice the punch.

Intrepid Class

Attack: 10 (beam) Defense: 1 (shields) Hull: 16hp.

As the Fall of 2230 came around, the Terran Alliance had largely rebuilt its economy from the previous war.  It now had the largest population in the galaxy thanks to the acquisition of two new colonies (both from conquest).

Our trade income was now at 227 billion credits per week which allowed us to spend at our maximum industrial capacity.  The Arceans come to me for help. They are losing to the Drengin Empire. I do what I can do to help.

I give them 6 of my Challenger class ships.  I also decide to design a heavy fighter using my recently invented shield technology.

Length: 10 meters.
10 meters
Crew: 2
Mass: 40 metric tons.

Armed with dual Westinghouse Arc Plasma cannons and using the new Standard Dynamics P5A Shield generators, the X-15 was designed to take a beating. And it only cost half as much to build.

X-15 Ranger

Attack: 4 (beam) Defense: 6 (shields) Hull: 10hp.


I've renamed the Dark Yor home world to "Paridias".

It has become a true garden spot.


The Jihad is almost over for the Torian Confederation. Their minor wars and spreading of forces has opened them up. Now it is time to taken them out.

It is at this time that the Arceans surrender to me.  I now control a significant chunk of the galaxy.

The key to the Torian economy is Starbase 232 which is positioned to affect both of the Torian main worlds.

I was nearly ready to attack.

The ship of the enemy:

6 attack with second generation plasma weapons (Same as mine) with basic beam defense. Their strategy was to go with a cheaper ship. Their ships were incredibly cheap, only 170 billion credits apiece.


It was going to prove tougher than I first anticipated.  The Torians weren't quite as weak as I thought. And they had placed orbital fleet managers in orbit.

In fact, my attack is a spectacular failure.  Their ships are too adapted against my current generation weapons.  But I do enough damage that they simply don't want to deal with me right now.

So naturally I build up and prepare for attack.

Well yea, actually I was hoping you wouldn't notice..

And so started the third Terran/Torian war as it came to be known.

Length: 650 meters.
350 meters
Crew: 95
Mass: 4.2 million metric tons.

Arguably a "cheap" battle cruiser at only 282 billion credits (barely more than the Intrepid), the Avenger is designed to outlast the enemy. It's mostly defensive in nature.

Avenger Class Battle Cruiser

Attack: 8 (beam) Defense: 8 (shields) Hull: 28hp.

By this point, we had a new type of ship called the Avenger class Battle cruiser. 

And the Avenger sees its first battle in the skies above Toria:

It takes 3 waves of ships, this is definitely the toughest battle for a planet I've ever had in all the time I've been playing. Eventually Toria is mine. But it's a bloody affair.

Other battles are easier..

The Torians lose their core worlds.

As I am about to launch my final attack the 3@$@# Torians screw me one last time..

They surrender their worlds to the Yor!

No matter.  I will now pursue my original strategy, to build a large interstellar alliance.

Using my diplomatic clout that I've built up throughout the years, I bribe, cajole, and generally befriend everyone I can.  This brings me to the point of building a pretty solid network of alliances.

But such a tangled web is not without its problems. The Korx and Drengin won't play ball and keep attacking the Altarians who are "good" (the Korx and Drengin are vile). 

The Drengin are a problem.  They have a pretty good piece of military hardware in the Mark VII Kil'Thir Battleship

Designed as the answer to the Avenger. It has 3 missile and 4 rail guns (mass drivers). NO beam weapons.  It has 6 defense against beam weapons and 1 defense against missiles just to be safe. The Avenger has been the galaxy's top of the line capital ship for going on 3 years.  But the Kil Thir will kill it nearly every time.  While it has rating of 8 thanks to its plasma beam weapons, they get knocked down to an average of 1 to 2 when up against the Kil 'Thir.  And its shield defense of 8 seems good but is actually only rated at a 2 against the Kil 'Thir since it doesn't use beam weapons.


As the custodian of the Arcean home     worlds, I am feeling pretty low as the Drengin military secures the sector for invasion.

3 Drengin task forces and  a fighter squadron secure sector 4,4 for the Drengin. Invasion is inevitable.

I assign two of my task forces to defend the sector. Alpha and Beta.  My ships have more punch in theory but the Drengin are so well defended that my weapons largely bounce off.

It is a very..very long battle.

But in the end, Task Force Beta wins.

The difference being that I had 3 Avengers and they only had 2 Kil 'Thirs. Their fighters were pretty useless. And I had the initiative since I attacked them.

The firefight in sector 4,4 last weeks but in the end the Drengin are cleared out.  Task force beta is lost and task force alpha limps to defend the two planets.

Fighting a two front war is quite a challenge, especially in a large galaxy.  So I set up two rally points, one to for the Korx theatre and the other for the Drengin theatre.   The Korx are more of an annoyance, and I wipe their forces away with my Avengers.

 It's over for the Korx and they know it.

That's right, all for us.  Only the Drengin resist now.

Meanwhile, someone (i.e. the Drengin no doubt) are whining that we're exploiting the native population. The United Planets Security Council hear's the matter to see if I should be responsible for this or not.

My friends vote it down, the Drengin, needless to say, voted yes.

The war continues.

A Drengin Kil 'Thir and its fighter escort comes across an Avenger and its X-15 fighter escort. A good test of designs. The Drengin are heavily defended against my plasma beams but I have a lot of them and my shields, while not terribly useful against their rail guns, still do help some (44 shields = 6 against rail guns still not too bad).   In the end, I prevail though I lose 2 of my X-15s. Still great ships after all these years.

The Drengin home world is next.

My spies tell me the Drengin are working on expert logistics. If they succeed in this, they will pose a serious problem for my ships. It's a race for Drengi.

The Drengin definitely aren't finished yet though.

Those Mark VII battleships (Kil 'Thir) are so perfectly designed against Avengers that you'd almost think...a computer did it..  The Drengin wipe out the Avengers, taking no losses.

There they are. The Drengin home world. Drengi will be mine soon. I have used my own expert logistics, plus I built the Logistics Manager Galactic Achievement to have a logistics ability of 35. That means SEVEN capital ships in a single fleet. Nothing can stand against it.

Length: 1,865 meters.
750 meters
Crew: 550
Mass: 34.2 million metric tons.

This is the most powerful warship mankind has ever created and probably ever will create.  Armed with 6 Quad-Xinti Disurptor Canons from the Joint North American/European technology Consortium and defended by Strategic Electric's Barrier shields.  It is simply put, a killing machine. Basically invulnerable. One ship can likely take out any number of Drengin ships. I

It's size is massive beyond what a picture can show.  Much larger than an Avenger. Much MUCH larger.

It is also fast. A base speed of Warp 5 plus massive sensors. It has everything.

Dominator class Battleship

Attack: 42 (beam) Defense: 15 (shields) 1 (armor) Hull: 48hp.

The Dominator ship would get its first test. All alone against a fleet of Drengin ships including the new Mark VIII Drengin Battle ship, the Xin 'Vala.  The Xin 'Vala is a definite match for an Avenger but the Dominator has arrived. I couldn't wait to see what would happen.

The first battle was a 2 on 1 affair.  A Xin 'Vala (Mark 8) and a Kil 'Thir (Mark 7). 

Look how much bigger the Dominator is. Imagine what fighters would look like. Those other two ships are Drengin battleships.  Fighters would be like dots. The disruptors are lethal 23 damage in a single hit even though the Drengin shields are dedicated to thwarting our beam weapons.  Our attack bonuses give the Dominator a real world attack of 58 and 18 defense.

The battle is swift, the Dominator loses 4 hit points while doing 74 damage to the Drengin.

The second battle would be against THREE Mark VIII Battleships...

BAM!  It might be just me but there is something satisfying seeing the weapon shot coming out of the weapon module that I placed when I designed the ship.  The screenshots don't do it justice.

All 3 die.  Only 6 hit points of damage done. Then it's 4 Drengin ships. Then 5.  They send everything they have at the Dominator.  One ship vs. the entire Drengin fleet.

The Drengin fleet is destroyed. Though there are several planets still left, they are finished. It's just a matter of mopping up.

I've seen this before. But I will have the last laugh, the Yor are my ally.

And the Dominator is level 4. It has 97 hitpoints now when at full. Of course, it comes with a price. It costs nearly around 3bc each week to maintain it. But it's worth it.

The galaxy is now united under my lead.

Dignitaries come to Earth to celebrate.

And so like every time I play the game, I make notes on how it can be improved. An ongoing process as it will never be "perfect". 

I got a couple of lucky breaks too.  Two incredible planets, better than any in the galaxy, happened to pop up near my starting location with minor races that once dispatched (one by me and one by the Torians which I later captured) put me in the driver's seat. Paradias, for instance, was doing 84 research per turn when research spending was at 33% and full spending.  That's incredible. One planet.  And when I do full research, Paridias would do 254 research PER TURN. 136 research from the buildings and the rest from bonuses (high research ability, 25% starbase bonus, Technology capital).

Lessons I learned:

  • Those resources make a huge difference. If you can mine them up, you're in great shape.

  • Starbases really matter a lot in all sorts of useful ways.

AI Lessons to implement:

  • Bug found: AI will sometimes build economic starbases around other people's planets which is useless. Caused by GetRankedPlanet() failing and returning the last planet it looked at which may not necessarily belong to the civ.

  • AI is not picking its initial abilities as well. It spreads them out. A human tends to focus. Will have to think about this.  I picked heavy duty research bonuses.

  • AI did not go after terraforming improvements strongly enough.

  • Bug found: AI not upgrading its tiles even when it does have soil enhancement (players tiles will upgrade automatically by default, AI getting the short end of the stick here).

  • The military handling was actually pretty good.

  • AI needs to build more farms. My economy just dwarfed everyone else's. And without farms, not as many people to pay taxes.

  • Ship design was really good. Very pleased with that. Just lacked the tech because they didn't have the money.

  • Don't worry, as we improve the AI's intelligence we increase the economic penalties at lower levels to ensure it doesn't get too hard.  For the top strategy gamers, it is necessary that we keep updating the AI to ensure that they are challenged by intelligent computer opponents.


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