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. Here's part one.
Tom has since switched careers to game development, and is now making a space game of his own, Heat Signature.
Day 4: The Long Arm of the Flaw
I don't—and I say this now because it's bound to become portentous—defend my planets. At all. I rarely give more than two or three them Starports to build ships, and even those don't have a standing guard to shoot down invaders. You could take down my whole civ with a Blitzkrieg of weaponless troop transports.
I feel comfortable saying this here because GalCiv has no multiplayer mode, and while the AI is extremely good, I don't credit it with the gumption to track down and read this blog mid-game.
This is a terrible, crippling flaw in my strategy, but over my years of RTS, TBS and even FPS playing, I've discovered it usually pays to have a terrible, crippling flaw in your strategy. It lets you focus your resources on other areas to a degree that AI doesn't seem to anticipate. It assumes some portion of your funds will be reserved for such sanities as defending yourself in any way at all.
Now I was channeling the money saved by my terrible, crippling flaw into cultivating a huge and ecstatically happy populace. By rush-researching Extreme Entertainment, I was able to keep everyone at their euphorically randy 100% approval rating by building Zero-G Stadiums on any colonies that showed even a modicum of dissatisfaction.
That glut of manpower allowed me to quickly research Aquatic and Radioactive World colonisation, which gave me three ripe new worlds to screw on—one of them on the outskirts of that enormous main cluster of stars at the centre of this galaxy. I had joined the big boys.
Before long, my farm-burning genocide on day 3 had led to the second-largest and by far the happiest population. And I found myself struck by the same thought every great leader must have had when faced with the peace, prosperity and adoration of his people:
I bet I could tax the cocks off these chumps.
Day 5: WAR
The Drengin Empire declared war on me. The Yor Collective—who have also inexplicably overtaken me in the population stakes—declared war on me. The Drengin declared war on the Yor. The Terrans declared war on the Drengin. The Yor declared war on the Torians. The Drengin declared war on the Korx. The Altarians declared war on the Drengin. The Altarians declared war on the Yor. The Altarians—in an extraordinarily audacious and unwarranted move for which I will crush their bones to dust and mix it with the vitreous humor from their freshly squeezed eyes to make a sort of sandwich spread—declared war on me.
The galaxy is in chaos.
It's possible, I grant, that this cascading diplomatic catastrophe of conflicting alliances, pre-emptive strikes and outright treachery may have been triggered by my slightly glib behaviour in first contact with the most powerful race in the universe, but I'm not going to dwell on that. Back when I've thought of a way to win a war against over three hundred ships without a military.
Day 6: The USS You Are All So Boned
A few minutes ago, the Drengin offered a peace treaty. Given that they are basically Klingons, this is rather gratifying. You might describe the noise I made as a 'cackle'. I have others at war with me, but they're mostly bandwagon-jumpers or Drengin lackeys—none of them would dare keep the aggression up if the Drengin back off.
I was utterly cornered by these thugs before I even started to design my first ship. My military policy is to skip the first few generations of space combat entirely. Every other race builds up huge numbers of these 'Heavy Fighters', but they don't have the Logistics skill to have them fly together in a large fleet, and a significantly larger and tougher ship can repair and even level up between dispatching small groups of them.
So that's what I built. I was the last race to have a military, but the first to have a Large military craft—bristling with four times the weaponry and twice the horsepower of anything else in space. I named it You Are All So Boned. I wanted to call it something else, but it was one letter too long.
It prowled the galaxy, singular in number and in nature, undefeated. It cleared the way for some audacious invasions of the lushest and best-defended planets of my new enemies, and after a few demonstrations of its power, the Drengin offered a peace treaty. I didn't have to think about it.
Day 7: The Blob
So, there were invasions. I was eventually able to afford a second and third YAASBo, but with only a handful of craft you can't keep a large galaxy defended against even the lightest ship. So the Yor, Drengin and Altarians all had a go. Most of them failed, because my lascivious population growth meant all my planets had a full twelve-billion rabbits living happily on them, making them tough to conquer this early in the game.
But after the fifth successive invasion of the planet Death in a single turn, there simply weren't enough people left alive to defend it. It was lost, and just as my few ships were closing in on the Drengin's most fertile planets for a surgical strike. I was doing that thing you're not supposed to do: fighting a war on two fronts. And that was when I first saw the blob.
It lurched through my ships' sensor ranges, past those fertile planets, and was gone before the turn ended. It was like glimpsing a strange and terrible new kind of sea creature in the murky depths, something whose shape was nebulous but whose sheer size foretold a chilling power.
It was, of course, just a lot of icons stacked on top of one another, such that their shapes merged and the outline dilated. This was no less terrifying. When it finally lingered near my squadron of second-generation Boned-class ships long enough for their sensors to catch it between turns, I saw that it was-
Well, let me say first that I had often wondered exactly where the Drengin military was. Every time they opened trade negotiations to bully me for money, it listed literally hundreds of vessels, but I only ever saw a few at once. Now I had my answer: seventy eight of them occupied a single parsec, and moved together as one epic and unstoppable beast.
It lurched my way.