[ PLAYER TYPES ] [ FAQS ] [ INPUT TURNS ] [ THRESHOLD ARCHIVE ]
By Thom Walla
Each galaxy is made up of stars, solar systems, black holes, supernovas, etc. The galaxy is a three-dimensional cube of space divided into a series of smaller cubes called Sectors. There are twenty-six sectors per side, so the galaxy consists of 17,576 Sectors (26X26X26 Sectors). Each sector is further divided into smaller cubes, called Subsectors. There are 27 subsectors per sector (3X3X3 subsectors). If you do the math, you’ll quickly discover that there are 474,552 subsectors in the galaxy. Each subsector may have up to 5 stars. That means that there are potentially 2,372,760 stars in the galaxy. Each star may have up to 9 planets. The potential number of planets reaches into the tens of millions. Obviously, this place is big. You can never explore it all.
Each planet has a size (Usually 0-10),an atmosphere (0-10), a hydrographic level (0-10), and a mining potential (0-?). Your species (population) can only survive on planets that closely resemble your homeworld atmosphere and hydrographics. However, combat forces that you possess can survive on any planet. Therefore, the empire type you choose influences but is not critical to your ability to use planets.
Interaction between players happens on many levels. Some player types are cooperative and even rely on each other to survive or advance. Others prey on the economic structure created by these races, while one race just tries to destroy all in its path. The one thing all empires have in common is the ability to build and use armed force to both defend themselves and attack other players.
The galaxy is also sewn with NPC’s or non-player-characters. Some are empires in their own right. Others are simply planets that have not reached space faring technology yet. All can be used, conquered, or interacted with in many ways. There are even a few Ancient Civilizations. These races usually occupy extremely high tech level planets tucked away in obscure corners of the galaxy and are best left alone unless you are very strong. They do, however, offer players immense power if conquered or even scanned successfully . . . sometimes! At other times you’ll discover ancient worlds that are just deteriorating habitat and useful to no one.
Each player chooses a player type. There are eight.
Independent Civilization Builder
Colonizes, terraforms, and installs industry on planets. Also builds population throughout his empire. The population is the basis for recruiting marines and provides technological advancement for your race. The main form of revenue for this race is a large expanding empire of technologically advanced terraformed worlds protected by a vast navy.
An empire whose machines control it. Their function is to destroy all life forms. That makes Independent Civilization Builders their arch-enemies. Their main form of revenue is capturing planets, looting them and executing the population. They can even go so far as to completely destroy the world creating an asteroid field where once existed a planet. Their main advantage is that they start at a higher technology level and have a 100% aggression level, meaning they will always fight to the last man . . . uh, Cyber. Their main disadvantage is that they cannot form alliances, nor receive or give foreign aid, and they always fight to the last Cyber.
Oh, I said that.
A race that has learned how to control gravitational fields. They can move planets from one solar system to another. Their main form of revenue comes from finding planets, ‘platforming’ them (building REALLY big engines), and installing industry, population, and advanced technology on them. Their main advantage comes from the fact that they can move worlds to mutually defensible solar systems, and that you never know where they are going to be from one turn to another. This makes them formidable adversaries. Their main weakness lies in the fact that, although they operate in ways that are similar to an Independent, it is harder for them to find planets suitable for platforming. Nomads must also struggle to avoid the dreaded lancer ships that alien races use to seek out and destroy nomad platforms; planet-targeting seeker torpedoes, if you will.
All worlds have a mining potential between 0 and 19. (There may be some planets with higher mining potential – the game designers are not telling.) Miners install mining equipment on terraformed planets and can also mine unterraformed worlds. This means that any planet with a mining potential is a source of revenue. Miners can also build more mining centers per planet than other player types, which makes them very popular. Their main advantages rest in the increased number of mining centers that they can install on a world and in their ability to strip mine a planet, reducing the mining potential, and reaping huge revenue rewards. The Mining Corporation’s main disadvantage is that developing a steady income is harder for a miner than for Independent Civilization Builders because Independent Civilization Builders can build mining centers too; the miner must convince potential clients of the benefits of using corporate mining centers.
Do not be deceived by the name. These are not passive farmers. An Ag Corp is a very powerful entity in the galaxy. The driving force behind expansion amongst the stars is population growth. Planetary populations grow much more slowly if an Ag Center is not present on the world. If the population is small, the military recruitment base is small, and the tax base is small, and the planet grows slowly. Ag centers are vital to a world’s development.
An Ag Corp is the only player type that can install Ag Centers on terraformed worlds. While a miner cannot build mining centers on a planet that he does not have the mining rights to, an Ag Corp can only be denied an Ag Center if one has already been installed by another Ag Corp or diplomatic relations between the ag corporation and the client planet are very bad. While the income received from an Ag Center is many times the value of a mining center, only one can be installed per planet. This is the main disadvantage of an Ag Corp. The Ag Corp must find terraformed worlds to install Ag Centers on and, therefore, must search the galaxy to find non-player worlds or other player empires to do business with.
The economics of the game are very elegant and the Trade Corporation fits in nicely. Every player must earn income in the form of RUs (Resource Units) to buy and build things. Mining centers, production centers, shipyards, naval ships, marines, forts, even population must be built with RUs. Traders earn revenue by installing trade centers on advanced and developed planets, earning income from the total number of production centers on the planet. They also earn revenue by hauling cargo from one terraformed world to another. For trade route purposes, the larger the population, the better. The main incentive for the trade corporation is the huge amount of revenue to be gained by establishing trade routes between populated planets. The major incentive for other empires to allow trade is the increase in population trade brings as planets prosper. The main disadvantage for a Trade Corp is the same as the Ag Corp. Only one trade center may be installed per planet. Thus, the corporation must expend precious resources exploring the galaxy to find terraformed worlds to do business with.
Just what you’d expect. He steals everything from everybody and sells it to Pirate Havens. These Pirate Havens are NPC planets that have a low technological level (we call it TEC LEVEL) and will pay huge amounts for advanced technological stuff. The advantage of the pirate is that he can remain undetected, even in space, making his ships hard to track down. This leaves many worlds, no matter how well defended, open to the lightning raids of pirate corsairs and slavers. Another big advantage pirates have is the information that can be gained about other worlds by the use of pirate probes.
Pirates sneak in and steal everything that isn’t nailed down, enslave whole populations, and generally make life difficult for everyone. The major disadvantage for pirates is that they must find pirate havens to sell to. They too rely on terraformed worlds to do ‘business’ with and must spend considerable resources searching the stars.
They do exactly what their name suggests. They smuggle, but on an unimaginable scale. These guys are like the mafia of space. They have their hands in everything, they know more than you think they do and they can really ruin your day if you cross them. The main source of their income comes from installing smuggling centers on terraformed worlds. However not much income is generated from smuggling centers themselves. Rather, black market goods are smuggled through these smuggling centers onto the world and sold to the population or smuggled out and sold to pirate havens. This generates large amounts of revenue while at the same time depriving the planetary owner of his income. The smugglers’ chief advantages are the ability to receive incredibly accurate information about a world from the smuggling center on the planet, the ability to smuggle guerillas onto the planet and conquer the world by subversive methods rather than outright attack, and all those resource units they can make by smuggling. The smugglers’ key disadvantage lies in the fact that they do not terraform and, if a planet owner figure’s out that there is an uninvited smuggling center on his world, he’s going to send in the marines and things may get nasty very quickly.
In addition to these player types every player picks his Empire Name. The only real difference this makes is for role playing and communication purposes. You need to make sure that your empire name is not so complicated that players can’t spell it correctly. Otherwise, they’ll never be able to send you a message through diplomacy.
An important, and randomly determined, game function is your species’ aggression level, which is expressed in a percentage number. The one exception to the random generation of aggression level is the Cyber species, which is always 100%. Aggression level determines two key features of your species. First, whenever two alien races meet, whether player or non-player, and the combined aggression level is 100% or above, they automatically attack each other. This means that if you are going to be a Trade Corp, or Ag Corp, or Miner, you’d probably want a fairly low aggression level so that you don’t get blown away every time you try to initiate diplomatic relations or install a center on a planet. However, there is the inevitable snag (and second key feature); Your forces retreat from combat when the percentage of total combat losses are equal to or greater than your aggression level. Thus, Independents tend (in my opinion) to want the highest aggression level that they can achieve because they want to defend for as long as possible, giving fleets from other parts of their empire time to arrive with reinforcements. High aggression levels also make it expensive for other players to conquer your worlds or chase away your navy. The Nomad probably wants an average aggression level. This insures that the Nomad can conquer other races if necessary. Since he can move his platformed worlds away from trouble, there is no use defending a non-platformed conquered world to the last ship. Better to save the fleet and have the surviving defeated marines as guerilas for the inevitable counterattack. When a Nomad brings an attack platform back into the solar system, well, things get ugly real quick. The Pirate and Smuggler could probably go either way. I’ve seen high aggression levels work as well as low. Low insures that you can do damage to others without them being able to annihilate your forces, while a high aggression level works much the same as for the Cyber.
So there you have it. Some insights. Like I said, it’s a fun game and everyone tends to gravitate towards a certain player type. Me, I like to play the Independent. Something about that lonely planet on the fringe of your empire holding off the dreaded Cyborgs while waiting for the cavalry to show up kind of appeals to me. I always admired the story of the Alamo even though most of the people there never had the intention of staying in Texas anyway, win or lose. Plus I like to explore and build and play one player off against another. Very Byzantine. Everyone fits into a certain type by their very nature.
Oh, by the way, the first ten combat maneuvers that you can pick were named after 10 of the original playtesters from way back in 1982. Not for any other reason than, at one time or another during the original playtest, there was a happenstance through quirk of fate, or just plain blind luck, that occurred exactly as the maneuver suggests. Up until that time they were just maneuvers 1 through 10. Most of us have kept our original name.
Which one is mine?
Hope you find it interesting enough to play.