This diary was originally published back in 2007, when this site was just a cosy corner of CVG. We're republishing it here a few entries at a time, every Saturday. You can find the other entries here.
Tom has since switched careers to game development, and is now making a space game of his own, Heat Signature.
Day 8: A fall from space
Some of my craft fought The Blob bravely—I was right about a large, powerful, tough ship being able to take on many lesser ones in succession. But the Drengin had learned Logistics since we last met, and their ships attacked in squadrons of six or seven at a time. The You Are All So Boneds, themselves in smaller but stronger formations, were still able to dispatch them, but took irreparable damage in each clash. Soon one of their number was lost, and the reduced firepower meant the Drengin's largely unscathed armada shredded the rest without breaking a sweat.
The Blob lurched on.
Who would have thought repeatedly angering and insulting the most powerful race in the galaxy while completely defenceless could have consequences? Who could have known that refusing to end a war with a military over a hundred times the size of your own might lead to tactically tricky situations? Did any among us guess that attacking the heart of their empire with my only craft while the most populous planets in the galaxy lay undefended might ultimately lead to my downfall?
I paced the war room in my underpants, puzzled.
Day 9: War Bastards unite
I'm on War Bastards now, the next generation on from You Are All So Boned, with comparable firepower but super-thick armour designed specifically to take spadefuls of punishment from mass-driver class weapons, the type the Drengin invariably use. They look like enormous chrome space-scorpions, and two of them can take on a 10-strong fleet of Drengin Heavy Fighters without losing a craft.
Which is just as well, because the galaxy is now swarming with 10-strong fleets of Drengin Heavy Fighters. I swoop in and intercept them whenever I can, but I have to exercise caution when a cluster of other fleets are nearby—successive attacks can easily polish off the most damaged War Bastard, even in a fleet of three or four.
But I've noticed two surprising things: for one, without really realising it, I've got my Logistics skill up to the point at which I can have five War Bastards in a fleet. It might not sound like much, but the increased firepower per turn should boost the number of Drengin they can smash through almost exponentially.
The other thing is that according to the figures in the Civilization Manager screen, two of my Research-focused planets would actually make phenomenally good war factories—in fact, they're already among my most productive worlds, even though I've set them to focus exclusively on books-an'-learnin'.
Since I wasn't close to getting anything researched anyway, I set them both to Military mode and found that I would now have five shiny new War Bastards in less than two months—seven turns. Combined as a fleet, and deployed as a one-two punch with my current five, I allowed myself to think this might actually be enough to slay the Blob.
Day 10: Outside Context Problem
I'd been holding desperately on to that beautiful class-21 world, Petroni I, smack bang in the heart of Drengin territory, and prowling grounds of the Blob. The Blob itself had already smashed the heavy forces I'd posted to defend the planet, but they didn't have any troop transports in the area, so the planet had remained mine.
I couldn't really do much with it; any ships I built there would be smashed by The Blob before I could build up their numbers, and any planetary improvements I built would only strengthen the enemy when they inevitably conquered it. But I liked having it.
So I did what I always do when I can't do anything good: I did something stupid. I built a single War Bastard there and launched it immediately at the nearest Drengin colony—a fairly fertile world with just a few ships in orbit. After smashing its defenders, I would quickly build a troop transport and invade it, achieving no lasting advantage but irritating the Drengin enormously.
I attacked. The planet turned into a ship. The ship destroyed my ship. The ship turned back into a planet. I gaped.
I was not, it turns out, the first race in the galaxy to build a Large craft. And I had been pipped to the post at pioneering the Massive hull type too. The type you use to build battleships. I gaped.
I checked its stats—it had no armour, but a lot of hitpoints and- wait a minute... TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-THREE GUNS? I gaped.
My star player, the War Bastard—previously thought to be the most powerful craft in the galaxy—has eight. A five War Bastard fleet, my secret super-weapon to slay the Blob, makes forty. This has TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-THREE. I gaped.
The Blob, I was starting to realise, wasn't really the issue. I stopped gaping and cancelled the troop transport.
Day 11: Three years later...
Guurk. Where to begin? Okay, everything that's happened up until now has probably taken place in the space of about eight years. It's now three years later, and things are a little different.
First, the reason so much time has passed: I was screwed. It turned out my five-strong fleets of War Bastards were nothing like a match for The Blob, and one squadron of them was even destroyed by lesser fleets of Drengin and Yor.
There were no sensible moves left, and I didn't have the money to do anything stupid, so I did nothing at all. I curled up into a ball and hoped no-one noticed me.
I kept producing a single tiny, defenceless, one-gun ship on Petroni I so that lone troop transports couldn't invade it, but other than that all military production ceased, and I turned my people's thoughts to academia. I called that little ship The Bongolian Ultra-Prawn, since the single wavy tendril I gave it made it look vaguely crustacean, and it was exploded and rebuilt every two turns.
The Bongolian Ultraprawn bravely kills itself on a Yor fleet.
The Drengin love to destroy a planet's defences, but I've never actually seen them invade with troop transports, despite my taking this huge and juicy world right in the middle of their territory. The Yor, on the other hand, invade me constantly, but they lack the soldiering skill of the Drengin, so I can almost always fight them off. And if I've lost a lot of citizens, I just drop taxes to 30%, my approval hits the roof and my people screw the losses away in a couple of turns.
So for three years, I survive. I even hold Petroni I—the Yor don't dare take it so deep in Drengin territory, and the Drengin just don't seem able or willing to use troops. Instead, they do what they've always done: build up their military.
Now The Blob is the standard Drengin fleet. Dozens of them swarm the galaxy. Battleships like the one I encountered on Petroni II jet around in pairs. The universe is a sea of red.
And that's about when the human race declared war on me.